Antler Oaks Lodge: More than an RV Resort
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
When the Manis family decided to move from Houston to the Texas Hill Country, they created a list of 40 requirements their new home community would have to meet. One of those criteria was that "you had to be able to pick up a container of Blue Bell at the store and get home before it melted." Bandera, in competition with Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Boerne and other Hill Country towns, out-scored all the others, especially on the ice cream standard.
For several years now we old-timers have been driving by the Manis property along the Medina River just this side of Ranger Crossing. We were curious about the construction we could see happening along the top of the hill, and had opinions about the size of the limestone block sign at the gate fronting State Highway 16.
Good news, curiosity seekers! Antler Oaks Lodge and RV Resort is open for business and invites the community to stop by for their Open House set for Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 4 pm. Your curiosity can be satisfied at last!
The welcoming facility offers a family-oriented vacation experience filled with beauty and a sense of deep peace. In addition, it offers something few destination facilities can.
"We're proud to say that the entire facility, the lodge, the cabins, the RV sites, the pool, everything is fully handicapped accessible," said owner and driving force behind the project, Tom Manis.
Manis had a successful business in Houston when "me and the wife (Vicky) woke up one morning and said, 'What are we doing here?'" Fighting all the people and the traffic had lost its appeal. That's when Manis and Vicky drew up their list of requirements.
"We really started all this with what was originally supposed to be a place just for us, something to hunt out of," said Manis, waving a hand at the numerous structures that now dot the property. "We downsized and ended up completely changing our lifestyle."
Manis, Vicky and daughter Madison "Mattie", the resort manager, currently live in that downsized cabin on the property. Son Andy has also been a key component in what has been a seven-year project, so far. As they lived on the property, they began to ask themselves what they could do with it. "Retirement just wasn't for me," said Manis.
Being people of strong faith, the Manises wanted their new venture to "make a difference." They were led to consider the handicapped, especially children and our wounded soldiers.
"We asked ourselves, where do families with handicapped members go to vacation? And we decided that, because of the challenges involved, many of them simply never get a chance to vacation," said Manis.
Of course, a visitor to Antler Oaks Lodge does not have to be handicapped to enjoy the facility, but it amazed me to learn that the pool comes equipped with a lift, and bathrooms and showers are specially equipped. There is even a family shower that allows a parent to help their child.
The 12,000 square foot lodge is an architectural wonder, with a high arching ceiling supported by polished tree trunks too big to reach around. With it's gigantic fireplace, comfy sofas, polished concrete floors and views all the way to sunset, it offers a gorgeous setting for a wedding, family reunion or conference.
The facility offers 15 fully equipped cabins, including kitchens; 100 big rig pull through RV sites, play grounds, restrooms with hot showers, and a 7,000 square foot indoor pavilion. Pets are welcome and there is a dog run.
Why seven years? "I have friends who ask if Noah is still working on his ark in Bandera!" laughed Manis. The reason for the long time frame, in part, is because much of the labor has been done by the family.
"I was in marketing and sales. Never built a thing," said Manis. "Andy has never had a course in welding. Mattie was finishing high school when we moved here. We're amazed at what we've done. We're always learning, and we're quick learners." The siblings designed and built a metal and cowhide chandelier in the main room that appears to be bigger than some back-yard pools. Mattie has also hauled 450 loads of caliche they quarried off the property to build the roads.
Manis and Vicky have two other daughters and grandkids. "We hope they will all be involved in this project someday," he said.
When the family came to Bandera just after the 2002 flood, there were no buildings on the property. Now there are 28 structures, and judging by the gleam in Manis' eye, there will be more in the future.
"We've taken our time," he said, "because we want to do things right. Now we're ready to let people know about what we have to offer and host special events."
Antler Oaks Lodge has lots to offer. At the top of the list just may be a seat on the back porch, enjoying the cool breeze, sipping an iced tea and waiting for the sun to go down.
Call them at 830-796-8111, or go to www.AntlerOaksLodge.com for more information.
Pictured: Antler Oaks Lodge on Highway 16 North at Ranger Crossing will have a ribbon cutting and open house Tuesday, Oct. 22.
The main room of the lodge at Antler Oaks serves as the heart of the destination vacation facility. Decorated with antiques, and filled with comfy leather couches, it's the perfect place to unwind.