We were so impressed in Hot Springs, Arkansas and inside
Hot Springs Villages by these ten things:
- The fact that so many residents/members have lived all over the world and chosen Hot Springs Villages as their ultimate home. Take Pietre de Haas for example, from South Africa, a former rugby pro who has started with love, a rugby association through US high schools. We’ve been to South Africa and loved it. The scenery, food, wine and golf there are amazing yet the beauty, safety and people of Hot Springs amaze Pietre more. Ray Metz, Director of Club Services has lived in Los Cabos, Dubai, and other prime spots working for Troon for many years. He settles here with his wife. We met a former air traffic controller, and a retired helicopter pilot with his wife, a former airline attendant. All are experienced travelers who have searched the world over and found true love in the natural beauty, activities, reasonable cost of living and (they all emphasize) safety at Hot Springs Villages. And here they say, they will stay.
It is the largest gated community in the country. The east gate or west gate lead deep into 26k acres of woods and lakes. Past the rice paddies, these are the foothills to the Ouachitas (pronounced wash-a-taw) below the Ozark Mountains where there is no shortage of water. It started in ’72 but Troon entered in ’15, opened it to the public and are making it a golf destination, not just a community. Guests stay in rental villas within Hot Springs Villages or arrangements are made with Embassy Suites downtown. While there are 400 rental homes in the village, Troon hand selected the 50 that guarantee quality for their Troon Golf Vacations packages.
Members and guests have 8 pristine Troon managed courses to play. They park their car in the course lot and grab a golf cart from the barn or trailer their own cart in. Granada is the premier course, designed in ’04. Big Cup Golf is played on the weekends on the Balboa Course. Members like Karol, Alan and Tommy proudly work the shops and marshal the courses. Isabella has 3 nines. Kathy Norris who books and manages tournaments loves Balboa while Ray’s fave is Magellan. Year round golf is played with a dusting of snow in the winter, average temps in the 50s. Every clubhouse has a different grouping of attire and accessories.
Each course has a different restaurant and bar for convenience, plus another Last Chance Café on the Balboa Lake. Restaurants are leased and managed separately for a variety of cuisine, all at affordable prices. A chef formerly from Diamante, the private, expensive, non-Troon course in the Villages, manages Elen’s. The Prime Rib is recommended with a view of Granada. Breakfast at JK’s Grill in the Isabela clubhouse is the spot for a fresh burrito and coffee to go, leased by Judy Klein and managed by her daughter Jo. Johnna is the chef/lessee in the newly renovated clubhouse of the Desoto course where 152 ladies from the EWGA Southern Division gave her a standing ovation after their meals. They competed in a 3-day tournament on the Cortez and DeSoto courses and plan to return next year.
There are 11 lakes on which to recreate with a purported zero, no count, mosquitos, no one knows why. Maybe they are all in the rice paddies miles away. Boats may be docked or trailered in and around all lakes within the Villages and beyond. Arkansas touts some of the best bass fishing in the country. Pontoon rentals are also available through the Property Owners’ Association. All enjoy kayaking, swimming and simple serenity on the spring fed lakes. No drought concerns here!
- Other onsite activities abound including concerts at the Performing Arts Center. There is always something going on in the community between festivals, hiking, biking, pickle ball, clubs, tennis, etc. Tennis players boast about the clay courts. Coming soon are Agrihoods for gardening lovers and fresh food. See listings at www.hsvpoa.org
- Location, location, location. Hot Springs Village is a bit of a secret but very convenient, one hour from Little Rock. Residents love that they are within a five hour drive of many spots, some they used to call home where their kids might still roam – maybe the Gulf Shores, Texas or Chicago. One might think they are in Spain as that is the naming theme for all the streets and spots in Hot Springs Villages. Actually, this is Cooper’s Town – nothing to do with baseball, but the developer. Some say his daughter who loves Spanish selected all the names of streets.
The historic town of Hot Springs is minutes away where Troon established a storefront for exposure to the 3m annual tourists. The number one attraction here is Hot Springs National Park. The natural mineral hot springshas drawn visitors for over a century. People flocked to Bath House Row to “take the waters.” The Row is still a draw. While Quawpaw provides a modernized bath experience, we chose the Buckstaff, the oldest continuing running bathhouse. An elevator assistant cranks up to the second floor for ladies’ locker rooms like those of jr high. Strip and drape in a toga sheet, and be led through a ritual including bathing, hot towel wrap, a shower, all in natural spring water and a steam box where you sit and wonder was Mae West here? It is as rejuvenating as any world-class resort spa. On the street, boutique shops are reasonably priced. Residents bring their water jugs to the circular spring faucets. This is the purest spring water we’ve ever tasted, absent of any sulfur tinge.
The Gangster Museum highlights the New York connection of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and others who chose Hot Springs as an early base of operations. The Oldest continuing bar from 1905 features a bench with Al Capone for photo ops. No password is required for a hidden wall today at the Ohio Club. Belly up to the mirrored and hand carved old oak bar and have a Mae West, Al Capone or any libation your heart desires. Upstairs serves as a small music venue 7 nights a week. The washboard action was amazing.
1905 also marked the first race at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, now one of the premier thoroughbred tracks in America. This is where American Pharaoh won the Rebel Stakes and Derby to launch his Triple Crown win in 2015.
Vibrancy – Hot Springs Villages is not a typical retirement community. The average age is debated but all seemyoung and schools are well attended by youth.
- Economics! Player packages, meals, and merchandise, everything is reasonable here. Home prices range in the $100ks to $1m+ with only $780/year assessment. How about $145/night and up which includes around of golf? Now that could cause a whole lot of fuss. It is a great incentive to check it out. https://www.troongolfvacations.com