Photo courtesy of Foster Farm & Ranch.

Have you ever wanted to buy a retreat? Now’s your chance; A remarkable 12-acre property on the Sabinal River in Utopia, Texas, has hit the market for $2.5 million.

As investors are snatching up properties left and right for the next wedding venue or event space, the Utopia River Retreat is the next hidden gem in a booming wedding industry. The Knot estimated in 2022 that a Texas couple’s average wedding budget is $27,000. The website also estimates that 30 percent of a couple's wedding budget goes toward a perfect venue for their special day.

The next owners of the retreat can continue to provide couples with a naturally beautiful Hill Country experience — one that’s continued for over a century. The property's legacy as a wedding destination began with the first wedding ceremony in 1861. The only structure on the land at the time was a stone fort, which has since been converted into the “Fortress," a lodge that can sleep 12 guests.

Other features of the Fortress include:

  • Two master suites
  • Three semi-private lofts
  • Full kitchen
  • Fireplace
  • Wrap-around porch
  • Original stonework on display

The retreat also boasts nine guest cabins in addition to the Fortress. Each cabin has its own full kitchen, living space, and covered porch. Three cabins have two bedrooms that can host up to six guests, and six cabins are single-bedrooms that can sleep up to four guests.

Another highlighted feature of the property is the renovated hay barn. The previous owners turned it into a bespoke event space with an open floor plan, wood beam ceilings, a stone fireplace, and attached deck. Also around the barn is a large green space and a covered gazebo with a breathtaking view of the Sabinal River.

The Utopia River Retreat sale is facilitated by Chad Foster, the founder and broker of Uvalde-based real estate group Foster Farm and Ranch.

“With its current amenities and space for expansion, Utopia River Retreat provides potential buyers with a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Foster in a press release. “The event space, cabins, and renovated fort make Utopia River Retreat a great addition to any real estate portfolio.”

Even outside of wedding season, the property can host many events such as family vacations, reunions, and corporate retreats. The town of Utopia is located about 140 miles southwest of Austin. Austinites may be familiar with the area thanks to the long-running Utopiafest that used to offer live music and camping.

More information about the property can be found at the utopiariverretreat.com, and more information about the listing can be found at fosterfarmandranch.com.

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Peek inside the $50 million renovation at this popular Hill Country resort

Staycation anyone?

If you've been looking for the perfect excuse to book yourself (or a loved one) a staycation, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort has got you covered.

Located about two hours from Austin, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort announced via an official press release that the extensive $50 million dollar renovations are now complete.

In addition to updated luxury amenities in every guest room at the resort, visitors will find brand new wood floors in guest rooms, updated tech for guests to use during their stay, and a brand new emphasis on Texas artwork, featured inside the hotel lobby and guest rooms.

For the techies out there, guests can expect an LG 65-inch class 4K smart ultra high-definition TV in their room, in addition to marble countertops, tilework, toilets, vanity lighting and more in their bathrooms.

Another neat detail in most (keyword most, not all) of the renovated bathrooms at the Hyatt are walk-in showers. Some of the new Texas artwork featured at the Hyatt will include graphic sketches by a local Hill Country artist, and photos and artwork paying tribute to the Hyatt's historic significance as the location of the Rogers-Wiseman ranch.

Renovations aside, what can first-time guests expect from a visit to the Hyatt Hill Country? For starters, you really don't have to leave the resort to get a nice meal — the Hyatt has five restaurants onsite, including their main dinner spot, the Antler's Lodge, which also pays tribute to the Rogers-Wiseman ranch with its wild-game centric menu.

The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort is also famous for its 5-acre water park, featuring a lazy river (ideal for the upcoming hot Texas summers.) They've also got the Windflower Spa and a 27-hole championship golf course on the premises.

"As we celebrate the 30-year anniversary of our beautiful resort this year, we are thrilled to offer an enhanced product paired with the premier service and experiences our guests have come to know and love over the years," says Steven J. Smith, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, via release. "We look forward to welcoming travelers, groups, and our local community to experience the updated Hyatt Regency Hill Country for an unforgettable getaway they will cherish for years to come."

Here's what the Austin airport's record-breaking summer could mean for ongoing expansions

Summer Travel

As Memorial Day approaches, staff at Austin's airport say they're getting ready to see another record-breaking summer travel season. So what does this mean for projects that are in the works and what's already been done to accommodate growth?

Officials with Austin-Bergstrom International Airport said last summer, around 7.7 million passengers traveled through between May and August. Airport spokesperson Elizabeth Ferrer said that number is expected to increase significantly this year.

"Our biggest crown jewel short-term that we are excited to be starting off is the west side expansion. So on the west side of the terminal, we are going to be adding over 84,000 square feet of space. It's going to be on three levels," Ferrer said.

Other expansions include updates to TSA's machines to allow for an easier check-in as well as updates to baggage processing systems. However, larger projects are in the works.

As far as the West Gate expansion, a groundbreaking will happen this summer, and its completion is expected in about three years' time. It will include three new gates for the airport.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Well-acted The Starling Girl tackles controversial topics in a powerful manner

Movie Review

Religion, as it has been for millennia, can be a tricky topic to address in works of art. Anyone who uses their art to criticize the way things are done in certain groups is liable to be highly criticized themselves, if not worse. Anyone who makes such a film has to have the courage of their convictions to not only make it in the first place, but also put it out for all to see.

The Starling Girlis even more daring, taking on Christian fundamentalists and sexual grooming in one fell swoop. Jem Starling (Eliza Scanlen) is part of a very conservative religious sect in rural Kentucky, one that matches up teenagers for potential marriages and chastises girls for wearing a bra with an outline visible through their shirts.

Jem, like her family, is all-in with her church, but also shows signs of chafing at its restrictions. Her slightly rebellious nature comes to a head when she starts to have an attraction to Owen Taylor (Lewis Pullman), who’s not only the youth pastor but also a 28-year-old married man. Their budding connection slowly gets stronger, leading Jem to question both her faith and her morals.

Written and directed by Laurel Parmet, making her feature debut, the film gains its power through its discomfort. It presents the strictness of Jem’s church in relatively matter-of-fact terms, but it does seem to sit in judgment when it comes to how that harshness pushes Jem and Owen to do things that they might otherwise not ever consider. Only a few scenes don’t directly involve church or talk about religion, making it clear what a massive role it plays in all the characters’ lives.

Parmet seems to want viewers to understand the corrosive effect that a sheltered life like the one Jem leads can have on someone like her. Without any kind of regular contact with secular things (or even slightly secular things like Christian pop music), Jem and a few other characters react in outsized ways when exposed to things outside their world. Owen, who has just returned from Puerto Rico, offers a sophisticated perspective that draws Jem in.

The “relationship” between Jem and Owen echoes the one shown in the recent Palm Trees and Power Lines, although the dynamic is slightly different. While it’s clear from the get-go that the adult male in Palm Trees is a sexual predator, Owen seems to be surprised at the effect Jem is having on him. Not that his hesitancy absolves him of any wrongdoing; the longer he welcomes Jem’s attention, the more of a villain he becomes.

Scanlen plays her part extremely well, showing the naivete and stubbornness of her character while still staying likable. Pullman – looking completely different from his nerdy role in Top Gun: Maverick – walks a fine line set up by his character, and it’s to his credit that the role isn’t completely off-putting.

Eliza Scanlen in The Starling Girl

Photo by Brian Lannin; courtesy of Bleecker Street

Eliza Scanlen in The Starling Girl.

While the story of The Starling Girl is somewhat unique given its cloistered setting, the larger tale it tells is all too familiar and distressing. The well-acted film has a lot of strong points, and heralds Parmet as a filmmaker to watch in the future.


The Starling Girl is now playing in select theaters.