New retreat in Waco already drawing attention of influencers, TV producers

Live Oak Lake nestled around a lake ten minutes from downtown Waco
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - There’s a unique new getaway in Central Texas that’s just opened but is already leaving locals in awe, bringing in travelers from as far away as Scotland, and catching the eye of a national television show.

Live Oak Lake is a retreat nestled around a lake on Spring Lake Road in Waco, a mere ten minutes away from downtown. It includes seven small, but carefully crafted, one-to-two-bedroom cabins, ranging from 450 to 600 square feet.

The cabins are a lifelong dream of Isaac French, 25, who has been using his craftsmanship and entrepreneurship he learned as a member of Homestead Heritage, an agrarian- and craft-based Christian community outside Waco.

“The dream behind it was to create a place in Waco, my hometown,” French said. “I thought being that Texas, you don’t see that often here, and being that Waco is becoming a bit of a mecca for home design and a lot coming here for Magnolia, I wanted to create something unique in these cabins that Waco and, really, the greater Waco area doesn’t have.”

French grew up at Homestead Heritage until the age of eleven when he and his family moved to Idaho to help start a sister community there.

He lived in Idaho for ten years before getting married to his wife, Helen, and moving back to Waco in 2020.

His time in Idaho influenced his design.

“It’s modern Scandinavian architecture for the cabins, specifically,” French said. “In the Pacific Northwest there is a lot more influence there of that.”

Location was huge for the craftsman whose grandfather helped build the Crawford-area home of President George W. Bush.

French wanted to build the cabins close enough to town to make it convenient for locals and visitors to the Magnolia Silos but far enough from the hustle and bustle that it felt secluded and immersed in nature.

When the land on Spring Lake Road became available, French and his wife knew it was perfect.

“I have been collecting these ideas for a couple of years and the property came for sale on Spring Lake Road last year and, I knew the instant I saw it, it was the right place for it.”

WATCH: Julie Hays’ full interview with developer Isaac French

French built the small but luxurious cabins and expanded the lake in just 10 months, but it didn’t come without its challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been more and more difficult to build on a timeline with rising material costs and worker shortages,” he said.

French also had an accident while working on the project.

“I had a little bit of a set back at the end of November when I was just about to wrap up everything and I fell from a ladder and broke my pelvis. I had a couple of different surgeries.”

French said with the help of an amazing support staff - and God - he healed quickly, and the project stayed on time.

“We built the place in 10 months. It was a crazy busy year.”

The cabins opened in January and social media influencers who discovered Live Oak Lake have praised it, helping to attract visitors from near and far.

“We’ve had people from all over the world already,” French said. “Our goal is to help make Waco a destination and we’re already seeing that especially with some of the publicity we’ve gotten. Not just people coming through Waco, but even more, primarily, we want people to come to Waco so they can stay with us.”

Locals who have visited the retreat are also loving the convenient getaway.

“They’re totally in “aw” of it. They say ‘oh my goodness. I had no idea this existed here,” French said.

The cabins will be featured on a national television show this summer, but French can’t reveal details of the show or the channel at this time.

He does encourage you to book if you’re interested as dates are filling up quickly. The developer said that , in between the cabins, hiking, fishing, the unique design, and the proximity to Waco, the retreat offers something for everyone.

“The cabins have solid glass fronts, all kinds of widows, so all about bringing the outside in,” French said.

“It has been very fulfilling to see people experience and fall in love and really truly appreciate what we’ve worked so hard for.”

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