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For all the toll the desert

takes…it gives compensations, deep

breaths, deep sleep, and the communication of the stars.  

– Mary Hunter Austin


Desert Magic

By Jennifer Casseday-Blair

Set on nearly 300 acres in the high desert of far West Texas, Willow House is a treasured Terlingua retreat with unobstructed views of the haunting Chisos Mountains. 

What Lauren Werner has forged in the Willow House goes beyond a lavish desert oasis; it’s a wanderlust inspiration for off-the-beaten-path travelers on a private ranch offering never-before accessible views. Guests can enjoy a serene, solitary experience under the starriest of skies but also relax in community spaces featuring a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, living area and outdoor fire pit. It’s the ideal combination of privacy and community, isolation and accessibility, elegance and comfort. Lauren is the founder of Willow House, and as a first-time hotelier, Lauren’s No. 1 goal was to create a design that was totally in tune with the surrounding beauty. 

Quite possibly one of America’s last frontiers, the closest town of Terlingua is a mining town-turned-ghost town that was first inhabited by Comanches, Apaches and Tejanos. Less than two hours from Marfa, which in terms of desert distance is just a hop, skip and a jump, this region was descended upon by Texas ranchers about 100 years ago. Today the area draws a wild menagerie of Hollywood A-listers, art-world bigwigs, oil tycoons, cowboys and hipsters, all culminating to create a mysterious, alluring community.

Completed in 2019, Willow House is not only environmentally conscious, but also eco-resourceful. Because water is scarce in the region, 12 single-story, stand-alone casitas utilize a water well powered by a solar pump filtered by two heavy-duty reverse osmosis systems. Walls and pathways throughout the grounds are constructed of rocks that were sourced and collected from various areas of the property, and dead ocotillo branches found nearby were used to create shady structures. 

Willow House’s proximity to Big Bend National Park provides guests easy access to the Rio Grande River and Chisos Basin hikes. From horseback riding and ATV adventures to river rafting and ziplining, the mountains, desert and rivers of this area are nature’s playground. At the end of a long day, Willow House provides guests what they desperately need…a remote place to clear their heads and a quiet respite away from the noise of the news.

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