Dec 2022–What would possess a couple of tech entrepreneurs to erect eight yurts on 10 acres of land in the Texas Hill Country and rent them out as overnight accommodations?
“We just really liked it,” admitted Bill Paul, who with his wife, Jenny, are finishing their first year of operating Johnny Yurts, just 3 miles south of Johnson City off Hwy 281. “And we’ve found people like the concept of ‘glamping!’”
Glamping, or Glamour Camping, is a form of camping involving facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping, as the Pauls explain to their clients.
At first, it’s understandable not to see anything glamorous about a yurt, an ancient Mongolian shelter. Used for thousands of years by nomadic groups in Central Asia, the traditional yurt is a round tent with latticework walls covered with animal skins. They are portable, designed to be taken down and set up in a few hours.
But the yurts at Johnny Yurts, while faithful to the time-honored design, boast modern construction techniques in order to provide comfort, style, and amenities which today’s campers expect.
Johnny Yurts are built on raised wooden decks with outer walls 10 feet high and a ceiling close to 20 feet. The 500-square-feet interiors are large enough for two queen beds and kitchen and bath, tucked behind an L-shaped wall for privacy. They boast a double layer of insulation and have heating and air-conditioning able to handle most Texas weather. Other furnishings include a dining table, desk, and multiple chairs.
One amenity guests will not find is television.
“The property does have internet and if people need to get online for work, they can,” Bill Paul explained. “But most people we find really enjoy that it doesn’t have the built-in electronics. We want people to get out and enjoy nature.”
To that end, the Pauls erected the yurts in sets of four tents around a communal campfire with picnic tables. This arrangement is ideal for groups and families who desire a place to gather, or as a way to meet fellow travelers. Of course guests are welcome to keep to their accommodation and explore the area in glorious isolation.
So who is staying at Johnny Yurts?
“We designed the property to be a gateway to the Hill Country,” Paul said. “You can spend as much time in the Hill Country as you want. We want people coming out who love the atmosphere here, and use this as a stopping point to explore all that Blanco and Johnson City have to offer, whether the breweries, the wineries, the river, restaurants, or museums. We see it as a way to immerse themselves by staying overnight and not need to do the day trip.”
As B&B and hotels in this area go, the yurts are affordable, another goal the Pauls had when imagining their destination. The concept is working.
“We just love that the first-year feedback has been so positive, we’ve gotten so many people that give fantastic reviews,” Paul said. “One of the funniest things we get in the reviews is how comfortable the beds are. We’ve had at least five people reach out to us and ask where we got our mattresses!”
The yurts have become so popular they are fully booked almost every weekend. Bill and Jenny are looking to expand the concept to other locations. But for now, they enjoy their little corner of yurts as much as their guests do.
“We use the property whenever we can,” he said. “It is so nice to get away from the cities. The stars on the property are incredible. The ability to escape the computers and screen time and just enjoy the property and connect with each other is priceless.”
That seems to be a big reason people decide to come here–for their mental health.
“We built because we believed there are a lot of people that want to just be able to get away. They’re working remotely, they’re on Zoom calls all week long. Here, they can drive out to the Hill Country and enjoy the weekend, and quickly be seemingly miles away without it taking forever to get there.”
488 Stanton Rd.
Johnson City, TX
For bookings and information, visit johnnyyurts.com