Joe Beber / Snap Magic Media Group

When it came time to find the perfect vacation home in 2019, Hot Springs was an obvious choice for James and Toneia Sheets of Texarkana, Texas. Their idea of a perfect getaway spot was one that would offer a lake lifestyle, local entertainment and must-see attractions all in one place—a trifecta of amenities only a few regional destinations can offer.

“When you live two hours away from Hot Springs, how could there be any place better than Lake Hamilton?” says James.

The pair first purchased a home on Marion Anderson in 2019, but Toneia had her sights set on their current house from the beginning. When out on the water, every time she saw the house, she declared that the two would own it one day. “I would repeatedly embarrass her by pulling our boat into the dock,” James says. A short time after purchasing the Marion Anderson property, a friend told the pair that his realtor had sent him a picture of what he called “the nicest lot on Lake Hamilton.” James joked that it couldn’t possibly be the nicest house on Lake Hamilton because Toneia’s dream house was, in fact, the nicest house on Lake Hamilton. It was the same house. James had a sale contract with the former owners by noon the next day. “After closing, when we pulled up to the dock, we couldn’t help but smile and give each other a little kiss,” he says. “We were finally at our forever dream home where we will eventually retire and live happily ever after.”

The truly breathtaking Sheets’ manor is situated on plush, vibrant green grass overlooking the picturesque lake. A step out to the first-level patio leads you directly to the home’s personal dock, making it perfect for spontaneous boat outings. In fact, that’s one of the family’s favorite things about their Hot Springs home. “We especially love that on most evenings we can boat from the dock of our house to many different lakefront restaurants, tie up and enjoy a variety of great foods and atmospheres.”

Joe Beber / Snap Magic Media Group

Joe Beber / Snap Magic Media Group

Joe Beber / Snap Magic Media Group

James is a clinical pharmacist and is the founder and CEO of CSI Pharmacy. Toneia grows and operates the pair’s real estate investment business, Rivershack Realty, which owns 25 Texas properties.

The Sheets have six children and five grandchildren, and they enjoy spending time with them at their Lake Hamilton home. While many had to cancel travel plans and gatherings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Hot Springs house became the perfect hideaway for the family.

“Our Hot Springs home has been a true blessing during the pandemic,” James says. “We spent weeks here at a time as we worked remotely.”

The Sheets family helped support their favorite restaurants on the lake by ordering food to-go and enjoying it from their boat or at the dock.

As far as how the city of Hot Springs responded to the pandemic, James says, “Hot Springs got it right by striking the right balance between public safety and economic activity. Restaurants could provide great food and drink to-go to families who could then enjoy the meals at the lake or isolated at one of the many local parks.”

Toneia calls historic downtown a “must-do experience” for first-time visitors. “If you have a family with young kids, take them on a stroll to the Mid-America Museum and spend a day at Magic Springs,” she says. Toneia also recommends calling one of the local marinas and renting a pontoon to explore the coves and beautiful houses, taking a quick dip to cool off and throwing the kids on a tube for a fun-filled afternoon.

James raves about the entire Oaklawn experience, where experts and amateurs alike are sure to have a blast. As for the local cuisine, “I’ll take the locally-owned restaurants over the chains every day of the week, and twice on Sunday (literally),” he says. A few of his favorites include Sam’s Pizza Pub, Bubba Brews and El Quetzals. For a romantic touch, he suggests surprising your loved one with a dinner cruise on the Belle riverboat or a reservation at The Vault.

Despite the fact that it’s a second home to them, the ever-flourishing city keeps the pair exploring each time they visit. “We love that Hot Springs is booming and exploding in growth,” James says. “It offers a small town feel with lots of recreational activities. The area was booming well before 2020; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the online economy. People who once were tied to working at a specific physical location can now work remotely with an internet connection and laptop. People are fleeing the large cities and choosing locations like beautiful Hot Springs to live.”

Joe Beber / Snap Magic Media Group