At Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs, AR, our boutique hotel and golf resort was originally the vision of one of Arkansas’ most prolific business leaders, Herbert L. Thomas, and his wife Ruby. In 1961, the Thomases purchased 500 acres of lush, wooded hills near Heber Springs.
When Greers Ferry Dam was completed a year later, about 100 acres of their land became submerged underwater in what became Greers Ferry Lake. The remaining acreage was ripe for creating what the Thomases hoped would be the finest vacation destination and golf resort in Heber Springs—and in all of Arkansas’ Ozark foothills.
In 1963, with Ruby at the helm in the kitchen, the Red Apple Inn lodge and restaurant opened with great fanfare to become one of the only hotels in Heber Springs, Arkansas—only to burn to the ground the following year. In 1965, the hotel and restaurant reopened and became the site of many a memory for decades.
Along the way, a businessman-turned real estate developer named Melvyn Bell purchased the Heber Springs resort. Unfortunately, he’d expanded his holdings too quickly and went into serious debt. Red Apple Inn fell into disrepair despite his best efforts.
In 1995, Heber Springs residents Dick and Patti Upton, who founded one of Heber Springs’ most beloved stores, Aromatique, purchased Red Apple Inn. Their goal since has been to restore and renew the dream of creating an Eden Isle paradise that began with Herbert and Ruby Thomas, and they have invested in extensive renovations through the years.
In 1982, Herbert Thomas died at the age of 83. He spent his last two years dedicating his time and energy to focus on the development of Eden Isle. He helped to ensure that new homes utilized native landscaping and low profiles so that the beauty of the lake could be enjoyed for generations to come. His Eden Isle home, called Northwinds, remains today.
Though he did not have the opportunity to see his dream fully realized, Thomas is likely smiling down on Dick and Patti Upton and Red Apple Inn.