• Working as a team, from left, Kawaii Cummings, Mahathi and Archit Nangavaram and Edwin Cummings try to solve the mystery behind the locks in this room at Hill Country Escape. — Standard-Radio Post/Richard Zowie

Business offers chance to 'escape'

Hill Country Escape customers work as a team, use wit, skill to win

Ben Skoog, brother of Fredericksburg resident Lorrie Hess, had an idea for a game that local residents would like to play.

Inspired by the “Escape,” “Panic Room” and “So Many Locks” games that were becoming the rage, he built an “Escape” game in his garage in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

“He sat down and thought it up — what kind of themes he’d like to have, so your decorations and puzzles could go along with that and give you the feeling of being locked in and finding your way out,” said Hess. “He invented everything — all of the puzzles, locks, secret doors.”

After testing it, he disassembled it and brought it to Fredericksburg. Dwain Cheeseman did the inside walls.

After going through a few more test runs, Hill Country Escape opened its doors on May 4.

Hess, who manages and co-owns the business, described it as one that can be a team-building exercise.

“He felt Fredericksburg would be a better location for this business,” Hess said of her brother. “So he asked me to check out numbers and I knew it would work. I checked visitors versus locals and felt we had the base and visitors to support this.”

Currently, Hill Country Escape has three rooms: Shady Hills Vineyard, Heart of Texas and Oktoberfest. Those who enter the rooms have an hour inside the locked room and use their wits and skills to find the clues and unlock the locks to eventually escape the room.

“Every team is clever, and they need to work together to get out of the room,” Hess said. “The goal of this game is to have fun being with each other while participating in the game.”

“This isn’t a sit-back-and-watch type of game,” she said. “It’s not like watching sports or a movie. You’re inside a controlled environment, and you work together in a live, exciting way.”

Some players who don’t solve the room will come back and try again. Others who solve the room will try another room.

“For us, the challenge is finding new players,” Hess said. “It’ll be 10 months to a year before we can change the games. They’re very time consuming to change. And they have to be tested, using different props. We’ll literally move walls to change games.”

The idea behind the rooms is to design them where they’re not too easy or too difficult. If too easy, people grow bored. If too hard, people get discouraged and don’t try again, she said.

Hess said they’ve seen a huge increase lately in business. Those who would like to play need to call 830-542-4094 or go online to www.hillcountryescapegame.com and click the “Book Now” icon.

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228