By Anita K. Parran
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains is one of the most popular destinations in Missouri for families, companies, and all visitors to the area.
Lynn Berry, Director of Communications for the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau describes it best. “The natural beauty of the mountains and lakes, the unexpected levels of service and facilities, endless options for entertainment – both indoors and outdoors – and without a doubt, genuine hospitality… We are very proud of the many entertainment and outdoor adventure attractions that Branson has to offer.”
Big Cedar Lodge
Branson boasts a plethora of facilities that offer unlimited amenities and activities. Big Cedar Lodge, founded by conservationist and outdoorsman Johnny Morris, is described as a “grand wilderness resort, reminiscent of lavish, turn-of-the-century Adirondack, hunting lodges, but with all of the modern comforts.” The 4,600-acre enclave offers something for everyone.
The facility has a combination of 318 guest rooms, cottages, and cabins for multiple visitors. The Grandview Conference Center houses the Grand Hall that overlooks the 50,000-acre Table Rock Lake for special occasions, but there are also 16 meeting rooms of various sizes to accommodate banquets, and either classroom or theatre style gatherings.
Big Cedar Lodge provides a variety of entertainment activities including Fun Mountain, the 50,000 square-foot adventure complex that features NASCAR-themed go-carts, a ropes course, arcade games, laser tag, bumper cars, underwater bowling, and indoor golf simulator.
Guests can also enjoy extreme pampering in the 18,000 square-foot Cedar Creek Spa featuring a fireplace in each room, secluded coves, and an indoor grotto pool with underwater lounges with full-body massage jets.
“As a meeting planner, I LOVE Branson. The hospitality and friendliness are exceptional, from the front desk workers, to the servers, convention services to management. I never hear “No- we can’t do that.” I do hear “Let’s see how we can make that happen.” Production costs are lower so our show always looks better. We can afford to do more than in the other cities. The amenities are top-notch. And there are hotels/rooms across the city to meet every budget.
“Our guests love Branson. And they bring the family and make it a getaway. I love working with the people in Branson. They make us feel welcomed and valued. Las Vegas and Branson – the two best hospitality towns in the country. And until you are on the receiving end of that hospitality, you have no idea how good it is to visit/host your event in that kind of environment.”
– Maggie Eubanks, Executive Director, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Mid-America
The Radisson Hotel
Branson visitors can also enjoy the more traditional, but luxury accommodations, at the Radisson Hotel located in the heart of the city. The 172-room site is the proud recipient of the 2018 President’s Award for exceptional services and hospitality.
“Our guests always compliment us on the friendly staff, security and safety measures, and the numerous amenities that we offer,” says Ray Archuletta, General Manager. “The hotel even has washers and dryers for our visitors. We are ‘home’ to the teams associated with Ballparks of America and they find the guest laundry especially useful.”
A full-service hotel, the Radisson features a special indoor/outdoor pool, Wildwood Bistro for dining and the Time Out Lounge sports bar for casual gatherings. Guests can relax in the spa and utilize the fitness and business centers.
Archuletta explains that the hotel has instituted aggressive cleanliness measures during the pandemic. “We’ve installed plexiglass where appropriate, all employees wear masks, there are specific housekeeping protocols, sanitizers have been installed on each floor, and we practice social distancing.”
“Branson is an ideal location that is very appealing to our national members. It’s within driving radius of 15 states and 25 cities. No matter the weather, you can find much to do because of the unlimited options and number of attractions.”
– Todd Lorenz, University Extension, Site Selection Committee
Branson Convention Center
Like the Radisson and many other locations, the Branson Convention Center is also practicing COVID-19 safety. “We have implemented Venue Shield,” says Marc Mulherin, General Manager of Branson Convention. “This program was designed by ASM Global and offers the highest level of facility cleaning and safety.”
The 220,000 square-foot convention center can accommodate from five to 5,000 individuals, and has ample exhibit space, banquet space, and breakout rooms. Guests at the facility enjoy the “overall customer service experience,” Mulherin observes. “Top notch trendy food and beverage all served in a state-of-the-art convention center managed by ASM Global.”
“Branson has become a destination in Missouri based on all of the exciting things you can do here,” Mulherin states. “Shopping. Entertainment. Golf. Attractions. Lake life. All are first-class and convenient.” The Convention Center is located within walking distance from Historic Branson Downtown and the Branson Landing where shopping and entertainment venues are located.
A Holistic Meeting Destination
Not only does Branson satisfy a meeting planner’s ideal destination criteria; this destination exceeds it.
With attractions such as Silver Dollar City, named “America’s Best Aerial Adventure Park” by USA Today two years in a row, and the recently opened WonderWorks indoor amusement park, companies have several unique opportunities outside of their meetings and events.
And the attraction and sight-seeing possibilities continue to expand. “Coming to Branson in 2021 is the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, which will bring the ocean to the Midwest,” Berry reveals.
“Branson is a gem! I’m always amazed at the talent and it’s so easy to get to now! Hope to be back soon!”
– Debra Ravenscraft, Manager-Global Accounts, HelmsBriscoe-Chicago
With exceptional facilities, unequaled hospitality, quality entertainment and activities, it is no wonder that when people visit Branson, the most common response is, “I had no idea!”
Anita K. Parran is a contributing writer from Kansas City.