By Astrid Zeppenfeld
“What are your plans for the weekend?”
“Oh, we’re going to the lake.”
Such a popular end-of-the-week conversation around the watercooler in companies located in Missouri. For a while, I didn’t know what my colleagues were talking about. Not having grown up here, I had not the slightest inkling of how truly beautiful Central Missouri was, especially The Lake of the Ozarks – one of Missouri’s best attractions, boasting a shoreline 300 miles longer than that of California, according to Wikipedia.
Where to meet and stay
For folks who do not own lakefront property, a popular place to stay is Tan-Tar-A Resort Golf Club, Marina and Indoor Waterpark in Osage Beach, soon to become known as Margaritaville Lake Resort this Spring when the last few of its renovations have been completed. Most areas of the resort have received “facelifts” in connection with the name change recently, and everything appears lighter in the breezy ocean colors inherent to Margaritaville properties. This simply gorgeous 420-acre property midway between Kansas City and Saint Louis features everything one could ask for in vacation, as well as corporate meeting planning. As a matter of fact, the facility is probably used just as much for large corporate meetings and events as it is used for smaller, private gatherings and parties. For anyone who has been to Tan-Tar-A, but hasn’t visited in a while, the old Black Bear Lodge has been transformed into a sunny, open JB’s Boathouse Grill, which is only one of five delicious dining options on-site.
Your other options include the fine dining establishment Windrose Marker 26, offering seafood and local specialties, Frank & Lola’s Pizzeria & Billiards for pizza and wings, License to Chill Bar and Grill (opening in the lobby in the Spring), and The Oaks at the golf course, for lunch during the season.
Getting down to business
For corporate events, the resort offers ample meeting space indoors and outdoors. Somewhere in the over 89,000 sq.ft. of indoor event space, an event planner has plenty of choices for meeting locations. There are many meeting rooms which can accommodate any size group from 10-3,000 guests, including a 23,000 sq.ft. ballroom and a 30,000 sq.ft. exhibit area, as well as 16 small to medium-sized breakout rooms. For an outdoor meeting, one can choose from the Picnic Grove, Windgate Plaza, Tradewinds Pool Deck, and Lakeside Deck – an outdoor pool and deck area for private group receptions and dinner events. Or the brand-new LandShark Restaurant, which will also be opening in the Spring. Ann Walters, Director of Sales at Tan-Tar-A Resort, says, “LandShark is on the main channel. The excitement is going to be amazing; it sits right on the waterfront and is accessible by land and by boat. There will be a swim-up bar and beach chairs on the sand beach.”
I would personally be willing to bet that a swim-up bar or a group of beach chairs on a sandy beach would infuse a business breakout session with new creative ideas to inspire corporate success. However, if you disagree and want to stay away from the water, I know some corporate meeting planners have held meetings on the golf or mini golf courses, in the bowling alley, or even during pony rides or fishing excursions on the property. Or you can enjoy a team-building experience during the day and only talk business over dinner. Margaritaville Lake Resort is your oyster!
Linda Nava, a retired Administrative Manager, who worked for SumnerOne for over 30 years, says, “Part of my responsibilities for almost 20 of those years was to plan our annual outing, which was held at Tan-Tar-A Resort. Activities always included rounds of golf, boating or just relaxing, as well as cocktail parties and dinners.” Nava stresses that she “always enjoyed working with the sales and catering staff at Tan-Tar-A. Everyone was more than willing to go above and beyond to make sure all of our experiences were unbelievably great. Every Tan-Tar-A employee involved in setting up these events always made sure our expectations were exceeded. We returned to Tan-Tar-A year after year because they treated us like family.”
Having the fabulous staff at Tan-Tar-A treat its guests like family was exactly what I personally experienced when I showed up there – with our four children in tow – to see the resort in person, while the youngsters got to enjoy the indoor water park as a special holiday treat. From the front desk manager, JB’s Boathouse Grill personnel, the bar & grill manager at the pool, to the very patient fellow whom my kids – unbeknownst to me – kept calling on the phone from the gaming arcade to exchange yet another couple of tickets for yet another slap wristband: Customer service was above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.
Jeanne Merritt, Marketing Director at Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, echoes that sentiment. “Having stayed at the hotel previously,I was excited to begin hosting our Missouri Sheriffs Spring Conferences at Tan-Tar-A Resort,” Merritt says. “The service has always been top notch. The staff is professional yet also treats us
like family. We are now scheduling five conferences per year at the resort, and have also hosted special events including golf tournaments, boat rides and evening events on the deck. Every event has been a success with great, friendly service.” Jill Hancock, founder and managing partner of C2C Association Management Solutions in Jefferson City, Missouri, puts the eagerness of Tan-Tar-A’s staff to help all its guests in a friendly, and still efficient, manner into words when she says, “At C2C Association Management Solutions, we provide non-profit associations with a variety of services, including conference and event planning. As the primary event and conference planner at C2C, I organize between 12 and 15 annual conferences each year for a variety of groups, most of which are hosted at Tan-Tar-A Resort. The level of service provided by the resort and event staff always is outstanding. They go above and beyond to provide each group with an incredible experience. From the meeting space selection to the food and beverage, everything exceeds expectations.” Hancock continues, “Tan-Tar-A is always at the top of my list, which is why I continue to go back year after year.”
Oh, the scenery
As soon as you drive onto the property and down the winding road, you feel like you’ll never want to leave again. Once you’ve left the scenic view of the golf course and horse stable and parked in one of the various parking lots conveniently scattered around the property, you find yourself in the main lobby, where you are greeted warmly and made to feel right at home.
After all your guests have checked into one of the 494 recently remodeled rooms, they can explore all of which the resort has to offer, including gift shops, swimming pools, a marina, and much more. One of the many advantages of Tan-Tar-A is that it is an all-inclusive resort and thus makes it easy to combine business and pleasure. So invite your guests to bring their families. Then, if the kids can no longer be entertained inside the beautiful guest room with its ocean-colors and state-of-the-art technology and the weather isn’t nice enough for the playground, they can game it up at the arcade or play water basketball and
slide down a combined 600 feet of water slides at the indoor waterpark. If you want to keep active during a work conference, you can play ping-pong, tennis, or use the pool and fitness center. There are also paddle-boats and -boards available for your fitness entertainment, as well as a scenic jogging trail.
The lake is where Midwesterners go to get away from hectic city life. On weekends, they go there just to relax and spend time with family and friends. During the week, corporate event planners bring their employees and clients. Tan-Tar-A is a place where you can easily combine both. This will certainly continue after the resort has been officially re-named Margaritaville Lake Resort. Ann Walters explains, “Margaritaville is all about the fun experience and bringing people together, but it’s still both family- and corporation-oriented.” Seems like a match made in heaven.
Astrid Zeppenfeld is a writer and MM&E’s editor/business development manager from St. Louis.