Sometimes life has a way of pulling people in different directions. Often, that can mean long distances between family and friends. But, as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and that’s why it is such an enjoyable experience to get together with loved ones and friends whenever possible. For many, Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks offers the perfect place to reunite and catch up with those distance has kept apart.
Located in the heart of the “Heartland,” the Lake of the Ozarks’ central location makes travel easy for everyone in the group. For many decades, the Lake of the Ozarks has been a drive-to destination for visitors from around the country, and with three major airports within three hours of the Lake, the Lake is easy to get to regardless of a visitor’s preferred mode of transportation. More importantly, the Lake of the Ozarks has activities and accommodations that meet the needs of all reunion attendees.
According to Jen West, group business development manager for the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association, the Lake of the Ozarks hosts hundreds of reunions of various types. Each year, West personally assists in the planning of roughly 100 reunions. In addition, West helps with planning numerous corporate and association events.
West is a “one-stop shop” when it comes to group travel planning and she enjoys working with new clients as well as returning groups. “I assist groups with where they want to stay at the Lake, what kind of accommodations they are looking for, whether they need a large meeting space, what kind of activities they want while they’re visiting the Lake and provide suggestions on restaurants and fun things to do around the Lake.”
Many groups find it hard to believe that this hands-on planning service is free. “A lot of people think that they have to pay for this service because they’ve been used to having to pay a party planner,” West says. “But, this is a free service that the Tri-County Lodging Association provides. We want our visitors, no matter the size of the group, to have an incredible experience and make the most of their time with loved ones and friends that perhaps they haven’t seen in years.”
Groups interested in hosting a reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks can either call West directly or they can fill out and submit a simple request form online that asks questions about the group and its needs. The compiled information is then sent to lodging facilities that meet the group’s requirements. From there, the lodging properties will reach out directly to the group’s reunion planner that submitted the form in order to begin ironing out the details.
Reunion planners should allow ample lead time when organizing a reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks as there are multiple reunions held each weekend during the summer season when children are out of school and venues fill up quickly. Military and class reunions with older members may find the spring and fall seasons offer more flexibility in lodging and host venues.
Whether a group wants to enjoy quiet nature or be in the heart of the action, or a combination of both, the Lake of the Ozarks offers the perfect venue for gathering together and reconnecting.
The wide variety of lodging accommodations at the Lake of the Ozarks means there are host locations to fit every group. The Lake’s selection of resorts, whether more intimate family-owned resorts or full-service luxury resorts, cater to reunions by offering comfortable accommodations at moderate prices with amenities on property and large spaces for gathering the whole group together. However, resorts are just one of many options used by reunion planners, who can also choose from cabins, RV parks and campsites, bed and breakfasts, lakeside condominiums and vacation homes.
Those who prefer to explore the Lake of the Ozarks area will find activities for every age and interest. For those who like to hit the links, the Lake has 13 championship golf courses, 12 of which make up the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail. For many groups, shopping in the area’s different boutique stores and unique shops is a popular activity. And, the local arcades, go-karts, indoor or outdoor waterparks, ziplines and miniature golf keep attendees of all ages, but especially the younger ones, entertained and smiling.
Outdoor-lovers will find miles and miles of trails for hiking and biking in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the state’s largest, and in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Lake of the Ozarks also has two free public swimming beaches and Ha Ha Tonka features the famous ruins of a 1900s “castle.” The Lake’s four different show caves also can accommodate large groups.
On-the-water fun, including fishing, boating, paddle boarding, tubing, parasailing and wakeboarding, are also popular activities. Many of the resorts, local marinas, as well as the Lake’s state parks, offer rentals of boats, personal watercraft, kayaks and paddle craft, and there are launches at the resorts and other locations around the Lake for those who bring their own boats. Visitors can hire local professional fishing guides for a full- or half-day of fishing. The guides provide all the necessary equipment for an outing and also know the spots in the Lake where the fish are biting. Additionally, groups can reserve spots on the Lake’s three luxury cruise yachts’ scheduled daily public cruises or make a reservation for a private charter.
It’s never too early to begin planning a reunion or to reach out to Jen West at Tri-County Lodging Association. For more information on planning reunions at the Lake of the Ozarks, visit the “Reunions” page on the www.FunLake.com website.
For a complete list of all the fun events, unique attractions and enjoyable year around activities, as well as dining options available at the “Best Recreational Lake in the Nation” and “Best Lake for Water Sports in the Nation,” visit www.FunLake.com or call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau at