By Lisa Lance
A fixture at Lake of the Ozarks since it opened in 1964, The Lodge of Four Seasons is a retreat with all the amenities necessary to plan a variety of meetings and events.
In 2016, the 358-room resort completed a transformational $15 million renovation. How has the renovation changed things?
“The overall renovation has brought The Lodge of Four Seasons back in today’s era,” said Frederik Houben, director of sales and marketing at the Lodge. “The décor truly has been updated to fit and suit today’s, as well as tomorrow’s, travelers, leisure guests and meeting attendees.”
More than just a facelift, the renovation encompassed the resort’s guest rooms, restaurants, golf courses, swimming pools, meeting spaces and even outdoor spaces such as walking trails and landscaping. by Lisa Lance The Grande Dame of the Lake A Renovation Restores The Lodge of Four Seasons “We’ve received plenty of feedback with regards to how unbelievably beautiful the Lodge is,” said Houben. “How nice to see that the Lodge has come back to be the ‘Grande Dame’ of the lake.”
The Lodge of Four Seasons has also added employees. “From a calendar-year perspective, the Lodge has grown in occupancy so drastically that we needed to add more staff in all areas,” said Houben. “We’ve grown occupancy by over 20 percentage points year-over-year. We needed to hire [positions] from banquet staff to housekeepers, from desk clerks to restaurant servers to maintenance—literally all over, including golf course attendants, because we had such a high demand.”
Activities of All Kinds
Houben describes a stay at the Lodge as “the feeling of being on a cruise ship. So you don’t have to go anywhere – everything is here.” With a long list of activities, The Lodge of Four Seasons seems to have something for everyone. The resort boasts two golf courses: The Cove, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. signature golf course that opened in 1973 and was updated in 2016, and The Ridge, designed by golf course architect Ken Kavanaugh and built in 1991.
Its on-site spa—Spa Shiki—offers massages, facials, body treatments and wraps, hydrotherapy and light therapy, fitness classes and more.
Guests can rent wave runners and boats, take a guided fishing tour or organize a group dinner cruise at the resort’s full-service marina. Or they can enjoy activities off the water, such as trap shooting, disk golf, sand volleyball, or daily movies in the onsite theater.
Rhianna Somers is executive assistant at Enterprise Holdings in Kansas City, which operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands through its regional subsidiaries. She said the company has held its annual manager’s meeting at The Lodge of Four Seasons for more than five years, most recently in August of 2016.
“We chose this resort because it’s not too far from Kansas City and it has everything we need all in one place,” she said. “Our group never has to leave the property. Along with the great meeting spaces and food, they have an amazing spa and great golf courses. We offer our employees a choice of a spa credit or a day of golf and there has never been a time when either could not accommodate our group. We also love that there is an outdoor area and bar that all of us can hang out at to socialize and just relax.”
Even if a group doesn’t choose to take advantage of many of the available activities, the Lodge is an ideal for a no-frills meeting. Shelter Insurance Companies held an agent meeting at the Lodge in August of 2016 for 140 attendees. Matthew Sherrel, regional sales manager—Gateway Region, said they chose The Lodge of Four Seasons for convenience and quality. “We had a wonderful experience,” he said. “The agents enjoyed the meeting space and accommodations.”
A Space for Any Size Group
From Japanese gardens that can accommodate a wedding reception for up to 100, to the resort’s Campana Hall, which can seat up to 1,800 people for a convention, trade show or concert, The Lodge of Four Seasons has a space for every meeting size and type. Groups with presentation needs might enjoy the Cordoba Theater, which offers amphitheater seating for up to 230 guests with a desktop extension in the arm of each chair.
With its permanent dance floor and a stage, the Marbella Ballroom is suited to social events and can accommodate groups from 50 to 600.
Two Terrace rooms and one executive boardroom offer seating for smaller groups and feature natural rock walls and outdoor patio space. The resort also offers several smaller meeting rooms perfect for breakout sessions, such as the Barcelona and Madrid rooms.
And the Lodge offers a variety of dining options. HK’s Restaurant and Bar is billed as casual elegance, with views of the lake and the resort’s Japanese Gardens. More casual dining options on site include Soleils Café, which Houben describes as “our morning/lunch hour café where people can get a sandwich, a yogurt, a cup of coffee, cappuccino.” There is also Shutters (“honest, casual American cooking”) or Fire and Ice Patio and Bar, near the Cloverleaf pool—one of four swimming pools on the property.
The Lodge also offers a full banquet catering menu, with a variety of breakfasts (continental, plated, buffet), brunch, break items (including an “apple break,” a “chocolate break” and an “ice cream break”), lunch buffets (such as “Rustic American,” “Lakeside Picnic,” and “Taco Bar”), plated luncheons and box lunches. Dinner options include chilled and hot hors d’oeuvres, specialty stations (pasta, risotto, mashed potato, dim sum), salad and carving stations, plated dinners or dinner buffets. A variety of bar options are also available.
Dobbs Tire and Auto Centers, which is based in St. Louis, held an associate getaway at the Lodge last August. Steve Cain, general sales manager, said their group of 25 used vouchers for the breakfast buffet in HK’s Restaurant and Bar and utilized the restaurant for both formal and casual meals during the weekend.
“We held our formal dinner night at HK’s Steakhouse with an established predetermined menu,” Cain said. “The food was excellent and served in a timely manner. We also did a casual pizza night in a private room. HK’s pizza was very good and the atmosphere was relaxing and enjoyable.”
The Lodge’s event staff can help planners find the perfect fit for their meetings and events. “[The experience] is as seamless as possible,” said Houben of the process of planning an event with his team.
Small- to mid-size groups work with executive meeting managers at the resort, who, Houben explained, “guide the meeting planners straight from the beginning all the way to the end.” This includes handling contract negotiation, booking event space, menu selection, audio-visual equipment and other details. Larger groups are served by the resort’s convention services department, where the staff is experienced in coordinating events for up to 1,500 people.
In addition to 65,000 square feet of meeting space and an array of dining options and activities, The Lodge of Four Seasons’ lakeside location is a benefit in itself. Houben said nearly 50 percent of the meeting rooms offer natural daylight and lake views.
Andrea Knotts, administrative assistant at a Prudential Insurance firm in St. Louis, planned a financial leadership retreat and planning meeting at The Lodge of Four Seasons over a weekend last fall. The group utilized eight hotel rooms and the Seachase meeting room, which offers a panoramic view of the main channel of the lake.
The Lodge’s setting was one of the reasons they chose it for the event. “It is a great location and it is a beautiful secluded place during the winter to host a planning meeting while providing beautiful scenery,” she said.
Somers said consistently great experiences are why Enterprise Holdings keeps coming back to the Lodge. “The rooms and the overall atmosphere are perfect,” she explained. “Although they recently renovated you kind of still have that old lodge feeling, which I personally enjoy.”
She also praised the staff. “A few years ago the Royals were playing a pretty important game and very last minute the staff setup a TV for us outside so everyone could watch the game during dinner,” she said. “That is A+ service in our books.”
Lisa Lance is a freelance writer in Baltimore, Md