Holiday Inn Sunspree

September 26, 2004

Experienced hospitality professionals, a fabulous location, dedication to service and wonderful food make the Holiday Inn Sunspree at the Lake of the Ozarks a winning choice year after year for planners throughout the stateFF_HISunspree

The word “success” in the hotel business can have a lot of meanings. All too often, it means that an individual staff member or a sales team swoops into property, scores high numbers and moves on. End of story.

But that’s not the case at the Lake of the Ozark’s Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. Oh, the part about scoring high numbers is accurate, but the moving on is not. Success at the Holiday Inn Sunspree has everything to do with commitment, longevity, service and experience.

Just look at the numbers — not the occupancy rates, which are excellent, but the years of service of key personnel. First, there’s General Manager Mark Bowman, who has held that position for 17 years. That’s virtually unheard of in the hotel business. How about Sales Director Barb Teer? She’s been with the property for 20 years. She started the sales department. Clearly, with 37 years of experience between them at the same property, Teer and Bowman are “vested” in the property. The dedication to the property and its clients are evident in everything they do, and it pays off in the number of clients who return to the property year after year because they have complete faith in the staff at Holiday Inn Sunspree.

“We do big business with small groups,” notes Teer, who handles the association market for the property. She notes that association business makes up about 60 percent of the hotel’s group business. And a whopping 80 percent of their group business is repeat business.

The hotel wins that type of loyalty  with its dedication to a “make it right” program.

Food and Beverage Director Cynthia Shaw explains, “Each person working at the property is empowered to ‘make it right,’ when encountering a client with a problem.” She notes that a “make it right” committee consisting of both managers and hourly employees ensures that the program keeps going strong.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of the Holiday Inn Sunspree’s excellent service is the Intercontinental Hotels’ Quality Excellence Award it recently received. The award is based upon how guests score the hotel.

The property opened in 1963, and was owned by Clarence Ziegler, who remained the sole owner until 1999. The “kids stay free” concept, which Holiday Inn developed, still applies at the property – and kids eat free too!  This aspect is certainly appealing to families or business travelers with their families in tow.

The “Sunspree” brand in the Holiday Inn family represents its resorts division. The property at the Lake is the only “Sunspree” in the Midwest.

The resort is located a couple of miles south of Bagnell Dam. Like other lake properties, it attracts a driving clientele. Unlike other lake properties, this resort has a host of amenities, including its own conference center.

Perched on a hillside, the resort offers fabulous views of the lake and the wooded countryside. The buildings cling to the hillside and are separated by parking areas, giving guests good access to their rooms and meeting space, while allowing for a strong sense of privacy.

The Holiday Inn Sunspree has 200-plus rooms featuring ironing boards, safes, microwaves, refrigerators, hair dryers and 25-inch televisions. The resort also boasts seven suites, two outdoor pools (one heated), a hot tub, an indoor heated pool and fitness center, whirlpool, arcade, miniature golf, shuffleboard, a playground, a gift shop and boat slips.

The pool area is perfect for group functions, notes Teer.

“We have lots of group functions at the pools,” she says. “We can accommodate up to 400 people poolside.”

The property’s 12 meeting and banquet rooms accommodate groups of 10 to 800 persons. All rooms meet ADA specifications and have built-in sound systems, full line of audio-visual equipment including cordless sound systems and data video projectors. The conference center gives planners a variety of meeting and breakout options, as do the Lakeside meeting and banquet rooms. Detailed meeting room details and catering menus are featured on the property’s Web site

One of the property’s greatest assets is its food and beverage function. The AAA  Three-Diamond PortSide Restaurant and Lounge offers a panoramic view of the lake’s main channel, and the dining deck provides groups another outdoor function area.

A cocktail party at sunset would be a fabulous way to finish a day of productive meetings.

Shaw and Executive Chef Vincent Charbonneau are committed to “creating great memories,” notes Shaw.

“The quality of our food is superior,” she says. “Our attention to detail is total. We are known for outstanding food in our restaurant, but our banquet food is second to none.”

Though a young woman, Shaw boasts 30 years of food service experience. She grew up in the business, and after college in Austin, Texas, came back to the Midwest to work at the Hereford House and Golden Ox in Kansas City. She worked at the Lake’s Blue Heron and The Barge before joining the resort two years ago.

She has high standards and goals for the food service at the Holiday Inn Sunspree.

“We want to get beyond the idea that Holiday Inn food is directed to families only,” she notes. “Not only do we cater to the family side of the business, we also can prepare a fabulous banquet or an intimate dinner for two.”

A graduate of the Johnson County Community College culinary art program, Charbonneau brings excitement to the menus, both in the PortSide and in banquets. He’s been at the Holiday Inn Sunspree since 1998.

Banquet menus are exciting, and range from traditional chicken, steak and seafood offerings to themed buffets and breaks. Hard-working attendees will appreciate the “Just Like Home” break, with its homemade breads, freshly baked cookies and warm apple pie. Or how about breaking up a long afternoon with the “I Scream, You Scream …” break which features – you guessed it – a make-your-own sundae bar and assorted shakes, malts and rootbeer floats. Theme dinner buffets include the “Ozark Barbecue,” “Mardi Gras,” Hawaiian Luau,” “Home Cookin’” and more. Details about the banquet menus are available at the property’s Web site.

Plus, the property offers a hearty breakfast buffet in the PortSide restaurant.

“We offer the breakfast buffet here in the PortSide so that when groups are in, they can have a fast morning routine,” says Shaw.

Teer notes that she is so confident about the food service at the property, she gives site-visiting planners a food voucher for their stay.

“Whatever they choose, it will be outstanding,” she says. “I’m that confident in our food and beverage product.”

Of course, beyond the property itself, the lake offers planners recreational options galore. Want to golf or plan a golf outing for your group? No problem, says Teer. As members of the Lake Golf Council, the property can offer its guests play at numerous A-list courses throughout the lake area. Adjacent to the lake’s largest marina makes the Holiday Inn Sunspree an ideal place for your group to access a private charter yacht such as the 75-foot, 150-passenger Tropic Island II.

Shopping, amusement parks, water parks, tennis and beautiful parkland are also nearby.

It’s no wonder that guests rave about the Holiday Inn Sunspree on their comment cards. This resort is a natural beauty whose commitment to service and innovation keep 80 percent of group customers coming back year after year while continuing to serve leisure travelers in the dependable, friendly tradition of Holiday Inn properties throughout the country. MM&E

Sales Dept 573-365-2334 or 800-532-3575

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.