December 2014

Branson offers entertainment and a whole lot more

by Jeff Heilman

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    Showboat Branson Belle

With its own Strip and title as “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” Branson is comparable to Las Vegas and Austin, Texas, because of its sheer diversity of attractions and entertainment options, but this beloved American treasure deep in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri has an all-inclusive identity entirely its own.

“Family-friendly, patriotic, wholesome and down-to-earth, Branson is a truly unique destination,” says Steve Hartley, owner of one of Branson’s most popular draws, Dick’s 5 & 10, founded by his father Richard “Dick” Hartley in 1961. “Centrally located, easy to reach and economical for visitors, it’s a place run by passion and family values.”

Endlessly entertaining—offering more than 100 shows at 53 theaters with nearly 60,000 seats, you could spend a month or more here and not see the same show twice—Branson, with 20 percent of all hotel rooms in the state of Missouri, drew some 80 million visitors last year. As Deborah Cohen, director of meetings and convention sales for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and CVB explains, the appeal is just as strong for groups as for leisure visitors.

“While Branson is well known as a top vacation destination, meeting planners are amazed to learn that we also have state-of-the-art facilities and hotels with impressive culinary programs and impeccable service,” Cohen says. “From four-star corporate hotels to luxurious lakeside resorts and affordable lodges, Branson can exceed the high expectations of meeting planners and convention attendees.”

Planners and delegates yet to experience Branson may wonder what took them so long, given the sheer range and diversity of visitor assets.

“With numerous attractions, outdoor recreation options, live entertainment and world-class golf, there is truly something for everyone in our destination,” Cohen continues. “Whether you are hiking one of our trails, relaxing at one of our sophisticated spas, hitting the greens, shopping at a brand name outlet center or fishing in one of our pristine lakes, we know you will find ways to relax and unwind after your meetings are finished for the day.”

Returnees, meanwhile, know what’s in store, starting with top-class convention and supporting facilities. The state-of-the-art Branson Convention Center offers more than 113,725 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a divisible 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a nearly 23,000-square-foot ballroom and five meeting rooms ranging in size from 1,200 to 5,500 square feet. Delegates also have the convenience of the 294-room Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, adjacent to the center, and just steps away, the boutique 243-room Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing. Indeed, there’s a multiplicity of other choices across all price points—Branson offers more than 18,000 rooms in total.

From ABBA, Bee Gees, Elvis and Neil Diamond tribute acts and gospel music to comedy and acrobats, the entertainment is reason alone to come to Branson. With three area lakes and the massive Mark Twain National Forest nearby, outdoor enthusiasts and nature-lovers are in heaven. With more than 37,000 seats at 268 restaurants, delegates have a feast of dining choices, plus spas, shopping and much more.

“We often hear from planners and attendees that they are treated like family in Branson,” Cohen says of the many returning groups and other repeat customers. “We are a destination that can truly own the words ‘warm hospitality’ and we take pride in providing the best customer service around.”

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