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Trip Report Branson - March trip report

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I met my girlfriend in Branson for a "girls long weekend" in mid-March. We drove in on Saturday and met at Cantina Laredo at the Branson Landing. Good food, good service, the margaritas looked great! but I was driving... could see the fountain and fire "show" along the river. It warmed up nicely over the weekend and there was outdoor dining available.

Went on to Chateau on the Lake for early check in. We had a "lakeview" suite with a balcony. While there was a "view" of the lake, I think we were too low (5th floor) to make much of a difference -- lots of construction in the area, so you are looking at a lot of bare dirt; and the tennis court, playground, outdoor pool. Maybe summer is nicer. I have no idea what is meant by "mountain view." Probably wouldn't pay extra for "lake view" if I went again.

The property is upscale for the area. The hotel itself looks very imposing when you approach from the east at night -- all lit up. The mattress and pillows were HORRIBLE -- lumpy lumpy -- probably the worst I have ever slept on - and I have slept around! So I didn't have a decent nights sleep the whole time.

The Chateau has free movies every afternoon and evening. The concierge was nice enough to schedule a movie that we had not seen before -- this with a couple weeks notice. (when we lived in the same city, my friend and I made sure we had seen every Oscar nominated movie, actors, director, each year)

The Spa Chateau was fairly upscale. The reservation desk was not well run. Tiffany was my massage therapist and I also had a salt scrub with her. I would recommend her. The treatment rooms were among the most luxurious I have seen. Very nice indoor and outdoor whirlpool. Small steam room and sauna. Nice waiting lounge with hot tea, snacks. The attendant was very attentive. My friend had a mani/pedi with Hanna and it was worthless (her polish began peeling the next day). Glad I opted for the salt scrub!

We went to The Dueling Piano Bar on Saturday night and it was a lot of fun! There was a family there with small children at the beginning of the evening and I wondered if they knew what they were in for; the piano players kept it mostly clean while they were there. There were a number of groups there -- a bachelor party, girls weekend groups, everyone wanting to have a great time. After the family with small children left, things got a little raunchier from both the musicians and the audience. My friend ordered two mixed drinks and didn't think there was any alcohol in either of them. My beer was fine. The hamburger I ordered was suprisingly good -- but people do not go there for the food. There were a lot of drunk people there by the time we left, but I don't know what they were drinking!

The Sunday brunch at the Chateau is very good ! So many choices....of just about everything. But no outdoor dining -- they open that up based on date, whether it is warm or not prior to that date. After a long day of walking, shopping, etc. on Sunday we came back hoping to relax in the hot tub -- it was only 10:00 p.m. but the hotel was performing maitenance on the pool and hot tub -- the hot tub was drained and wouldn't be ready until the following morning. Couldn't they have done the maitenance at 2 a.m.?

The drive from the Chateau to Branson Landing wasn't bad at all, time wise or traffic wise, though not very scenic -- at least the back way we took. If you are driving in from Springfield and take the mountain road, that one is more scenic. Of course in mid March, it isn't exactly gorgeous anyway you go.

You could stay at the Hilton and never leave Branson Landing -- plenty of decent places to eat, mostly shopping that you would find at any mall or metro area. A short walk to some of the older shops in Branson --including the five and dime. Also right across from the Branson Scenic Railway. We had our Sunday evening meal at the smoked meat restaurant opposite Cantina Laredo. They were not staffed for outdoor dining even though it was a warm day. My steak was very good. My friend wanted salmon, but they were out.

We drove down to Big Cedar Lodge for lunch on our final day. It looked like a GREAT place for a family vacation, girls weekend (if you like a rustic out of the way place -- with a spa), what have you. Lots of lodging options, cabins, a number of things to do that are included with lodging -- and a lot of things to do that cost a lot extra. Unlike the Chateau -- the outdoor pool and hot tub were already open as was the outdoor dining. There were a lot of families there - it was a lot busier than the Chateau. It was very scenic -- no distracting construction. Once you drive out of the Lodge property it is a straight shot on highway 65 to Branson if you wanted to spend an afternoon there/catch a show. I am thinking of planning a family reunion type vacation there.

We did see the Chinese acrobats and it was a good show for all ages. A little cheesy at times, but entertaining. I think my kids would have liked it when they were younger.

Of course, the best thing about the long weekend was spending time with a friend I don't see very often. So in that respect, it was a success.