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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Wholesome Branson’s always a family hit

Courtesy Branson/Lakes Area CVB

A nearly $3 million renovation slated to begin in August at the Radisson Branson Hotel is the hottest news in the “Live Music Show Capital of the World,” according to Deborah Cohen, director of marketing and convention sales at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Meeting space, restaurants, the lobby and public spaces will get a facelift; the hotel will also double the size of its fitness center. Work should be done in early 2012.

“We are starting with the 27 suites on our keyed ninth floor,” said Jacquie Manuel, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “The layouts of our suites are amazing, and the bathrooms are humongous.”

When the Radisson was built in 1992, it was a 500-room hotel, the largest in Branson. Since then, some first-floor rooms were converted into much-needed meeting space.

The now 472-guest-room hotel has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including eight breakout rooms on the lobby level and a 6,000-square-foot ballroom on the lower level.

Also new to Branson are additional flights into Branson Airport, built in 2009. AirTran Airways began nonstop service in May from Baltimore/Washington, Chicago (Midway) and Houston (Hobby).

Wholesome live music shows — the Osmonds have a theater there, and there are more than 50 live performance theaters in town — attractions that appeal to multiple generations and abundant outdoor activities allow meetings to easily incorporate attendees’ families.

“We often find that meeting delegates bring their families to our destination because of the many diverse entertainment options available,” said Cohen.

New this year at Silver Dollar City theme park is Half Dollar Holler, a $1 million play area for children 4 to 7 years old, new shows at Showboat Branson Belle and a new river ride at White Water, a 12-acre outdoor water park operated by Silver Dollar City. This year’s project is its biggest expansion ever.

The attractions are used by children but often also by meeting groups for team building.

“One of the biggest surprises for people who have never been here is how much Branson has to offer,” said Cohen. “They either don’t know anything about us, or they know us as a place their grandparents went. They don’t know that we have hip and trendy spots, a beautiful lake, great hotels, dining, entertainment, golf, and on and on and on.”