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reel in a couples mountain getaway

A husband and wife change up vacation preferences and find harmony in southwest Missouri.
By Jennifer Bondurant

For my husband and me, a getaway without the kids doesn’t happen often. I have to be honest about one of the reasons: My husband’s idea of a vacation doesn’t match mine.

chateau on the lake

Above: Chateau on the Lake is an oasis of luxury in Branson. The resort’s spa offers a variety of treatments, including packages for couples. Chateau on the Lake photo

Below: Morning fog creates a mood on the lake for anglers. Branson’s three lakes are known for world-class fishing and water recreation. Branson/ Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau photo

In title: W. Krasowski/ photo


For Steve, any vacation that doesn’t involve camouflage, trekking through the woods, or bait lacks appeal. I’m happy with a book and a peaceful spot for reading. I’m in heaven with a massage and a little robe-and-slippers spa time.

We recently discovered the value of a his-and-hers vacation on a trip to Branson, Mo. With reservations at Branson’s only AAA Four Diamond resort, Chateau on the Lake, we planned a weekend to do what we wanted. The trick was we were going to do those things we each wanted–together. On the agenda: fly-fishing on Lake Taneycomo, spa treatments at Spa Chateau, and dining at Chateau Grille.

Hook a great getaway

Branson’s known for its array of entertainment, but just a few minutes from showbiz central, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo provide a natural vista that feels like a world away. A short drive from the bustle of Branson via state Highway 265, Chateau on the Lake appears like a dream. With 301 rooms, the European-inspired resort rises like a castle in the tree-studded Ozarks.

We checked in at night, which meant we had to wait until the next morning to see the wide water of Table Rock Lake from our balcony window. Steve was excited by the view and the promise of fishing, and I have to admit, I was looking forward to our excursion, too.

Branson offers great fly-fishing in the clear, cold water of Lake Taneycomo. With the guided help of River Run Outfitters, we were set for a half-day trout trip. Owned and operated by Stan and Carolyn Parker, River Run Outfitters is one of Branson’s largest guide services. We met the couple at their shop on state Highway 165, the kind of place regulars hang out and newbies find a helping hand.

We spent about four hours on the water, flipping our wrists and letting the lines fly. I pulled in the first rainbow trout of the day and learned that the cast is only half the battle. Hooking the fish takes as much touch and skill.

While Steve asked questions related to what we were actually there for–the trout–I asked about the story behind River Run Outfitters. The Parkers were the perfect choice for our guide service, not just because of their fishing expertise but because the business is an extension of their marriage. Instead of retiring, the couple turned their hobby into a thriving guide service.

Tips for fly-fishing with your husband: Go with a guide who will do all the dirty work, and tread carefully when wading, as the rocky bottom is slick and water can be swift.

After fishing, we headed back to the resort for a gourmet meal at Chateau Grille, complemented by fine wine and a gorgeous view of Table Rock Lake. While selections of steak with South African lobster tail and coconut-crusted mahi mahi were good, the meal’s highlight was the Barbecued Duck Confit Napoleon appetizer that came with fried wontons and Sesame Napa Slaw.

Relaxing together

Part two of this getaway was a romantic spa escape–Royal Celebration for Two–that included candlelit baths and side-by-side massages in a private spa suite. The spa’s director also suggested a hot lather shave for my husband, so I signed him up.

After checking into our respective locker rooms, we were escorted to the couples’ massage room. Lit softly, back-to-back deep tubs lined the far wall of the wide room. After our jetted soaks, we moved to the massage tables in the center of the room, ready for time to drop away during our 80-minute massages. As Steve headed to the spa’s barber, I enjoyed the cozy outdoor Jacuzzi.

Tips for taking your spouse to the spa for a first trip:

• Ease into it
• Discuss spa etiquette to ease any fears
• Schedule downtime to sit and relax together
• Make full use of the spa facilities during your visit

More options

At Beau Rivage Resort and Casino (AAA Four Diamonds) in Biloxi, Miss., a twosome can play championship golf, shop, and enjoy a spa.

Golfers will revel in play at Fallen Oak Golf Course at the resort’s 18-hole course, which makes full use of its natural surroundings, including century-old oak trees, streams, lakes, and marshland.

The spa can offer a Couple’s Retreat package with dual massages, manicures, and pedicures. Deck yourselves out with designer clothing–for men and women–and jewelry, or find a special gift at the Promenade Shops. Entertainment, fine dining, gaming action, and more will round out a weekend here.

Rates vary depending upon date of booking and date of stay, but start at $129 and run up to $279 per night. Visit for the best deals. See your AAA Travel professional for reservations or call the resort at (228) 386-7111 for more information.

Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana has more than enough outdoor recreation, sightseeing, and nightlife to keep a couple busy for at least a weekend.

Golfers know the courses on the Audubon Golf Trail in Louisiana are among some of the South’s finest. In fact, Gray Plantation Golf Course in Lake Charles has been picked by Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 places to play in the U.S. for the past six years. This 18-hole, 7,000-yard course has more than 60 acres of lakes incorporated into play. Weekend fees are $65, but players can save $10 Monday–Thursday.

Other outdoor activities include fishing and exploring the Creole Nature Trail. Of course, there are other pursuits that do not involve a club or reel.

Take a walking tour of the 40-block Charpentier Historic District and view some of Louisiana’s prettiest Victorian architecture. Shop for antiques or explore some of the various boutiques and gift shops.

When it’s time to rest, L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort (AAA Three Diamonds) has a spa to help couples unwind after a day on the course. You also can float down the lazy river to the poolside bar for a cool drink and dip.

Hotel rates vary depending upon date of booking and date of stay, but start at about $130 for a standard room. For more information, see your AAA Travel professional or call the resort at (86) 580-7444.

Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles, Fla., offers the perfect ocean view to reconnect with your significant other. This AAA Five Diamond property features four swimming pools and powdery soft beaches. Sporty types can rent personal watercraft of ocean kayaks, try sport fishing, snorkeling or seek out one of five area championship golf courses.

Spa lovers will want to book time at Aqualina Spa by ESPA. A private spa option features treatments tailored to the clients’ needs, a steam shower for two, and a spa lunch.

Rates vary depending upon date of booking and date of stay, but the oceanfront hotel rooms start at $650 per night. See your AAA Travel professional for reservations or call (866) 502-8843 for more information.

Our his-and-her getaway was a success. My husband enjoyed the massage, and I wouldn’t have gone fishing without him. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good for the soul, and stepping into the comfort zone of the one you love is good for the relationship.

Jennifer Bondurant is a contributor from Auxvasse, Mo.

May/jun 2012 Issue


Rooms at Chateau on the Lake with mountain views start at $229 per night during the summer season, but if you want a lake view, a king room overlooking the water starts at $279. Expect to pay $359 for a Royal Celebration of Love for two at Spa Chateau (1 hour, 45 minutes). A half-day drift boat trip for two with River Run Outfitters runs $255.

For more information, contact the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 296-0463 or

Travelers also will find updates at the Web site concerning Branson’s recovery from an F-2 tornado that struck on Feb. 29. The damage was contained to parts of W. 76 Country Boulevard (the Strip) and the convention center area. The Strip and Branson Landing are open, as are Historic Downtown Branson shops, most of the 50 theaters, and 200 hotels.

To visit Branson, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.

Order free information about Missouri through the Free Travel Information Card, found online.

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