If you can't decide if your next vacation should be planned around nature, adventure or pampering, consider Stonewater Cove on Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri.
Nestled in the Mark Twain National Forest on the lake's quiet, largely unspoiled James River Arm, the 25-room, 473-acre luxury resort — with fine dining, a spa and optional excursions — offers all of the above.
Said chief developer Jim Bond, “Some people just come to eat and hang out by the pool,” which features waterfalls, a grotto, hot tub and fluffy towels on circled lounge chairs much like an upscale beach hotel.
“Others are out here all day,” said Bond, while leading an ATV excursion.
Optional guided activities include a popular zip line experience, ATV rides or tours through the forest, and boat outings to water ski, wakeboard — or merely breathe in the picturesque shoreline for which this writer happily opted.
Guests also are encouraged to strike out on their own on foot or in canoes or kayaks, which I also relished. The water is largely smooth and calm, and you don't have to paddle far to reach shoreline cliffs from which you can jump or dive. I was more than content to take in the overhead view of Stonewater's majestic wavy red cedar and stone lodge and spy the occasional heron or bald eagle fishing for lunch.
Stonewater also offers dock fishing; Table Rock is world-renowned for bass fishing. Some fisherman hook catfish.
All of Stonewater's unguided activities, along with breakfast, lunch, dinner and nonalcoholic beverages, are included in the rates — which start at $535 a night for two people. Optional activities range from $115 for the zip line experience and $125 for an ATV drive to $145 per person for the first two guests for a water sports excursion and $165 for a one-hour massage. Taxes and a 15 percent service charge are added on, because the resort is a no-tipping environment.
James Bond, general manager, owner and Jim Bond's son, said his family based the all-inclusive model, and the resort's many amenities, on the best of their family vacations — from cruises to dude ranches.
His mother, Ruth Bond, painstakingly designed the generous rooms and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with hardwood floors, polished driftwood furniture, cedar trimmed coffered ceilings and art, light fixtures and accessories that reflect the natural beauty and lusciously landscaped grounds outside their heavy oak doors.