Holiday Inn Club Vacations Holiday Hills Resort is in the amazing Branson area. I have been to Branson now half a dozen times, and it has quickly become one of my favorite locations to travel to. I am ready to go back.
Video by John Gilkey
Day One Travel & Arrival Holiday Inn Club Vacations Holiday Hills Resort
When you travel to Branson from either coast, you will start your journey like me with a flight in. The airport in Branson is close to the main area, and close to this resort.
In this resort’s case, the main airport is only 22 minutes from the resort. This is a smaller airport, but commercial flights do arrive directly on site, and there are many car rental agencies represented at the airport. This makes travel to the airport and area easy. Also, due to the high volume of fliers and flights, both the flights into Branson and the car rental costs are lower than in many markets.
As a frequent traveler, I always find it interesting in travel that demand lowers prices with scale. This is because the demand for services like flight and car rentals creates a market. Then the more competitors move in to provide services to a market, the lower the prices become over time.
In travel, this process is the opposite of what we think of with supply and demand in general. Most of the time when I think of supply and demand, I think of the toilet paper shortages with Covid, or with the price of water just before or after a hurricane. This is where we see short-term demand surge and short-term demand increase prices.
Another good example of this is the Sony PS5 game system. These are so popular and hard to find that people are buying them and turning those around and selling them at a 200% markup or more. Yet again, this is short-term surge pricing. The only reason this has lasted so long is that the supplies they need to make the PS5 consoles are in short supply now.
I am sharing all of this to get you thinking differently about travel bargains and pricing. When you go to a popular location like Branson, where there are many providers of services, the prices come down and are lower over time. Now, just like every other market, things tend to go up with inflation. That is a reality, but vacation destinations like Branson, Myrtle Beach, or Orlando often trend lower in cost compared to other areas of the country.
It is all a part of what makes this the best time to travel in over a decade.
I grabbed my affordable rental car and headed to the resort. When I arrived, the staff helped me check in, find my accommodations, and get sorted quickly. Once settled, I was ready for some early dinner.
Branson is a food lovers’ town. There are more restaurants and options here than in most travel destinations. I have become a fan of several spots. Some of the places I like to go to in Branson are chain restaurants. This might shock my regular reader, but these are locations I do not have near my home, and they offer great food at affordable prices.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor Pools
- Business Center
- On-Site Restaurants
- Fitness Center
- Concierge Services
Tonight, I was ready to go back to one of those for dinner. I headed to Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen for my dinner. This small chain offers great food shared by family style, and the menu feels more like home-cooked food than normal restaurant options. This small chain has 6 locations 1 is in Branson and another in Myrtle Beach, which are two of my favorite vacation locations. You will find interesting overlaps between both towns. I will highlight a few for you as I share details of my trip with you.
This restaurant offers a menu that allows you to choose how many options you want for your meal. Then you choose which options you want from the available prepared items.
Enjoy Unlimited Refills … Happy Eating, Y’all! (To-go boxes are not available)
“The Albany” 24.99 per person Choose 2 Down Home Dishes and 4 of Paula’s Famous Sides for the table.
“The Savannah” is $26.99 per person Choose 3 Down Home Dishes and 4 of Paula’s Famous Sides for the table. “
The Georgia” 28.99 per person Choose 4 Down Home Dishes and 4 of Paula’s Famous Sides for the table.”
Now, this is the current pricing as I write this blog. Check the website for current pricing when you are traveling.
For families, this might look costly to some, but they do offer children’s pricing that is very reasonable, and that helps lower the family meal costs. Kids ages 3 – 5 4.99 Kids ages 6 – 10 11.99. Older children pay the adult pricing but as much as teenagers eat, we are lucky restaurants do not charge extra. I am chuckling to myself as I write that. Not only thinking about nieces and nephews but also myself all those years ago.
The down-home dishes are the main menu items and are described as this on the menu.
Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken Our specially seasoned, hand-breaded chicken, fried crisp and golden. “Some things in life can’t be improved upon!”
Beef Pot Roast Slow roasted ’til tender and full of flavor. Lovingly shredded, ladled over buttered white rice. “Comfort food at its finest!”
Chicken-Fried Pork Chop Boneless tender pork coated with seasoned flour, then fried golden on the stovetop. Drizzled in the best gravy ever created by its own flavorful pan drippings.
Old Fashioned Southern Meatloaf Thick-sliced, sweet and tangy meatloaf covered in crispy tobacco onions. No wonder Paula’s recipe has a reputation all its own!
Spare Ribs Slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. “The perfect blend of sweet and spicy, Y’all!”
Chicken & Dumplings Tender pulled chicken and hand-rolled dumplings simmered in a savory chicken gravy. “It’s been a staple at my family table for as long as I can remember.”
Georgia Fried Catfish “We love our fish lightly fried with a flour and cornmeal coating, and you will, too!” Served with Paula’s zingy tartar sauce.
Roasted Chicken Mouthwatering, tender, slow-roasted chicken. Seasoned with Paula’s signature blend of savory spices.
I chose the 3 main dish item offers and the 4 sides. I have not shared yet that a friend is with me on this trip and she chose Albany. This meant between us we would have 5 entrees on the table and 4 sides.
For the sides you have many options Green Beans, Creamed Potatoes, Collard Greens, Fresh Candied Yams, Creamed Corn, Cole Slaw, Poppyseed Tossed Salad, Baked Mac and Cheese, Black-Eyed Peas, Broccoli Casserole, Tomato & Cucumber Salad, Buttered White Rice.
We enjoyed the Candied Yams, Baked Mac & Cheese, Black-Eyed Peas, and Creamed Potatoes.
With your meal you also get dessert and these are amazing. I had the banana pudding, and my friend had the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.
The meal left us feeling like we needed to waddle out the door. We were so full. I know I went into detail with the meal, but hey I like that restaurant chain and the unique family-style service.
Day Two Resort Morning & Branson Nights
Today I wanted us to start easy and just enjoy the morning at the resort. The resort provides a very nice covered indoor pool. It is huge. Feeling lazy and starting slow is not a bad thing. Often when traveling it means you enjoyed the day or night before.
Branson has a charm about it and a feeling that tends to make me have fun but not overdo it for some reason. Maybe it is not the area but my age, but I feel less motivated for trouble than I might be in Vegas or Atlantic City for example. Branson also feels more family-friendly than Sin City (Las Vegas) or even many beach travel spots, or ski destinations.
After a nice morning just swimming some, talking a lot, and generally spending some quality time, we wanted to shower, change and start the day even though it was already afternoon.
I rarely travel with a guest. Often my travel assignments are last minute, and it is hard to find someone who can drop everything and just travel. Also, in truth, I am a person who enjoys solo travel a great deal. When I do take someone with me, I enjoy spoiling them with events and adventures. The selfish reason for this is that I get a kick out of experiencing things through the eyes of others when they do something for the first time. So in very scenic areas, this might mean helicopter rides or sailing adventures. In Branson, it means great shows and live entertainment.
So this afternoon I have great seats and tickets for our first show that I booked ahead of time. One interesting travel outcome of the previous pandemic is that it is easier now to get reserved seats than ever before. Some locations only offer reserved seating now, as they have redesigned their venues. To me, that is a win and something that is one of the few positive outcomes.
The shows in Branson offer many country western themes, then there are more mainstream or variety-themed shows as well. One thing that is fun is the dinner shows. This is where you watch the show as you eat a nice meal and that can be a great option for couples. These tend to be a little harder for people with younger children because child energy just does not like to sit still for a few hours for a meal and a show. But you know your kids and it might be fine for them.
Now I enjoy country music and always have. One thing for me is that I tend to go through musical phases all the time. For 6 months I might listen to country music, and then for 6 months, I might get on a 50-60s rock in roll bender. Then my next year might be 70s music. I do not know why that is the case, it is what it is.
I had tickets for a variety show of sorts that was in the Dick Clark Theater it offered a number of professional impersonator performers which was fun. The Elvis guy was one of the better I had seen, and I was friends with a former Vegas Elvis in the 1980s who kind of snapped not in an aggressive way, but he was an interesting character that always stayed in character after a career challenge. He was an interesting guy and a perfect imitation. The overall show was fun, and upbeat, and demonstrated a ton of talent.
After the show, we headed for dinner. Since we had just enjoyed some music from the 50-the 60s, I thought it would be fun to eat at a 50s-themed dinner. We went to Mel’s Hard Luck Dinner, and it was great. They offer a traditional dinner menu, then tons of ice cream and dessert options.
Once we had filled ourselves to the brim, I thought we needed to have some more adult fun and listen to some music and have a drink or two. On the way back to the resort is a location called the Paddlewheel. This is a dockside restaurant that also has live music. While we were not ready for more food, a few drinks and some live music hit the spot. I always am careful when driving after any drinks. At my body weight these days, I can have several before my BAC moves much. But it still feels better to have a drink close to the resort, and have a short drive. This location is closed.
Day Three On The Water
Today I not only wanted to spend some time in town, but I also booked us a dinner cruise on the local paddlewheel boat. Not to be confused with the restaurant and live music spot from yesterday. The Showboat is a great option to get out and move on the water, enjoy live entertainment and dining all at the same time. More about that in a minute.
First things first. Today we wanted to see more of the town. My friend enjoys some of the same kinds of things I do, like museums and amusement parks. For fans of amusement parks, Silver Dollar City is a neat location to visit. The park is a smaller theme park than some, but it reminds me of Bush Gardens Williamsburg, just smaller and with a different theme or focus. Instead of traveling through a Europe trip, this theme park takes you back in time to the 1880s and the heartland of America. The theme is so unique it is refreshing. For all the faults of our past, there were also amazing things that happened, and amazing people that built our nation in its early days.
This theme park is very family-friendly. It offers many rides for younger guests and great things to ride and see together as a family. To the moms that are reading this, take a look at the Silver Dollar City website and the rides and attractions section. It will give you a good feeling of what is available at this theme park.
My friend and I spent a lovely day starting when the park opened until almost time to go on our dinner cruise. The cruise has two dining options, and they are priced differently. The Captain’s Club is a higher tiered dining experience, and also offers better seating for the meal, show, and early boarding that starts 1 hour prior to departure time.
This particular experience is likely best enjoyed by couples and if you can afford the $30 more per person, I would choose the Captain’s Club option for the better entrees on offer, and the better seating.
While onboard, you will enjoy a 3-course meal and a show, as well as travel on the local lake on the paddlewheel boat. The show is more of amusement or theme park level entertainment than some of the other shows in the area, but it was still a very fun time for myself and my guest. Now I live near the water and grew up on the water. Someone who is more landlocked may enjoy this experience even more than we did.
If you want to enjoy great food, shows, and theme parks, visit Branson. Just make sure you book this resort through Tzort to save.