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The History of The Resort at Lake of the Ozarks

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Let’s start with the Lake. The Lake of the Ozarks is a reservoir created by the construction of the Bagnell Dam, beginning in 1929 and completed in 1931. The 2,543-foot dam was built by the Union Electric Company to provide Hydroelectric power to their customers. At the time of construction, the lake was the largest man-made lake in the United States. The surface area covers 54,000 acres and the shoreline at full pool is over 1,400 miles long. That’s longer than the coast of Florida or California. The beautiful and vast Lake of the Ozarks Quickly brought tourists to the area and continues to bring millions of visitors each year. 

Our story began over fifty-five years ago. The idea of the Resort at Lake of the Ozarks was born out of necessity and came to fruition in 1965 as a Holiday Inn. The story goes that a gentleman and Navy Sailor named Clarence Ziegler (CC or Zig) brought his family to the lake for a family vacation but couldn’t find any place to stay. There were so many tourists at the lake and all hotels were full, so they were forced to stay in a nearby city. That is when the idea of a new hotel on the lake was born. CC Ziegler opened the first hotel on the property in 1965 under the name Holiday Inn. CC Ziegler was also the original owner of Bentley’s restaurant. 

A fun fact, the entire cast of the Beverly Hillbillies attended the grand opening party! 

The hotel expanded and changed throughout the years with new construction and renovations. In 1999 CC Ziegler sold the property to Cecil Van Tuyl, who also owned Port Arrowhead Marina, located directly adjacent to the Hotel (now Marine Max Marina). In 2004 The Holiday Inn was rebranded as The Resort at Port Arrowhead, and later the Lodge at Port Arrowhead. The property changed hands and management companies a couple of times until it was purchased in 2016 by Jared Johnson and Mike Pagliai. Jared and Mike razed three of the buildings and began updating the remaining three buildings. 

In April 2021 Mike and Jared sold the restaurant and convention center part of the resort property to Developer and Entrepreneur, Merlyn Vandervort and his wife Dawn. The restaurant was in dire need of renovations and the new owners wasted no time or expense on completely redesigning and rebuilding the entire restaurant & convention center complex into what it is today, The Encore Lakeside Grill and Sky Bar The new restaurant opened in November 2021 and is truly one of the finest restaurants and entertainment complexes in the country. The rooftop Sky Bar Amphitheater can accommodate over a thousand guests and has hosted numerous concerts featuring legendary recording artists such as Chris Cagle, Mitchel Tenpenny, Lainey Wilson, The Little River Band, Little Texas, Drake White, Brandon Lay, Elle King, and the Bellamy Brothers to name a few. The swimming pool at The Encore is like something you would expect to see at some of the finest resorts in the country. The dining is some of the finest cuisine you will find at the lake, in a comfortable casual atmosphere. 

In March 2022, Merlyn acquired the entire hotel & resort property and rebranded it as The Resort at Lake of the Ozarks. The hotel now offers 145 rooms, all updated including renovations to the public spaces. The convention & banquet center can accommodate up to 500 guests and is perfect for corporate events, class reunions or wedding receptions. 

The Resort at Lake of the Ozarks, and The Encore Lakeside Grill and Sky Bar: No other dining, lodging or entertainment experience comes close!

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