1320 Keithley Rd, Walnut Shade, MO 65771

Our Lodge Resort

We’re From here…. And this is our story. Bear Creek Lodge and Wine Co.

Every boxwood planted and rock stacked; every mulched path and rose bush planted has been by our hands. When we started, Bear Creek was nothing more than an 8 acre hay-field we had purchased to build our dream home. We had both grown up here in the Ozarks; I attended Branson High and Dennis Hollister High. We both grew up with many generations of family here in the Ozarks exploring the creek beds and running the hills and hollers of this region.

We had visited a few bed and breakfasts and bravely decided we could do it too. Bear Creek began 20 years ago as a bed and breakfast with one suite and one cabin. We began landscaping the water garden area for atmosphere and a fun project before we even had a building. We had a 1960’s (and not the cute or vintage kind) trailer parked at the job site at that time, because we couldn’t afford to rent a place in town. Dennis was vice president of a little bank downtown Branson and I was selling real estate. At night we stained, painted, stacked rock for the pond and then dined on bologna sandwiches most nights when we were finally too worn out at dark. Every inch of this property we have built with little or no money “brick by brick.” It’s been difficult, fun, scary and discouraging at times, but here we are. There was no plan and definitely no “rhyme nor reason,” we’ve just flown by the seat of our pants and tried to fill the needs of our guests for the last 20 years

A guest asked shortly after we finished building and began hosting guests, if she could pay to get married in the garden and it was a real “light bulb” moment for us and so began our wedding venue. Soon more cabins were added and a small chapel in the woods. Dennis soon retired to help me with the bed and breakfast. We enlisted the help of my daughter shortly after; and I promised my new grand-baby could come along with her each day if she would begin working for us. She agreed and so began the endless job of cleaning cabins, landscaping and answering the phone with a baby on your hip. We loved having our grandkids every day at the lodge. There were plenty of golf cart rides, rock throwing and fish feeding at the pond, along with snacks, snacks and more snacks, to keep them occupied. We were sad to see them off to preschool, but admittedly relieved when we could focus a bit more on expansion of the property and not carry snacks every minute of the day. LOL.

My daughter suggested we carry local beer and MO  wines for guests and events. We then converted a shed/dog kennel into a small tasting room (no I couldn’t make this up if I tried; only in the Ozarks does a shed/dog kennel get converted to a tasting room for wine). But it worked and it was quite charming and cozy and our guests loved it. She began doing private food and wine pairings for the b and b guests. This led to us wanting our own private label wines and that led to our son in law beginning to make our own wines on site. We slowly added a small food menu and now here we are today. He recently began making beer on site as well.

Soon after Dennis’s retirement from the bank, we began to notice forgetfulness on his part. He might forget that he had already taken out the trash or forget that he had already swept the floor. He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease shortly after. We were lucky that we had the b and b, because he could still stay with us all day, but would lead a less active role in the bed and breakfast as his disease progressed. He still enjoyed visiting with the guests, but slowly lost the real ability to interact with guests. As a family we all took turns and found a way through those years to keep him at the lodge, but when he began to have seizures and other medical issues his doctor informed us that he could no longer live without professional nursing care. I did my best to juggle his illness with our bed and breakfast and still do in many ways. He is now unable to recognize any of us and is unable to feed himself or talk in any way. Our guests from many years tell stories of his sense of humor at breakfast or his stories on the porch. We can’t imagine what he would think of this place now; how it’s grown and changed into something he would’ve loved.

In April of 2017 we suffered a fire. I awoke on property to the sound of fire engines roaring up the hill and was devastated to see our tasting room and open air chapel completely engulfed in flames. Luckily the fire department was able to get the fire out before it spread to the lodge and our current tasting room. When the smoke cleared and the fireman had left; we wiped our tears and began calling our brides and lodging guests to notify them of the fire. When we began to make the phone calls; we were shocked to hear so much encouragement and empathy from our guests. We literally had guests and brides crying with us by phone; not because it may affect their event or vacation, but because they knew us and our family well enough to know how much we love our property and how hard we work to make it a great escape and experience. So, we began rebuilding immediately and oddly enough our contractor’s daughter already had a wedding scheduled with us for the upcoming September, so his deadline became exactly that day. We sketched out the plans with him at Easter dinner on my daughters front porch and the rest is history.

A whole lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into this property by our family. We have literally had thanksgiving dinners in the tasting room because we had to check in guests, we’ve worked many 14hr days and sacrificed a whole lot to be able to provide our guests with a great atmosphere and experience. We are so happy you chose to visit us and our growing and ever- changing dream of a property. We have the best job in the world; we get to create something and then witness the joy it brings to others. Enjoy your stay with us at Bear Creek!

Bear Creek Cabin Resort
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