In the heart of fly over country my wife and I found a great resort in Iowa. To be honest, before we visited I had only heard of the this place through a hotel operator friend of mine.This is not a big name destination like Branson, Mo. or a National Park like Yellowstone. This is an Iowa state park built on the shores of Rathbun Lake.
Honey Creek Resort is surprisingly big with over 850 acres on the shores of Iowa’s second largest lake. Located in south central Iowa, Honey Creek Resort is an easy drive from several metropolitan areas. We live in the Twin Cities and left about 9am. We took the freeway to Des Moines and a side trip to Pella, IA to see a few hours of Tulip Time and still got to Honey Creek in time for dinner. It is only fair that I tell you that this is not the deep woods or pristine lakes with flowing waters. It is however a beautiful prairie setting that has been well preserved. The resort has been built in a way that the natural prairie setting is not spoiled. Honey Creek Resort has taken great care to be a family and eco-friendly destination.
The driveway into Honey Creek Resort is a concrete road which winds through the prairie. The first hint that there is any development is the golf course on your left. The Preserve is an 18 hole championship golf course beautifully designed to maintain the prairie feel as well as offer great views of the Rathbun Lake and the creeks that flow into it. This is a full service golf facility with GPS equipped golf carts and a full service clubhouse.
Across from the Preserve is the RV park, boat launch and a great playground for kids. There is even a basketball court.
After passing the clubhouse you drive through a small roundabout and off to your right you will soon see some of the cottages at Honey Creek Resort. There are 28 cottages available ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. We stayed in a two bedroom cottage. The cottages are well designed and offer pretty much every amenity you might ask for. One thing I really liked was the way the cottages were laid out in little neighborhoods so if you were with a group you could be close to each other yet away from the rest of the resort.
As you continue past the cottages you drive up over a small hill and the main lodge will be just ahead of you. It is a spectacular building with architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. The main lobby has a huge fireplace and towering ceilings with lots of windows to take advantage of the natural light. Off to one side of the lobby are the 105 lodge rooms and the Buccaneer Bay water park.
The water park features over 9000 square feet of water fun for the family. On the other side of the lobby is the Rathbun Lakeshore Grill and Lounge as well as the business center and meeting rooms.
The lodge rooms are beautiful and most have a great view of Rathbun Lake.
On the opposite side of the lobby is the Rathbun Lakeshore Grille and Lounge. In addition there are over 6500 sq feet of conference or event space in this part of the lodge with the Grand Ballroom capable of handling up to 300 guests.
We had the pleasure of being hosted at dinner by Andy Woodrick, the General Manager of Honey Creek Resort. We even got to chat with executive chef Bob Newell. Bob was a hoot and had to tell us all about how he tries to grow as much of his own herbs and vegetables in his “chefs garden” as he can. Andy is a hands on manager and a great host. He is very passionate about Honey Creek Resort. His enthusiasm is contagious. The staff at the resort couldn’t be nicer. This is the heartland of America and the people are genuinely friendly and accommodating. No question you could bring your family or a group here and be confident that they would be well cared for.
Honey Creek Resort has taken great care to be a family and eco-friendly destination. You may notice the windmill by the main lodge and the solar panels on several of the out structures. Each unit has easy to use recycling bins as well. What you won’t notice is the that the main lodge and cottages use geothermal heating and cooling provided by energy efficient heat pumps which are computer adjusted for maximum efficiency. The lodge has LEED Evironmental Certification and the Preserve Golf Course will soon achieve Audubon Certification.
As we spent the second day of our stay exploring the grounds it occurred to me what a great place Honey Creek Resort would be to hold a family reunion, wedding or corporate retreat. There are so many activities for all ages and abilities that there is truly something for everyone to do. With the well equipped cottages you can cook for yourself or if you just want to kick back after a full day of playing, you can walk over to the Rathbun Lakeshore Grill and let them cook for you. Unfortunately for us it was quite early in the Spring when we visited so the lakeside activities were not quite available. There is a beautiful marina and all kinds of rental boats and toys available if you did not bring your own.
Don’t forget to tell them Captain Dan sent you and be sure and say hi to Andy.