Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Smith Mountain Lake Lodging Guide

You’ve made the decision, marked the calendar and started dreaming about all the fun that awaits during your vacation at Smith Mountain Lake this year. The next order of business is finding a place to stay.

Perhaps you and your mate are looking for a quiet spot for some romantic R&R. Or maybe close proximity to hot spots such as Bridgewater Plaza is the priority for a family vacation. Do you need a dock? Plan to bring your pet?
If you’re having a tough time determining which accommodation option fits the bill, you’ve come to the right place. Smith Mountain Laker Magazine has again compiled its annual Lodging Guide and offers the following suggestions to help you plan your SML getaway. For a complete list of lodging options with contact information, rates, pet policies, channel marker locations and more, turn to Page 63.

Bed-and-Breakfast Inns
Smith Mountain Lake’s two B&Bs each feature an atmosphere that’s intimate and homey. Both properties offer impressive views, dock privileges, restful seclusion and welcoming proprietors. Go the bed-and-breakfast route for a romantic getaway or that home-away-from-home vacation.

A walk on the wild side is the accommodation choice of many vacationers, and Smith Mountain Lake has numerous locations for it. Campgrounds here offer a wide range when it comes to amenities, seclusion, lake access and views, but each is sure to provide a rustic, back-to-nature experience. Whether you prefer a tent or RV, SML’s campgrounds and RV parks offer easy access to outdoorsy activities,  including water sports, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking and canoeing.

The hotel and motel scene at SML and in the surrounding area offers a variety of choices, with perks that depend on location. Fishermen and water sport enthusiasts may want to consider hotels and motels in the heart of the lake area – including Lake Inn Motel, Halesford Harbour Inn, Gills Creek Marina and Westlake Waterfront Inn – that provide easy access to the water and ample parking for boats and trailers.

“For fishermen, we’re in the bullseye about 10 months out of the year,” said Ron Webb, who has owned and managed Westlake Waterfront Inn in Hardy the past nine years. “Surrounding the point we’re on is the largest concentration of striped bass. [And] this location offers very convenient access to the hub of the lake.”

When you rent a houseboat, you never have to leave the water. Two companies – Adventures on Houseboats, on the north side of the lake at Hardy Ford Bridge, and Parrot Cove Boat Rentals & Sales, centrally located at Hales Ford Bridge – keep visitors afloat at Smith Mountain Lake.

“Folks rent our houseboats for many different reasons,” said David Oliver, who has operated Parrot Cove since 1996. “The majority are looking for a unique family vacation. Some are looking for a special way to celebrate a special event. Our houseboats have hosted many weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and family reunions. With a houseboat, you have the freedom to cruise the lake at your leisure and whenever you feel like settling in, just find a cove and drop anchor – and with all the comforts of home at your disposal.”

Resorts and Conference Centers
While all can accommodate families and small groups, resort and conference centers at Smith Mountain Lake are ideal for businesses and larger groups that need easy access to amenities for conferences, meetings, weddings, reunions and other events. A spacious conference center is located in each of the three counties bordering the lake, where guests can be treated to high-quality lodging along with meeting facilities and technology to ensure productivity. Many lake visitors choose a resort for a more metropolitan stay complete with suites, on-site dining, pools and fitness centers.
Vacation Rentals
Vacation rentals are an increasingly popular choice for lodging at Smith Mountain Lake. Singles, couples and families can secure a lake home or condo, many of which are pet friendly, by dealing directly with the homeowner or with the help of a vacation rental company. Coveside Cottages owner Candace LaPerna said renting a cottage or home provides vacationers with flexibility.

“When you go to a hotel room or conference center, you’re often limited to [what’s at] that facility as opposed to having a full kitchen and [outdoor] grill.  Everything is available that a house would have. It’s like going away from home and being home. The affordability is a big benefit. You can save money by making your own meals,” said LaPerna.

Turning a new leaf at LoveStone
When it comes to the daily demands of owning a bed-and-breakfast, Dawn Spencer and Tom Zirkelbach have lost that lovin’ feeling.

    The couple, who recently celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary, have spent the past 10 years operating LoveStone Inn as a B&B at Smith Mountain Lake. This year, they will convert the five-bedroom waterfront property into a vacation rental home and venue for special events.

    “Converting it to a vacation rental home is going to give us more time to travel,” Spencer said. “It won’t be as confining as a bed-and-breakfast. The B&B was 24/7.”

    Spencer and Zirkelbach live in a cottage adjacent to the main house and will continue to serve as caretakers of the property, which encompasses six acres near SML State Park in Bedford County. Spencer also will offer her culinary skills to LoveStone renters.

    “I’m available to prepare meals – like a personal chef, any meal they want – and that is contracted separately,” she said.

    The couple also will concentrate on booking the facility for special events accommodating up to 200 guests, including weddings, rehearsal dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, showers and holiday parties. Spencer offers expertise as a consultant in human resources management to business professionals who wish to schedule meetings or retreats at LoveStone.

    Spencer said she and Zirkelbach will miss certain aspects of being bed-and-breakfast owners, but are looking forward to the next chapter in their lives.

    “The 10 years were fabulous,” she said. “We met hundreds of wonderful people, so it’s kind of bittersweet. But this gives us much more flexibility.”