Sometime soon -- possibly immediately after Labor Day Weekend -- Dave and Geniece Tyler will close the doors on 35 memorable years as owners of The Golden Door.
Family resorts at the Lake of the Ozarks exude an innate charm that can't be matched. They're a slice of not only Americana but also of the mom and pop businesses upon which this lake was built.
Over time, many have succumbed to massive condo complexes; others, like The Golden Door resort in Osage Beach, have given way to other types of commercial development typical of an evolving resort community.
Sometime soon -- possibly immediately after Labor Day Weekend -- Dave and Geniece Tyler will close the doors on 35 memorable years as owners of The Golden Door. Their family friendly, even pet friendly, resort on Osage Beach Parkway will be leveled to make room for Osage Beach Commons, a retail venture led by the Staenberg Group of St. Louis.
The Tax Increment Financing project made its way through a myriad of legal hoops including TIF hearings and agendas with the city of Osage Beach over the last several months.
It will be a bittersweet moment for sure for Dave and Geniece who raised their own children at the resort and watched as generations of other families came and went.
Life-long friends have been made as an untold number of guests enjoyed what Dave refers to as the "backyard" of the resort, a huge playground that offered sanctuary from the rigors of the outside world.
"The courtyard is the jewel of this place," Dave said.
It's not that the Tylers wanted to see their property turned into asphalt, steel, concrete and glass. It's been for sale for several years, but as they neared retirement and wanted to visit their grandson, they couldn't find anyone to assume the endeavors of an aging, hands-on business that requires attention 24/7.
Their one daughter, Lindsey, and two sons, Chad and Jaret, have moved on to their own careers with no interest in taking over the motel.
"This has been more than just another place to lay your head for our guests," Geniece explained. "It's been a gathering place for friends and families. One of the hardest things in this is that as people call to make reservations for next year, we have to tell them we won't be here. They're happy for us, but sad that we're not going to be here. We've built many friendships."
Dave and Geniece live where they work. Their modest home is in the back of the main office building, only a few feet from the front counter. It's what they've known since giving up teaching in the Kansas City area for a different lifestyle -- one that has been hard work but one that has been rewarding on so many levels.
They bought The Golden Door in 1982 from a group of investors through a local real estate agent after deciding they wanted to raise their family in a smaller community. The Tylers learned from Scottish Inn owners Terry and Lois Deffenbaugh, as well as many other resort owners, that the resort was for sale so they took a leap of faith.
For Geniece -- a native of Eldon -- it was like coming home. The lake was a playground for her and her high school friends back in the day. After their purchase, Dave took an open special education position at Camdenton where he worked for 27 years before retiring a couple of years ago.
Any special memories for the Tylers?
The families. The friendships. The loyal staff.
"There are lots of little remembrances," Geniece recalled.
She loaned a slip to a bride who had forgotten hers; the Tyler family hosted Easter for years; families playing various sports in the courtyard; their children looking forward to families returning every year; kids playing Pac Man, or ping pong or other games in the game room.
The memories are wholesome and simple, much like the Tylers' lives as caretakers of the iconic motel.
"People brought us vegetables from their gardens like sweet corn from Iowa," Geniece recalled. "We've known so many people, we've shared so many memories. The closeness is hard to explain."
Anyone famous ever stay at The Golden Door?
Pop-country singer Barbara Mandrell, before she became a household name, once appeared at a benefit at Chet's Restaurant across the street from the resort and stayed at The Golden Door long before the Tylers were around.
The motel's slogan since it first opened has been "Your Golden Door to a Wonderful Vacation." In the 1960s, King's Sundries & Liquor and Quick Shop Market sat directly across the highway, which then was little more than a two-lane road through the community.
The late Gladys Sears built The Golden Door in 1964 because she felt there needed to be a motel on the highway. Her vision transcended decades as the motel expanded to a 37-unit motel now in the heart of the Osage Beach business district, and a stone's throw from one of the busiest intersections on Osage Beach Parkway.
It has been a gem nestled in the jungle of free enterprise, but only the memories will carry on as construction crews are expected to begin the transformation before the end of the year. Officially, the developers are to take possession Aug. 30, but Geniece insisted on allowing The Golden Door to remain open for old customers and new through the Labor Day Weekend.
She and Dave will have about a month after closing to clear their personal belongings from what has been their home for more than three decades. Geniece and Dave will remain in the lake area and have a pending contract on a home here.
Their children are encouraging them to get away for awhile as the new owners raze the property.
"We're proud of our history," Dave offered. "The Golden Door is a time capsule in a sense."
Geniece agreed: "It's the people and the area that make this place."