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Houseboat Rentals Provide a Memorable Vacation in Arkansas


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A rented houseboat on Lake Ouachita.
A rented houseboat on Lake Ouachita.
    Houseboats provide solitude
Houseboats provide solitude
       
 

   
       
 

   
June 25, 2002


Houseboat Rentals Provide
A Memorable Vacation In Arkansas

*****
By Kerry Kraus, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

They have all the comforts of home -- and then some. They offer luxury travel with a capital "L." They are houseboats, one of the hot vacationing trends in The Natural State.

It's easy to understand why houseboating has become so popular among Arkansas vacationers. They provide solitude seekers a chance to truly get away from it all in some of the state's most scenic settings. A waterfront view is guaranteed, as is the opportunity for a variety of activities. From fishing, swimming, and deck-top grilling to wildlife watching, stargazing and simply spending quality time with friends and family, visitors can do about as much -- or little -- as desired. For the same reasons, houseboats are also becoming popular for family reunions, retreats and meetings.

These floating "homes away from homes" include everything a person needs for a memorable experience. Most have fully equipped kitchens, full bathrooms, washers and dryers, and televisions. Varying amenities include upper-deck hot tubs, compact disc players, satellite televisions, VCRs, central heat and air, wet bars and waterslides off the top deck. As the niceties vary, so do the prices, which are based on number of people and length of stay. Rentals run from one-day (prices not quoted below) and three-day trips, to weeklong trips. Prices quoted in this article cover a range from three-day to weeklong rentals and are subject to change without notice.

Five Arkansas lakes have facilities that rent houseboats. The boats come in various sizes, ranging from a 40-foot, six-person sleeper, to an 86-footer that sleeps 14. The following is a lake-by-lake description of what's available.

Lake Ouachita

Since Lake Ouachita is the largest lake located entirely within Arkansas (40,100 surface acres), it's no wonder that it's the only lake to have more than one houseboat outfitter. Along its shore, visitors can pick from Crystal Springs Resort, Dreamchaser Houseboat Odysseys and Hill's Lake Escape.

At Crystal Springs Resort in Royal, the new 62-foot Monterrey has four queen-size beds plus a sleeper sofa and one and a half baths. The fully furnished kitchen includes a microwave, toaster, blender, coffee maker and clothes dryer. A 10-speaker sound system is wired throughout the boat, which also has a television with VCR. Outside features include a gas grill, six-person hot tub, water slide, large ice chest and patio furniture. Prices range from $1,399 to $4,399. Call (501) 991-3361, or visit crystalspringsresort.com.

At Dreamchaser Houseboats, located at Mountain Harbor Resort near Mount Ida, boats range in size from 53 to 70 feet in length. The Islander, the smallest, has four bedrooms, one full bath and sleeps up to 10 people. Next in line is the 66-foot Odyssey, which has five queen bedrooms, one and a half baths, and sleeps up to 12. Another 66-footer, the Navigator, has five queen bedrooms, two full baths, a hot tub, and sleeps 12. The Executive, at 68 feet by 20 feet, has six queen bedrooms, two full baths and a hot tub. It sleeps 14 people. At 70 feet, the Admiral's Choice is the largest of the fleet. It can sleep 14 people in six queen bedrooms. It also has two full baths and a hot tub.

All of Dreamchaser's boats have fully equipped galley kitchens with refrigerators, ranges, microwaves, dishwashers and utensils. Other amenities include televisions with VCRs and stereo systems. Outdoors, all have gas grills, ice chests, patio furniture, hot tubs and slides. Prices range from $995 to $4,395. In Arkansas, call (870) 867-3480. Out of state, call toll-free 1-877-867-3480, or visit www.bigboats.net.

Boats at Hill's Lake Escape run the gamut from 45 feet in length to a whopping 83-footer. Located next to Brady Mountain Resort at Royal, the operator offers nine boats for rent.

Leading off is a 45-foot, two-bedroom vessel that can sleep six and has one full bath. Next in line are two 53-foot boats that sleep up to 10. Both have four bedrooms and one and a half baths, while one has a hot tub and slide. The first of three 66-foot boats has six bedrooms, sleeps 14 and has a hot tub and slide. The second has four bedrooms and sleeps 10. It features one and a half baths, a large living room, a hot tub and a slide. The third 66-foot boat boasts amenities such as a satellite dish, hot tub, slide, large living room, and washer and dryer. In this boat are four bedrooms with queen beds, plus a queen sofa sleeper, and one and a half baths. It sleeps 10.

Hill's Lake also offers two 53-footers. The first has two bedrooms and sleeps six. It includes a very large kitchen, a hot tub and slide. The second sleeps 10 and has four bedrooms and one and a half baths. It also boasts a hot tub and slide. Last but certainly not least, is the new 83 by 16-foot houseboat. The long list of comforts include a wet bar on the sundeck, a large living room, a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, an ice maker, a hot tub and a slide. The behemoth features two full baths and six bedrooms. It sleeps 14.

Satellite television is available for all boats at an extra charge. Linens are not provided. Prices range from $599 to $6,299. Call (501) 760-2659, or visit www.hillslake.com.

New to the lake is Almost Home Houseboat Rentals on Lake Ouachita, based at North Shores Resort & Marina. Almost Home features 75-foot cruisers that sleep 14. Amenities include queen beds in the six bedrooms, queen sleeper sofa, two full baths, a fully furnished galley kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave, icemaker, dishwasher, trash compactor, Holland barbecue grill, color television, four-to-six person hot tub, waterslide, washer and dryer and large living area. Optional satellite television and linens packages are available.

Price for weekly rental during the peak period of May 23rd through August 18th and all holidays (Monday to Monday or Friday to Friday) is $4,599. Price for weekend usage (Friday to Monday) is $2,599 and mid-week price (Monday-Friday) is $2,899. Special prices are offered during the off-season, spring and fall. For more information or to make reservations, call 1-877-256-6785 or e-mail almosthomeboats@comcast.net. Detailed information can be found on their web site: www.almosthomehouseboats.com.

DeGray Lake

Hill's Lake Escape also has a facility on DeGray Lake near Arkadelphia. The DeGray location has two 53-foot vessels and a 66-footer, all of which offer similar features as those at Hill's Lake on Ouachita. Special to DeGray is a 48-foot, two-bedroom boat that sleeps six. It features a hot tub, a slide and a full bath.

Bull Shoals and Norfork

Located in Arkansas's Ozarks, the twin lakes provide beautiful backgrounds for houseboating. On Norfork, 101 Boat Dock has four models to choose from, and they range in size from a 40-footer to a 56-foot craft. The 40-foot vessel sleeps six and has double bunk beds, a double sleeper sofa and a dinette sleeper. The 44-foot boat sleeps 10 and has a private stateroom, a penthouse sleeper and a dinette which seats 12 and converts to a double bed. Provisions on the 47-foot boat, which sleeps 10, include dishes and kitchen utensils. Largest of the fleet is a 56-footer that sleeps 10. It features four queen bedrooms and dishes and kitchen utensils. All of the vessels at 101 Boat Dock come equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, gas grills, stereos, slides, patio furniture, and bed and bath linens. All but the 40-footer have televisions. Prices range from $550 to $1,400. Call (870) 467-5252, or visit www.101boatdock.com.

Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock on Bull Shoals has three houseboats to choose from -- a 40-foot and two 50-foot boats. The 40-footer sleeps 10 and has one full bath. It also includes a charcoal grill, stereo, refrigerator and stove. Of the two larger boats, visitors can choose from either the Bunk Bed Boat that sleeps 14 in five double beds and four single beds or the Wet Bar Boat that sleeps 10 in five double beds. Both have microwave ovens, televisions, VCRs, stereos, refrigerators, stoves and gas grills. Dishes and all cooking utensils are provided but linens are not. Prices range from $395 to $1,475. Call (870) 445-4424 or (870) 445-4166, or visit www.bullshoals.com/boatdock.

Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake, with its scenic bluff-lined shores, is a reservoir popular among boaters. Lacey's Narrows Marina offers two sizes of houseboats -- a 65-footer and a 75-footer. The bigger of the two has six bedrooms and two full baths. Other niceties provided are linens and towels, a grill, a clothes dryer, and a full galley kitchen. A microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, stovetop and oven furnish the kitchen, while a television, VCR, and stereo provide entertainment opportunities. Outdoors is a large hot tub, slide and wet bar that contains a refrigerator and sink. The 65-foot boat has four bedrooms and two full baths, and its amenities are identical to the 75-foot boat, except there is no hot tub. Prices range from $1,995 to $2,995. Call toll-free 1-800-401-0440, or visit www.laceymarina.com.

All of the houseboat operators mentioned above provide onboard safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard. Those interested in renting a houseboat should call early; as most of the boats are booked many months in advance. Each business offers different packages and specials, and each provides varying amenities. For example: some include linens, while some don't; some are air-conditioned, some aren't; and some provide dishes and cooking utensils, some don't. Be sure to research all boats thoroughly before visiting.

The business owners also concur that even inexperienced individuals can operate a houseboat. Each operator provides detailed, hands-on instructions.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM
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