|By Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 7, 2004 -A new water park will be opening in Grand Forks this month, but it's not the one you might be thinking of.
While Canad Inns' water park by the Alerus Center isn't expected to open for another year, Holiday Inn has been working on a smaller water park since early summer with the aim of opening it in time for the World Junior Hockey Championship.
The 7,000-square-foot indoor water park replaces Holiday Inn's pool in the atrium. Manager Deb Steding said it's part of the hotel's general renovation since new owners took over about two years ago.
Still, at roughly $1 million, the water park is by far the most pricey single item compared with $600,000 for other renovations.
Steding said the owners at Grand Forks-based United Management had wanted a water park since purchasing the property. They're following a general trend among hotels nationwide, she said, rather than reacting to Canad Inns.
Several Holiday Inns in South Dakota have water parks, and there's a major one in the Twin Cities.
The nearest water park currently is the $7 million, 40,000-square-foot park in the Seven Clans Casino. Canad Inns is building one the same size, with groundbreaking scheduled in February.
A new water park in Holiday Inn likely would give it a competitive edge in Grand Forks' hospitality industry, a reflection of the national trend. That explains why water parks have been so popular as a hotel amenity.
In fact, Holiday Inn's corporate overseers at InterContinental Hotels Group, appeared to have been overtaken by the trend, according to Steding. The Grand Forks Holiday Inn's water park, such as those at other Holiday Inns, she said, independently was developed with little guidance from the corporate parent.
InterContinental long has had a concept for hotel amenities called Holidome that included pools, miniature golf and other features, but no water park. It ended up getting so many requests for exemptions from franchise holders that it had to modify the Holidome concept.
Steding said youth sport participants and their family are the single biggest block of weekend customers for her hotel. The water park's various components, she said, were designed with such youth in mind.
The park will feature a 110-foot slide and water basketball courts, appealing to the 12-to-16 age group. For those younger, there's a "water activity island" with two mini-slides, water cannons, geysers and a 250-gallon tipping bucket.
A snack bar overlooking the park will allow parents to supervise their children. They also can use a 20-person jetted spa as well.
Steding said the water park will be for registered users only, a policy common to all Holiday Inns.
Canad Inns' water park will be open to the public.
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