|By Gretta Nemcek Stanclift, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 7, 2005 - QUEENSBURY -- Next winter, visitors to the new hotel at the Great Escape can trade in their snow boards for boogie boards.
The Great Escape hopes to become a year-round attraction once people get wind of the new hotel's indoor water park.
The full-service water park will feature a flow rider, a surfable wave-making machine that can be used for boogie boarding.
"We see it as another attraction, another reason to come to the Adirondacks in the winter time," said John Collins, the general manager of the Great Escape.
The hotel also will boast a lazy river, where guests will float around on inner tubes, a play structure similar to Paul Bunyan's Bucket Brigade at the amusement park, water slides that begin and end in the building but travel outside of the hotel as well, a kiddie water play area, a spa, food court, locker room, indoor arcade, upstairs lounge and a 300-person banquet facility.
And when occupancy falls below 50 percent, Collins said, locals can use the water park for school groups or birthday parties.
The only other Six Flags park with its own hotel is the Lodge on the Lake at Darien Lake with 160 family-sized rooms and two suites that sleep up to six people. But that hotel is seasonal.
The Great Escape's $40 million hotel will contain 180 family suites and 20 two-room king suites and will be open year-round.
"It's a great package for our area," said Jennifer Mance, the park's director of marketing.
The Adirondack Coach House restaurant, which sits directly south of the property on Route 9, will attach to the facility and will serve as the hotel's restaurant.
A bridge will be constructed over Route 9 to connect the parking lots with the entrance of the park. Right now, construction is being done on the parking lots to raise the level in anticipation of the bridge, Collins said. If all goes as scheduled, the bridge should be ready for use by the time the hotel is finished in late 2005, early 2006.
Once the pedestrian bridge is complete, the two traffic lights in front of the park will be moved, one to Glen Lake Road and the other to Round Pond Road. The park needs to relocate some utilities in order to make all this happen, but barring any delays, the bridge should go in on time, Collins said.
"Looks like everything's coming into place," he said.
The Great Escape is planning to announce the name of the hotel in March or April of this year, Mance said.
But even sooner than that, Feb. 24 to be exact, the Great Escape will announce the name of its new themed area, currently known as Coco Loco-Jungle Land. Park officials are planning to develop the area to include nine new kiddie rides. The renovations to the park area will force the repositioning of some of the nursery themed attractions, such as the old schoolhouse that sits at the entrance of the Coco Loco-Jungle Land area. It will be turned into a ranger station.
Collins said the park over the years has been able to increase the number of big attractions geared toward teens but also needs to offer a great area of family rides. It will be a park within a park, he said.
"Storytown was built around the families and families with kids," he pointed out.
The new family park is expected to be ready when the park opens for the season in mid-May.
The last two weeks of bitter cold weather has slowed construction on the hotel, Collins said, "but you expect that when you're building in the wintertime."
Locals driving by can probably see some steel framing going up on the north wing of the hotel as the foundations are being poured for the rest of it. When it's finished, the Adirondack look with wood siding, a stone base and green architectural shingles will blend in with the evergreen mountains surrounding the area.
Collins hopes the hotel will offer visitors -- even those not particularly fond of winter -- a reason to visit the Lake George area when it's covered in snow. The ceiling of the hotel will be built with special windows allowing enough sunlight in that someone could even get a suntan while inside the building.
"Spend a day on the slopes," Collins said, "and a night on the beach."
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