|By Richard Metcalf, Albuquerque Journal,
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 15, 2006 - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Imagine barreling down a water slide, curving this way and that before landing with a splash in a pool.
Only it's December.
In 2007, that will be possible at a 23,000-square-foot indoor water park planned for what is now the Carlisle Hotel & Conference Center at Interstate 40 and Carlisle NE.
"These have become sensational regional draws," said Michael Gallegos, president of San Diego-based American Property Management Corp., owner of the 366-room hotel. "That's what we're aiming for."
Among the features of the indoor water park will be two water slides that begin at a 34-foot-high tower. One is a 275-foot body slide, and the other is a two-person slide that is 325 feet long. The tubes for both slides will extend outside the building, then re-enter it.
There will also be a wading pool with a multilevel play structure, including slides and water guns for younger children, said Jeffrey Nodorft of Sauk City, Wis.-based Ramaker & Associates Inc., which is designing the water features.
"It's a very active zone...a chutes-and-ladders discovery area for children to enjoy," Nodorft said.
The water park will have a capacity of 650 people.
It is the key element in an estimated $13 million remake of the Carlisle Hotel & Conference Center into the 314-room Radisson Resort & Waterpark, Gallegos said. The hotel formerly carried the Radisson brand name.
The hotel opened in 1971 as the Four Seasons Motor Inn and underwent two expansions later in the 1970s.
The water park will replace a 52-guest room building where the rooms are accessed directly from the parking lot.
"It's the only building with exterior entrances," Gallegos said. "Major hotel brands do not want exterior entrances."
Construction of the project is scheduled to get under way July 1 and take 12-14 months to complete.
The building, which will be 47 feet high at its tallest point, will have a Southwest-style exterior.
But the two different-colored slides, whose transparent tubes will be lighted up at night, will give the exterior a look that Gallegos described as "New Mexico meets South Beach."
A Las Vegas, N.M., native, Gallegos had headquartered American Property in Albuquerque for more than 10 years before moving to San Diego in 2000.
"This is our commitment to New Mexico and to Albuquerque: keep reinvesting and giving back," he said.
Gallegos' company is also planning a $6 million makeover of the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown. (More on that in Thursday's Business Outlook.) "We're working on water parks throughout the U.S.," Nodorft said. "It's something we're going to see more and more at hotels that have a family friendly atmosphere and underutilized capacity."
Albuquerque's only outdoor water park, The Beach, did not open for the 2005 season, and the site at Interstate 25 and Montano NE is expected to be redeveloped into another use.
The indoor park at what will become the Radisson Resort & Waterpark will transition from children-oriented in the daytime to "an aquatic night club for teenagers and young adults" at night, said Therese Marrero, hotel operations manager at American Property.
"We're installing a very expensive, high-tech audio and video system with a deejay booth," Gallegos said. "We'll have large plasma television screens."
The "lazy river" that meanders gently through the water park by day will turn into a quasi-whitewater rapid at night. There will also be a pool geared to teens and equipped with a basketball hoop and other features.
A mezzanine will house an alcohol-free pizza parlor, ice cream parlor, small movie theater and arcade with about 50 video games.
The hotel has 2.5 parking spaces for each room -- better than the industry standard of one space per room -- on the 11-acre site. As a result, Gallegos sees ample parking for the water park.
The $13 million project includes an exterior remodel and new xeriscaping of the entire hotel. The hotel underwent a $2.5 million interior remodel three years ago.
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