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Two Omaha Hotels Set to Open Massive Water Parks
By Chet Mullin, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 13, 2007 - Splish, splash! There soon will be a party going on at two Omaha-area hotels.

CoCo Key Water Resort, with more than 60,000 square feet, is scheduled to open next month at the Holiday Convention Centre, 3321 S. 72nd St.

The former Days Inn Bellevue, 1811 Hillcrest Drive, has been renamed Great Adventure Water Resort. The 42,000-square-foot facility is expected to open the first week in November.

Meanwhile, the owners of what now is Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover St., decided to forgo a previously announced water park and focus instead on remodeling and upgrading the building, formerly the Regency Hotel.

The Holiday Convention Centre water park was developed by a partnership of Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver, which owns the hotel, and Wave Development of Milwaukee, said Troy Benavides, general manager of the hotel. The companies spent about $40 million to build the water park and remodel the 383 guest rooms, meeting-and-convention space and all the public areas.

Tom Schmidt, owner of Great Adventure, said his total investment -- including construction of the water park, adding 5,000 square feet of meeting space and remodeling the rooms -- will be about $24 million.

The renovations, upgrades and water parks are adding jobs at both hotels.

A spokeswoman for the Holiday Convention Centre said CoCo Key will add 175 to 200 workers, bringing the hotel's total employment to more than 400.

Schmidt put his workforce at about 100 people, with approximately 45 at the water park.

Benavides said Omaha will be the fifth location for a CoCo Key Water Resort. That number is expected to grow to 17 over the next 12 months, he said. The company also has recently built water parks in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mo., and Mt. Laurel, N.J.

Schmidt said the Bellevue Great Adventure is a prototype that he and PlayPower Inc. of Huntersville, N.C., and Associated Pools of Bismarck, N.D., hope to develop into a franchise operation or as a partnership with existing hotels. Two hotels, one in Arkansas and the other on the West Coast, are interested, Schmidt said.

The two hotels will offer daily admission to the water parks, as well as making them available to hotel guests.

At the Holiday Convention Centre, admission will be $20 per person Monday through Friday, $38 per person on Saturday and $28 on Sunday. For an overnight hotel stay, an introductory rate of $139 for up to four people will be available.

At Great Adventure, Schmidt said day rates will be $35 for adults and $25 for children, with a $10 discount if passes are purchased at No Frills supermarkets. The hotel rate will be $99 on weekdays and $129 on weekends.

Great Adventure's features include: 10 slides, a lazy river, a 30-person hot tub, an activity pool, a toddler area, a wave pool and a large play area, including a dumping bucket that can hold up to 5,000 gallons of water.

Among the features of CoCo Key, which has a Key West theme: Parrot's Perch Play structure, "an interactive adventure" with slides, water cannon, dumping bucket and zero-depth entry area for younger children; Coconut Grove Adventure River, a 321-foot tube ride; three 40-foot body and raft waterslides; whirlpools; Dip-In Theater, video entertainment shown on a ship's sail; and a pool area with water basketball.

Benavides said the area also has an arcade, a bar and grill, a coffee bar, an ice-cream shop and private rooms for parties or group events.

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To see more of the Omaha World-Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.omaha.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

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