News for the Hospitality Executive
10 Reasons Why Australia Will Soon Get
Its First Hotel Indoor Waterpark
By Jeff Coy, ISHC, June 2009
Australia has no hotels with indoor waterparks. The closest thing is Sea World Resort on the Gold Coast with its own outdoor waterpark. But, it’s not the same.
An outdoor waterpark, even if it is connected to lodging, is not the same as a hotel with an indoor waterpark. And when Australian hotel/resort owners finally discover the difference that an indoor waterpark can make on the performance of their hotel, new development is going to take off.
What’s the big fuss about indoor waterparks attached to hotels?
An indoor waterpark is like an outdoor waterpark, except all the fun is packed into a cube which is attached to a hotel that is open 365 days a year, rain or shine. The first hotel indoor waterpark in the USA was accidently created in 1994 by Stan Anderson, owner of the Polynesian Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, a businessman who was trying to fill his hotel rooms on weekends. He installed some water gizmo in his indoor pool, and weekend occupancy skyrocketed. Within a year, two mega hotel waterpark resorts were constructed in the Dells. From this, Wisconsin Dells spawned 21 indoor waterpark resorts and became the waterpark capital of the world. Today, the US has more than 200 hotels with indoor waterparks that attract the family market. However, the US bank crisis has shut off the flow of money for new hotel construction.
Australia is ready for its first hotel indoor waterpark. Here’s why?
1. The worldwide recession is mildest in Australia. When you look at a world map of countries that are least affected by the global economic crisis, Australia takes the top spot followed by China with India and Singapore in equal third place. Data is based on the results of a business confidence survey in 24 nations commissioned by Servcorp.What’s Open & Operating in Australia?
Here’s a list of Australian waterparks. All are outdoor waterparks. Only the Sea World Resort on the Gold Coast provides lodging that is connected to its outdoor waterpark. There are no hotels with indoor waterparks in Australia, yet.
What’s in the Pipeline in Australia?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where will the first hotel indoor waterpark in Australia be located? Could be in a resort destination, such as the Gold Coast in Queensland. Could be inside a metro area, such as Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne. Could be within a 2 to 3-hour drive time from a major metro, such as the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. “Melbourne might be a great target market,” says John Smith, managing director of Horwath HTL, Australia Pty Ltd, a hotel consultancy with offices throughout Asia Pacific. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does hotel indoor waterpark growth in the US apply to Australia? The first hotel indoor waterparks in the US grew out of Wisconsin Dells near the 43-degree latitude, along with Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, where the winters are long and cold and outdoor summer attractions have a 100-day peak season. The concept was successful because families drove up to 200 miles on weekends during winter to check into a hotel with an indoor waterpark. The concept spread to the higher elevations to include ski resorts. Ski resorts in Kellogg, Idaho; Boyne Mountain, Michigan; Tannersville, Pennsylvania and McGaheysville, Virginia all have indoor waterparks. Gradually, hotel indoor waterparks spread to the Sunbelt of the US, including Kansas City, Branson, Galveston, Pigeon Forge, Dallas, Orlando and Phoenix.
How do the US cities compare with Australian cities? Hobart is equivalent to Wisconsin Dells in terms of latitude and temperatures. Sydney at 33-degrees latitude is similar to San Diego and Phoenix where summer and winter temperatures are nearly the same. Brisbane and the Gold Coast are similar to Orlando, Miami and Key West in the US. In fact, almost all new projects in the US are indoor-outdoor combinations using new high-tech structures and enclosures whereby outdoor waterparks are transformed into indoor waterparks and vice versa.
What kind of facility would it be? Could be all-new construction, upscale full-service resort with indoor waterpark, conference center, golf and adventure sporting facilities. Could be an “add a box” project where an indoor waterpark is constructed and attached to an existing hotel. Could be a conversion and expansion of an existing facility.
How much would it cost to build? Depends on size, quality and entertainment value. A 100-room economy hotel with 15,000 sf indoor waterpark might cost $14 million, excluding land. A 200-room midpriced hotel with 40,000 sf indoor waterpark could cost $37 million, excluding land. And a 400-room upscale resort-style hotel with an 80,000 sf indoor waterpark may reach $92 million to build, excluding land.
Who will likely build the first hotel indoor waterpark in Australia? Could be Julianne and Vincent Cusumano, the owners of JV PLAY of Sydney, a waterplay/amusement equipment supplier for hotels, parks and family entertainment centers throughout Australia. They have been studying the trends for these facilities over the last three years and recently announced their Great Reef Resort concept, which includes a 250-400-room hotel, indoor & outdoor waterparks and conference facilities to be built in western Sydney. JV PLAY already represents the world’s major waterpark equipment suppliers in Australia and is currently seeking investors, managing partners and lenders to carry out their plans. For more information about the project, go to www.jvplay.com.au/indoorwaterpark.
Could very well be one of the major players, such as Village Roadshow Limited. It is majority-owned by Village Roadshow Corp and run by John and Robert Kirby and Graham Burke. Under its division, Warner Village Theme Parks, VRL owns and operates major attractions in Sydney, Gold Coast Australia, Hawaii and Phoenix Arizona. John Menzies, CEO, Tim Fisher, COO and USA senior vp Robert White run the theme park division. Warner Village Theme Parks oversees the Sydney Attractions Group which consists of managing the Sydney Aquarium, Shark Dive Xtreme, Tower Observation Deck, Tower Skywalk, Wildlife World and Oceanworld in Manly. In addition, the company owns and operates Movie World, Australian Outback Spectacular & Paradise Country, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sea World Theme Park and Sea World Resort & Waterpark --- all located on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Being the first to build a hotel indoor waterpark in Australia would be easiest for Sea World Resort. General manager Ernst Pfister already has the hotel and the outdoor waterpark. All he needs to do is attach an indoor waterpark to his existing hotel.
Could be another major player like Macquarie Leisure Trust. Macquarie owns Dreamworld and WhiteWater World in Gold Coast, Queensland. Dreamworld is a theme park with 1.3 million visitors annually and WhiteWater World is an outdoor waterpark with 1.3 million visitors annually. The trust also owns marinas and 10 to 12 bowling centers. Macquarie Leisure Trust CEO is Greg Shaw and CFO is Richard Johnson. Macquarie is the largest player in raising capital in Australia and one of the largest players in the area of corporate mergers & acquisitions in Australia. Through its subsidiaries and funds, Macquarie is the world’s largest operator of private toll roads. It is invested in projects, such as airports, operating Sydney Airport and Bristol International Airport in the UK, for instance. In 2007, the bank, together with a number of private equity firms attempted to takeover Qantas. In 2008, Nicholas Moore became CEO.
Could be Six Flags Corporation, which is a partner in the Great Escape Resort & Waterpark across from its theme park in Lake George, New York or it could be Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which owns the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Could be Stella Hospitality Group of NSW which markets retreats, resorts and hotels under three brand names --- Peppers, Breakfree and Mantra. Or it could be Mirvac Hotels & Resorts, a NSW management company.
Could be the owner of a major ski resort, such as Perisher Blue, Thredbo or Smiggins, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney or the Snowy Mountains southwest of Sydney.
Could be the owner of an urban hotel that runs nearly empty on the weekends.
Who will be first?
Jeff Coy, ISHC, is president of JLC Hospitality Consulting of Phoenix-Cave Creek, Arizona. He is certified by the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and recognized as a leading authority on hotel waterpark resorts and adventure sports parks. Contact him at 480-488-3382 or email email@example.com or go to www.jeffcoy.com.
|Also See:||18 Predictions About the Future of Hotel Waterpark Resorts / Jeff Coy and Bill Haralson / January 2005|
|Emergence of Adventure Sports Resorts; 10 Trends Point the Way to Future Resort Development / Jeff Coy / July 2008|