News for the Hospitality Executive
23 Hotel Waterparks Expect to Open in 2011
10 Coco Key Waterparks Bought at Auction for Bargain Prices
By Jeff Coy & Amanda McDaniel
July, 2011 --- American families with young kids and resort developers with cash both delight in the fact that 16 hotel waterpark resorts have already opened for summer peak season, while 7 more are scheduled for completion by year end. Despite a recession and lack of construction loans, 23 hotel waterpark resorts are expected to open in 2011. At the height of growth, 34 opened in 2007, then 24 in 2008, 29 in 2009 and 19 in 2010.
Are hotel waterpark resorts recession-proof? No, but they are recession-resistant as many families recreate closer to home and spend less money. Are all hotel waterparks winners? No, but most out-perform the hotel industry’s average occupancy. Ten hotels with Coco Key Waterparks were bought at auction last February by savvy buyers for bargain prices that were about 10% to 15% of each hotel’s pre-recession value. Here’s what is happening in 2011:
What Opened in the First Half of 2011?
Aqua Duck on the Disney Dream cruise ship opened in January. The 2,500 passenger Disney Dream introduced a giant 765-foot long, 4-deck high water coaster called the Aqua Duck. Riders board a 2-person raft and are propelled by high-powered water jets on a high-speed ride around the perimeter of the ship’s top deck. The Aqua Duck takes passengers 13 feet out over the edge of the ship inside a transparent acrylic tube 150 feet above the sea. The ride zips past the Tween Kid’s Club and glides through 335 feet to river rapids before splashing down. Whitewater West of Vancouver BC manufactured and installed the theme park style water flume which allows Disney to trump all cruise competitors. “There is definitely a trend to go with larger, faster, more exciting and more experiential rides,” according to Andrew Mowett, vp of resorts for Whitewater. Home port for the Disney Dream is Port Canaveral. Call 800-951-3532 or go to www.disneycruise.disney.go.com. Resort developers wanting more info on the water coaster should go to www.whitewaterwest.com.
Budget Host Inn & Suites in Lancaster PA opened its Caribbean Indoor Waterpark in February. The 10,000 sf indoor waterpark is attached to the 70-room hotel. It is open year round on weekends only. The waterpark features two slides, tipping bucket, a lily pad rope walk, teen activity pool, vortex pool and spa. Guests of the adjacent Wingate Hotel can also use the waterpark, along with the Economy Inn, ½ block away and the EconoLodge, 1 block away. For more, call 717-397-7781 or go to www.lancasterbudgethost.com.
Celine Dion's Home Waterpark on Jupiter Island FL was completed in March 2011.
Normally, we ignore residential pools in our commercial industry report, unless the sheer size reaches commercial levels.
The Canadian singer’s outdoor waterpark is 13,776 sf with two pools holding a half-million gallons of water, several waterslides and a lazy river. The waterpark is attached to her 9,800 sf house on a 5.7-acre beachfront property valued at $20 million. Dion drilled 3 wells to supply the necessary water, which also cools the air-conditioning units. There’s also a reverse osmosis system that purifies the water to 98% on its way to the waterpark. Building the giant home waterpark was a 5 year process for the Las Vegas performer.
Trade Winds Resort on St Pete Beach FL added a 20,000 sf floating outdoor waterpark in March 2011. Not really land-based, the Splash Island outdoor waterpark is a new concept that consists of inflatable water toys, such as slides, runways, splash mats, trampolines and an 8-person Rock-It. Splash Island can accommodate about 150 people at one time. Registered guests reach the island park by wading and/or swimming out to it. Open to the public on a space available basis, a one-hour pass costs $25 or $16 for guests who pay with a room key. Life guards are on duty and all guests are required to wear life jackets. The water equipment is anchored in place and is dismantled each night. Trade Winds, at 6000 Gulf Blvd, has 584 rooms on 20 acres and 1,200 feet of beach front along the Gulf of Mexico. “Calling it an aquatic Disney World would a stretch, but this is the largest waterpark of its kind in Florida,” according to Trade Winds president Keith Overton.
In April 2011, Coast Inn in Waveland MS added a 65,340 sf outdoor waterpark costing $1.3 million. Bill Lady and his brother Steve own the 93-room hotel. They decided to build a waterpark to help drum up revenue. The concept is called Barnacle Bill’s. It features a children’s pool with a pirate ship, two 25-foot slides, a 390-foot long lazy river and an 18-hole miniature golf course. Plus there are covered pagodas to rent for parties, a snack bar, lockers and first-aid station. Open to the public for $20 a day or $15 to hotel guests. Great idea for an economy hotel to build business in the aftermath of Katrina! To discuss this idea, call Bill and Steve Lady at 228-467-9261.
Darien Lake Theme Park in Buffalo NY, in May 2011, enlarged its Splashtown waterpark, added 24 cabins to its campground and transformed 10 of its hotel rooms into bunkbed, log-cabin style rooms. The $7 million project added 5 acres to the 6.7-acre waterpark. The addition to the waterpark, called Swirl City Slide Complex, has four different water slides. The waterpark has a funnel slide, a cannon ball high-speed plunge, dueling slides, lazy river and a 44,500 gallon wave pool. The Lodge on the Lake offers 160 rooms --- 10 being brand new forts of fun --- and two high-demand family suites. Hotel rooms start at $170 per night. The 24 new Brown Bear Cabins, at $280 per night, are part of Cabin Village within the campground. For more adventurous families, RVs up to 35 feet are also available for rent starting at $165 per night, according to Christopher Thorpe, general manager. For more, call 585-599-4641 or go to www.godarienlake.com.
The Gaylord Texan Hotel & Convention Center in Grapevine TX opened its Paradise Springs Waterpark in May 2011. The 1,511-room hotel, which is focused on the meetings & convention market, introduced a western-themed outdoor waterpark that offers a 10-acre pool, 27-foot tall winding water slide, 600-foot lazy river, 3 hot pools and a 6,000 sf lagoon to compliment its 400,000 sf of meeting space. For the adventure sports enthusiast, the Gaylord also added a 42-foot long zipline where the rider drops into a pool at the end of the line. The Pool Bar & Grill offers a suds and grub menu. Private cabanas are available for rent. Great example of a large upscale convention hotel offering a waterpark for leisure guests. Now there is a reason for the spouse and children to join the conference attendee --- building occupancy and revenues for the hotel. To discuss this opportunity, call 817-778-2000 or go to www.gaylordhotels.com.
In June 2011, Schlitterbahn Vacation Village in Kansas City, Kansas added new rides and slides to its 1,000,000 sf outdoor waterpark which opened last summer. The $5 million phase two additions include a simulated surf ride, a mile-long rapids river, 2 head-first mat slides, an enclosed tube slide, a whitewater tube chute and a ride-up Aqua Veyer (tube conveyor) to eliminate wait times and the need to climb stairs, according to marketing director Chris Ozimek. The waterpark already had 2 mat slides, surf rider, rapid river, torrent river, slow river 3 tube slides, 3 tube chutes, Torrent Beach, Torrent Cove and Henry’s Hideout when it opened phase one last year. But the new additions bring the total work force to more than 500 during the Summer 2011 Season. In phase three, Schlitterbahn will have a hotel with indoor waterpark. The project cost for the fully-completed attraction is $750 million. Schlitterbahn is a Henry family-owned business with waterparks in Texas --- New Braunfels, South Padre Island and Galveston --- plus Kansas City. For more about Schlitterbahn KCK, talk to general manager Keith Fontenot. Dial 913-312-3110 or visit www.schlitterbahn.com/kc.
Greek Peak Ski Resort in Cortland NY added a $20 million Outdoor Adventure Center in June 2011, which includes a zipline, ropes challenge course, climbing wall, tubing center and a mountain coaster – all open all year. There are 4 ziplines ranging from a 300-foot training zipline to 500 feet, 900 feet and 1,165 feet. All ziplines have dual lines so you can race against your friend. The ropes course offers 18 different events and challenges.
The Alpine Mountain Coaster is 4,300 feet long and reaches speeds up to 25 mph. Greek Peak is helping to lead a trend where ski resorts are adopting the 4-season strategy and adding adventure sport facilities. Ski resorts at Attitash Mountain NH, Park City UT, Crystal Mountain MI, Okemo VT and Camelback PA all have Alpine Mountain Coasters.
The 106-room Hope Lake Lodge and 41,000 sf indoor waterpark opened at Great Peak in October 2009 which attracted families with kids 14 years and younger, but teens needed more excitement during warm weather, according to Al Kryger, president. “And that’s why we decided to build the adventure center --- full family participation and more action during the summer,” he said. A conference center is scheduled to open in September. For details, call 800-955-2754 or go to www.theoutdooradventurecenter.com or www.greekpeak.net. Resort owners and developers wanting to know more about Alpine Mountain Coasters, go to www.aquaticgroup.com.
Evergreen International Aviation in McMinnville OR opened its Wings & Waves Waterpark in June 2011. A Boeing 747 rests atop the new $30 million indoor waterpark which bills itself as the nation’s only educational and aviation themed waterpark. In addition to an aircraft on top of its roof, the 70,000 sf waterpark features 10 water slides, a 91,703 gallon wave pool and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. It is adjacent to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which features the Spruce Goose and is trying to get one of the retiring space shuttle orbiters. Looking like no other waterpark, 4 of the 10 water slides actually depart from the plane itself before descending down 56 feet through the roof of the building and into the waterpark below. Wings & Waves is open daily. Admission is $30 per person or $25 for those less than 42 inches in height. Entering the museum costs $10. The waterpark was built by Hoffman Construction with Counsilman-Hunsaker of St Louis acting as waterpark consultants and Group Mackenzie as lead architects. Anderson Poolworks supplied the pools and Water Odyssey the play features. A hotel in the planning phase may start construction in 2012. For more, go to www.evergreenmuseum.org or www.evergreenairlines.com.
Nick and Eva Laskaris own the Mt Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells WI, which includes the 350-room Hotel Rome. But they needed more hotel rooms. By June 2011, they had closed on their purchases of 6 additional hotels and motels in Wisconsin Dells WI. At first they considered spending $13 million to build a new 200-room hotel, but had second thoughts. Instead, they bought 1000 rooms for $20 million --- mostly smaller, older properties whose owners could not afford to upgrade them. Reflecting national hotel market conditions, the buy at a bargain price and renovate strategy seemed a winner for the Laskaris’. Mt Olympus acquired the Luna Inn & Suites, the 4-Seasons, Raintree Resort, Star Motel, River Walk Hotel and American World Resort & Campgrounds. All of the purchases are on land contracts with 10 to 15 year terms. No one loses a job and all of the properties will use a single reservation system, according to Laskaris, who is changing out carpets, bedding and door locks for the summer season. Some of the hotels will get new Treehouse lodging units and/or campsites. All will get new names to fit into the Greek & Roman theme. To talk to Nick and Eva Laskaris, call 608-254-2490 or go to www.mtolympuspark.com.
What’s Scheduled to Open by Year End?
Seven more hotel waterpark resorts are scheduled to open in the USA by year-end 2011.
In July 2011, Atlantis Marine World Aquarium will open its new $21 million Hyatt Place & Conference Center in Riverhead, Long Island NY. The 100-room Hyatt is adjacent to the aquarium, which opened in 2000. Typically, an aquarium is not an indoor waterpark, but there is nothing typical about riding a cage into the shark tank, paddling with penguins and snorkeling for pirate’s treasure --- making the experience highly interactive. The aquarium draws 300,000 visitors each year. Currently, management considers its market to be only Suffolk and Nassau counties because it’s too far for people in New York City to drive for just a day visit. Most local hotels are filled during peak times, so the new Hyatt Place allows the Atlantis Marine World to increase its attendance by drawing from a wider market. The hotel, built by Petrocelli Construction, is slated to open its Sea Star Ballroom in the fall. The property will offer 9 meeting spaces covering 12,000 sf, according to Bryan DeLuca, executive director for Atlantis Holdings. Plans to convert an old theater into a performing arts center, add 14 movie screens, plus the new Hyatt and the aquarium will help to create an entertainment district for downtown Riverhead. Steve Shauger is the newly appointed Hyatt general manager. American Resort Management of Erie PA is the management company. For more, call 631-208-9200 or visit www.atlantismarineworld.com.
Splash Lagoon of Erie PA plans to open its new indoor wave pool in August 2011. Splash Lagoon opened in 2003 connected to three hotels has hosted 1.8 million guests. Over the years, the owners, Nick Scott Sr and Nick Scott Jr of Scott Enterprises, wanted to add an indoor wave pool. “At first, we planned a 41,000 sf wave pool building,” according to Nick Sr. “We had already bid it when we tried to finance it during the recession. We got over that hurdle by keeping the wave pool the same size and shrinking the building a little bit.” Instead, the new building will be 32,000 sf and cost $8 to $9 million. The expansion will give Splash Lagoon about 110,000 sf of water surface. That’s nearly double the amount it opened with back in 2003. Weber Murphy Fox designed the building. Aquatic Pools & Construction built the indoor wave pool. The 250,000-gallon wave pool will generate waves ranging from 3 feet to 5 feet high with different patterns. If you want to talk to the Scotts, dial 866-377-5274 or if you want to see construction update photos, go to www.splashlagoon.com.
Quality Inn & Suites Waterpark Hotel in Knoxville TN is expected to open in September 2011. The 84-room hotel with 2,500 sf water feature is under construction on 18 acres at 323 North Cedar Bluff Road next to Starbucks where the old Budget Inn used to be. There’s a large indoor pool with water slides and an indoor hot tub. Nearby, Zuma Fun Center offers miniature golf courses, go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages and an arcade. Call the hotel at 865-531-8005. The hotel is managed by North Cedar Hospitality LLC. Website is www.northcedarhospitality.com.
Adrenalina Extreme Stores had always planned to install a Flowrider surf simulator at their store in Xanadu Mall at the Meadowlands NJ, but construction at the mall stopped when Lehman Brothers went down. For several years now, the mall has been a political hot potato. In January 2011, Triple Five, owners of Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, met with creditors and signed an agreement to re-develop the stalled mall. Major surgery was planned along with a name change. In April 2011, Triple Five reached agreement with lenders and NJ’s governor to take over the mall, now called American Dream Meadowlands. The developer will invest $1 billion and the state will provide up to $200 million in tax breaks. Reportedly, Triple Five will continue with original plans to build an indoor waterpark, indoor snow center and indoor skydiving facility. Adrenalina executive David Malamud says “we are still opening a store there,” but there’s much work to be done by year end 2011. Adrenalina has extreme stores in Orlando, Tampa and Plano TX. Flowriders are installed in the Tampa and Plano stores. To reach Adrenalina, call 305-770-4488.
Maui Sands Hotel & Waterpark in Sandusky OH is expected to re-open in the second half of 2011. Former Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis and his partner Brownlee Reagan of Reagan Resort Properties bought the long-stagnant indoor waterpark for $3 million. J Lew Financial is the new ownership entity. The 300-room hotel and 55,000 sf waterpark originally opened in March 2008, but closed in November of that same year as contractors claimed then owner Scott Emerson owed them millions of dollars. About $19 million was owed to Charter One Bank. A receiver was appointed to protect the asset and find a buyer. New owners, Jamal Lewis and Brownlee Reagan are trying to open 160 rooms and portions of the hotel waterpark this summer while also finishing construction. J Lew Financial also purchased the Fort Rapids Hotel & Waterpark in Columbus OH in July 2010. To reach Maui Sands, call 419-626-6671.
Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels TX expects to add 12 treehouse-themed resort rooms and a new 3,600 foot long whitewater river by year end 2011. The owners have cut trees and cleared a site along the Comal River. They say they will use the logs for a dozen resort houses they plan to build, and they will replant trees. Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort is an economic giant in this city founded by German settlers. The New Braunfels park has the highest attendance of any outdoor waterpark in the USA, according to co-owner Jeff Henry. Adding lodging means the waterpark resort can attract a larger audience from farther away who will stay longer and spend more in New Braunfels. At the site of the new section called Tubenbach, 68 old cabins were removed to make way for a new hotel on site. The 65-acre park was opened in 1979. It has 7 children’s water playgrounds, 17 water slides, a surfing machine and 3 uphill water coasters. Soon, it will have lodging. For more, call 830-625-2351 or go to www.schlitterbahn.com.
Jay Peak Ski Resort in Jay, VT is scheduled to open its 40,000 sf indoor waterpark by year end and open its new 120-room Jay Hotel by February of 2012. Bill Stenger, president and co-owner of Jay Peak, has adopted the 4-season strategy for success in the ski business --- create revenue-producing activities for winter, spring, summer and fall. Jay Peak will soon boast a state of the art indoor waterpark with slides, pools, lazy rivers and water play areas covered by a massive retractable roof enclosure that opens up in warmer weather. The indoor-outdoor waterpark promises to transform Jay Peak from a winter-only spot to a year round resort destination. Waterpark features include an Aqualoop, whose trap door drops out, sending riders plummeting 70 feet down a twisting tube. The waterpark will also have one of the country’s longest lazy rivers. Black River Design of Montpelier VT designed the waterpark built by DEW Construction of Williston VT and OpenAire of Toronto ON. OpenAire’s retractable roof won’t just look good, it will be good for the environment too. Unlike traditional structures, it leaves a smaller carbon footprint and saves more energy. When the enclosure is open, humidity is exhausted naturally through the roof, so mechanical systems that control the atmosphere can be turned off, saving energy. Plus the polycarbonate roof and insulated glass lets in lots of sunlight, so no energy is used to light the building during daylight hours.
Jay opened its new $22 million Tram Haus Lodge in February 2010. The slope-side hotel is just a snowball’s throw from the Old Hotel Jay, which was demolished to make way for a new conference center and a second new hotel with 120 units, a spa and 3 restaurants, rounding off a $125 million 2-year expansion at Jay Peak that also includes a golf clubhouse, ice arena and outdoor pool. “We have a great location that attracts Montrealers, New Englanders and New Yorkers,” says Stenger. For more, call 800-451-4449 or go to www.jaypeakresort.com. To see an animation of the retractable roof, visit www.openaire.com/jay-peak-ski-resort.aspx.
Hotel Waterpark Resorts Bought & Sold
During 2011, Nick Laskaris, owner of Mt Olympus Water Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells WI, bought 6 hotels with 1,000 rooms for $20 million.
Percy Pooniwala, owner of Perin Hospitality of Roseville MN, closed on the purchase of the Ramada Minneapolis Northwest & Grand Rios Indoor Waterpark for $5 million from the Wirth Companies Inc last July. The property has 224 rooms and a 45,000 sf indoor waterpark.
And Great Wolf Resorts Inc sold its 182-room Blue Harbor Resort & Waterpark in Sheboygan WI for $4.2 million to Claremont New Frontier Resort LLC, a joint venture of Claremont Companies of Bridgewater MA and New Frontiers Capital of Auburn Hills MI. Claremont owns 13,000 apartments, senior housing and an interest in eight hotels. New Frontiers has an interest in the Mountain Grand Lodge and Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark at Boyne Mountain Ski Resort in Michigan.
But the real surprise to the industry was the February auction of the 10 Coco Key Water Resorts. The sellers of the Coco Key waterpark hotels were various partnerships consisting of Wave Development Inc, Horizon Construction, Hexagon Financial, all of Wisconsin, and Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver. Here is a list of hotel waterpark resorts sold along with sales prices and the names of the new owners:
What’s Happening in Canada, Mexico & Caribbean?
Canada has a hotel pipeline of 124 projects in 2011 according to Lodging Econometrics after bottoming for five straight quarters. Canada has the world’s 6th largest hotel pipeline after the USA, China, India, UK and Brazil. Most projects are in Canada’s leading cities: 22 in Toronto, 8 in Calgary and 7 in Edmonton --- although not all are hotel waterpark projects.
Baymount Hotel Waterpark at Quinte Exhibition & Raceway in Belleville ON is under construction with 150 rooms and 22,000 sf indoor waterpark that will open in 2011 --- bringing the total to 128 hotel waterparks identified in Canada.
Four Canadian hotel waterparks are scheduled to open in 2012:
In Mexico, we have identified no hotel waterparks under construction.
In the Caribbean, the $2.6 billion Baha Mar Resort & Eco-Waterpark at Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas is under construction with 1,200 rooms and 871,200 sf of outdoor waterpark space. There will be 3 hotels operated by Rosewood, Hyatt and Morgan’s Hotel Group. Sarkis Ismirlian is the visionary developer. China is heavily invested in this project, which is scheduled to open in 2014.
In Other News
We have identified 317 hotel waterpark projects in the development stages --- from concept through permitting --- in North America: 3 in Mexico & Caribbean, 21 in Canada and 293 in the USA. The states with the most hotel waterpark projects in development are:
New York 21
Not all of these projects will get funded or break ground, but the volume does show strong market support for the commercial viability of the hotel waterpark resort concept. If you have corrections or updates, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s what’s happening in the hotel waterpark resort industry in 2011.
Stay positive, work smart and do the right thing!
HOTEL WATERPARK RESORT
Hotel Waterpark Resorts Open in USA in 2010; Twenty-Five More Launch
Outside North America / Jeff Coy / June 2011
Hotel Waterpark Resorts Are Under Construction, Opening in 2010 Outside
North America / Jeff Coy and Amanda McDaniel / July 2010
|Cruise Ships Add Waterslides & Aqua ParksFloating Hotel Waterpark Resorts Race to Compete for Families / Jeff Coy / July 2010|
|24 Ziplines Open in USA in 2010; A New, Less Expensive Way to Add the WOW Factor to Resorts, Parks / Jeff Coy & Amanda McDaniel / May 2010|
|Waterpark Construction Report: North America;Eight Hotel Waterparks Coming in 2010 / Jeff Coy and Amanda McDaniel / April 2010|