|By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 21, 2013--Milwaukee's Hilton hotel is closing its waterpark -- one of few such downtown waterparks in the United States -- in favor of something more "upscale and contemporary," hotel owner Marcus Corp. has announced.
That indicates a bigger focus on drawing business travelers and people attending the neighboring Delta Center convention facility.
The Hilton Milwaukee City Center, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave., will close its Paradise Landing waterpark on March 3. Marcus executives aren't yet saying what will replace the waterpark, which opened in November 2000 and covers about 20,000 square feet.
Paradise Landing was the first urban indoor waterpark in the country when it opened, said Steve Magnuson, Marcus Hotels & Resorts vice president of operations, in a statement issued Wednesday.
"And while we have seen success with the waterpark concept over the years, we now think this significant space could be repurposed in a more beneficial way for our guests," Magnuson said.
The statement provided no details on what that new use will be. A notice posted at the hotel's website says Marcus will be "creating a more upscale and contemporary experience for all of our guests."
One possibility would be a another location for the company's Well Spa and Salon chain, which Marcus Hotels opened in recent years at its Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., and at company hotels in Lake Geneva and Las Vegas, said Greg Hanis, who operates Hospitality Marketers Inc.
Hilton guests who want spa services are now referred to the Well Spa at the Pfister and are reimbursed for their taxi fares.
Hanis said Marcus also could convert part of the waterpark into a lap pool with a lounge area, where people can socialize. The Hilton lacks a conventional swimming pool.
"That would probably be the easiest conversion of that space," he said.
Paradise Landing was a strong amenity for the 730-room Hilton and helped draw a lot of weekend leisure travelers, until the novelty effect wore off, Hanis said.
"It's run its course," said Hanis.
Families who want to do a hotel waterpark vacation typically will drive to the Wisconsin Dells area, where there are many such hotels, he said.
With the closing of Paradise Landing, the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha will be the only Milwaukee-area hotel with a full-size waterpark.
That hotel's 45,000-square-foot waterpark opened in 2003 and has helped attract families, including people attending continuing education conferences at Country Springs who bring their children, said Mark Flaherty, one of the hotel's owners.
"It was a natural fit," Flaherty said.
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