Feature Article - July 2008
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Splash City Roadmap

Trends in Aquatic Design & Programming

By Kate Bongiovanni

Weekend Escapes

For some facilities, boosting attendance by offering family fun allows those families to make a weekend out of their waterpark excursion. At indoor and outdoor waterparks aligned with hotels and resorts, families can check in Friday night after school lets out, be onsite when the attractions open in the morning and beat the crowds, retreat as needed to their rooms to change suits or take a breather, and be home in time for Sunday dinner.

Some parks are taking this idea one step further and appealing to those who want a little crowd control, hate to stand in line or simply want a weekend getaway that won't leave them fighting for a lounge chair or inner tube on the lazy river. The parks are hotel-and-waterpark conglomerates with a catch: Only hotel guests can use the waterpark, limiting crowds and adding to the experience. Call it the Holi-Dome revamped, and with more to play on than a waterslide.

Key Lime Cove in Gurnee, Ill., which opened in February steps away from the popular Six Flags Great America, features an indoor waterpark, hotel, spa, arcade, restaurants and shops. Its main attraction, the waterpark, is only available to hotel guests, and passes are available based on the number of guests each room can accommodate. According to the Web site, "The waterpark is part of the overall vacation experience and is open exclusively for guests that stay with us on property."

While some resorts offer a waterpark pass option when booking a hotel room, these rates include the park's admission and don't limit the amount of times you want to play on your favorite feature. It's perfect for a vacation without traveling too far from home, and offers pool activities—as well as non-aquatic fun—for everyone, with a kids' pool, wave pool and activity pool that even allows for lap swimming, whirlpool spa, and plenty of unique features covering 65,000 square feet.

"Indoor waterpark resorts offer families a place to get away and enjoy a mini-vacation without having to travel really far," Ezra said.

Not all facilities are moving in the direction of waterpark admission available only to hotel guests. Avalanche Bay at Boyne Resorts in Michigan went against this model and says that while it might cater to packaged guests staying onsite at the adjoining hotel, it also offers daily admission.

"It would be foolish for us not to allow them, too," said John Gerstenschlager, marketing director of Mountain Grand Lodge and Avalanche Bay. The area surrounding the property is filled with vacation homes and cottages, rental properties and additional lodging that people frequent year-round for ski trips, golf outings or urban retreats.

Gerstenschlager explained that Avalanche Bay wants to take advantage of the "up north" migration that occurs in Michigan on weekends and over vacations. "Based on where it's located and the interest in vacationing up north, Avalanche Bay is different from other resorts in that we certainly want and cater to packaged guests that stay on property as a lodging guest, but we also offer daily guest admission for those staying at neighboring hotels or have their own places," he said. "And that's not the norm of the indoor waterpark industry."

Avalanche Bay provides plenty of family excitement when Mother Nature ruins outdoor pursuits like skiing and golf by providing a splash area of multiple levels with water sprays and bridges, the Rip Zone surf simulator, hot tubs, an activity pool, an interactive shallow pool, a wet climbing wall, a water crossing with pool below, a Vertigo bowl ride, the Super G slide, Downhill Mat Racer slides and a lazy river.