Supplement Feature - October 2019
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Just Add Water

Indoors or Out, Waterparks Offer Fun for All

By Dave Ramont


Located in Kellogg, Idaho, Silver Mountain Resort has been a popular ski destination for more than 40 years. But they've also been enhancing their marketability as a four-season destination resort with golfing, mountain biking, hiking and gondola rides. And now their 40,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, which incorporates mountain lodge themes and views of the stunning mountain valley below, has increased their ability to fill beds and generate revenue year-round.

Jeff Colburn, general manager at Silver Mountain, said the waterpark drives occupancy in winter as well as summer. "It's great to go into the 84-degree warmth after a chilly day on the hill."

He explained how waterpark access is included with every stay. Additionally, day groups of 15 people or more can book time at the waterpark, and a limited number of passes are sold online each day, which Colburn said has been popular.

Food and beverage offerings are great revenue generators, according to Colburn, as are cabana and deluxe cabana rentals, which include lounge chairs, swivel chairs, a table, couch, refrigerator and flat screen TV. "People love them as a camp headquarters for their time here, and the less adventuresome have a place to chill and even watch TV while the rest of the family is off playing. I wish I had more of them."

As far as attractions, Colburn said their surf simulator and their family raft ride—a four-person raft that drops four stories through a large tube—are their two most popular rides. Surf lessons are available one hour before the park opens. After-hours surf simulator rentals are popular, and the waterpark hosts a sanctioned surf competition each year, which attracts additional visitors.

Other attractions at the park include a 315-foot lazy river, an interactive spray deck and an adventure island with a themed multi-level play structure, spray elements, a giant tipping bucket and two body flume waterslides. There's a floating obstacle course, an activity pool, enclosed fiberglass tube slides, a family spa and a shallow water pool with kiddie slides and a bungee swing. A surfside bar and grill overlooks the waterpark and includes hot tubs. "All people love water, so it's easy to attract a variety of ages. We see many multigenerational visits with three generations playing in the park," said Colburn.

With indoor parks the roofing systems are a major consideration. A proprietary transparent roofing material combines exceptional light transmission and high thermal properties, allowing for natural tanning in the dead of winter. The system also provides ideal growing conditions for lush landscaping, and it's acoustically tuned, allowing louder sounds of active play to escape, creating a more pleasant environment.

"They're the best system for air quality and for bringing the outdoors in with a 100% transparent roof. Beyond the cost efficiencies and ideal environmental conditions they offer, they also offer creativity in design through shape and color," said Mahoney, adding that they can light up at night if desired.

Since there is so much pressure on waterparks to be bigger and better then the next guy, Clawson says that many waterparks are adding hotels now, and not just the indoor parks. "Most of the outdoor waterparks we're working on these days have a resort complex associated with them including hospitality, retail and dining along with other recreational activities, sports venues, movies, etc."

Sometimes venues offer waterpark attractions without the waterpark. This past summer, at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colo., Shoshone Chutes officially opened. It's an exciting river ride complete with twists, turns and banks that mimics the thrill of a Colorado whitewater experience. It's one of three new family-friendly play areas that comprise the Sopris Splash Zone at the resort. Hanging Lake is a wade-in waterfall-fed pool perfect for youngsters, and Grand Fountain is a splash pad by day with water spraying seven feet in the air and an illuminated show fountain reaching heights of 17 feet after hours.