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    Judge’s Comment: I really thought it was impressive that water safety education was such an important part of their mission.

With a Florida Keys theme, KeyLime Cove offers Midwesterners a convenient alternative to a tropical vacation within driving distance of their homes. Likened to a “cruise ship on land” experience, the décor, amenities and staff make guests feel as though they are vacationing at a sun-drenched resort.

Guests appreciate value and they want options. To keep them coming back, this Gurnee, Ill.-based KeyLime Cove partnered with Six Flags Great America, which allows the resort to package Six Flags’ tickets with one- and two-night stays, and offer a free shuttle to the amusement park. That saves guests the cost of parking. Complimentary shuttle service to other local attractions such as Gurnee Mills is included with every stay, as are day passes to nearby Gold’s Gym.

At check-in, guests receive radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands, which provide keyless access to rooms and lockers, plus it eliminates the need to bring wallets, purses, cash and room keys to the waterpark. Parents can pre-load a set amount of money onto their children’s wristbands, if they want. Besides guest amenities, a staff that puts safety first is a must at an indoor waterpark.

The staff here works together flawlessly to provide the utmost safety and outstanding guest service. To ensure clear communication between the 180 lifeguards, they are allowed to “talk” on their own Facebook page with each other and with management. Monthly events such as movies and golf allow crew members a chance to enjoy time outside of lifeguarding, which contributes to the morale and positive energy of the staff.

Daily revivals and “Guard of the Week” recognitions keep the work environment fun and enthusiastic. Lifeguards also participate in the Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s Lifeguard Games and have won the Spirit Award every year since the property opened in 2008.