As the economy begins to show signs of improvement, it
appears recovery for the waterpark resort market is still
something of a waiting game.
“Its’ kind of a mixed time right
now,” said David Sangree, President of Hotel
& Leisure Advisors, a Cleveland based industry
As of June 2010 the U.S and Canada had 144 indoor
waterpark resort properties, and 38 properties with outdoor
waterparks, according to a report by Sangree and his team.
However, the report also notes that, “in 2010 the
growth in indoor waterparks in terms of square footage will
be the smallest in over ten years.”
Some new projects are happening. In March, Radisson
Hotel in Albuquerque, N.M., opened an indoor waterpark; in
April Sage Hospitality opened a CoCo Key Hotel and
Waterpark Resort in Orlando, Fla.; and in June, Great Wolf
Resorts announced a license and management agreement for
the development of a new Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove,
Calif. (near Disneyland). However, perhaps as many as 200
projects, according to Sangree, are in a holding pattern
until financing opens up.
“We’re not seeing any money for new
construction right now,” added Jeff Coy, president
of JLC Hospitality Consulting in Cave Creek, Ariz.
He and others believe that may not change until next
year or into 2012.
“I think it will be awhile before financing
becomes available, unfortunately,” agreed Todd
Neslon, via email. The owner and president of Kalahari
Resorts and his team have been working to secure financing
for a new property in Fredericksburg, Va. Nelson noted that
the failure of some properties may hurt the reputation of
the entire market with lenders.
Hospitality experts at Jeffer, Mangels, Butler &
Marmara LLP are more optimistic. A spring 2010 report from
the Los Angeles-based law firm indicates that some
investors appear ready to jump back in.
Additionally, some troubled properties, including the
Radisson Hotel and Waterpark of America in Bloomington,
Minn., and Three Bears Lodge in Warrens, Wisc., have been
sold and are now operating under new ownership.
All told, experts say waterpark resort development will
bounce back, but recovery is expected to remain slow as
lenders enforce tighter demands and more capital from
borrowers. Coy anticipates that before new building picks
up, there will be more operators and financiers taking
advantage of “fire sales” and purchasing
or refurbishing troubled properties.