In a clear indication of the impact of the recession, fewer than 20 hotel waterpark resorts opened in 2009, compared to 24 openings in 2008 and 34 in 2007.

According to a bi-annual construction report by Cave Creek, Ariz.-based JLC Hospitality Consulting, 18 hotel waterpark resorts opened in the United States in 2009, with 7 projects pushed into 2010 and beyond. Some of the newly opened properties include: The Lodge at Deadwood Mountain Resort in South Dakota, which opened last month; Castle Rock Resort, located in Branson Mo.; Great Wolf Lodge properties in Concord, N.C., and Grapevine, Texas; Valley of the Springs Resort in French Lick, Ind.; and Metropolis Hotel in Eau Claire, Wis.

Jeff Coy, JLC president and author of the report, notes higher unemployment, a stand-still construction industry and a lack of bank loans for commercial real estate construction as the main reasons for the slowdown in development. He adds that properties that opened in the midst of the global financial crisis were able to do so because financing was secured before the economic slide began.

The report notes a total of 217 waterpark resorts now open in the United States and documents a 9 percent growth since 2008. That’s down from a high of almost 32 percent in 2005.