Niche properties

Indoor Waterparks

Private Developers Lead the Charge.

In 1994, indoor waterpark pioneer Stan Anderson expanded his Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Polynesian Resort to include an indoor waterpark. Since then, other investors have followed suit by getting involved in this lucrative niche.

Madison, Wis.,-based Great Lakes Cos. issued private placement offerings to equity investors who wanted to participate in the Great Wolf Lodge developments in Wisconsin Dells; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Mich.; Pocono Mountains, Pa.; and Williamsburg, Va. Great Lakes issued an initial public offering in 2004 to fund their future growth as an emerging brand.

Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark unveiled Splasherhorn Mountain (pictured) and other attractions in May 2005.

photo: Boyne USA Resorts

In northwest Michigan, Steve Kircher, whose family owns Boyne Mountain Ski Resort in Boyne Falls, Mich., halted the construction of a 200-unit Mountain Grand condominium-hotel when he hired consultants to re-assess the situation. Kircher wanted to add a large indoor waterpark and needed an equity partner to help fund the $70 million project. Randy Dzierzawski, a Boyne condominium owner, stepped forward with the money and formed New Frontiers Capital LLC to partner with Kircher. New Frontiers also teamed up with Bank of America and Wells Fargo to complete the deal. In May 2005, the 88,000-square-foot Avalanche Bay indoor waterpark and 220-unit Mountain Grand Lodge opened, making Boyne Mountain Michigan’s first year-round weatherproof resort.

In 2004, Jerry Andres of Eagle Crest Communities, a subsidiary of Oregon-based door and window manufacturer Jeld-Wen, worked with Leif Nelson of Crescendo Marketing in Jackson, Wyo., to pre-sell 68 condominium units at his Silver Mountain Ski Resort in Kellogg, Idaho. Jeld-Wen owns several resorts in which indoor waterparks and pre-sold condominiums are an important ingredient in the success of their projects.

Jeff Coy and Bill Haralson

Jeff Coy and Bill Haralson created Hotel Waterpark Research & Consulting to collect and report industry data. Coy is president of JLC Hospitality Consulting in Rochester, Minn., and Haralson is president of William L. Haralson & Associates in Dallas. Contact Coy at (507) 261-7474 or jeffcoy@jeffcoy.com. Contact Haralson at (972) 231-7444 or wharalson@comcast.net.

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