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
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.