A few months ago I read an article about a boom in destination resort hotels built around elaborate indoor water parks. They’ve been a huge success across the snow belt, from Minnesota to Massachusetts. Great Wolf Lodges is a leading company in the sector, with 9 locations, including Niagara Falls, NY and the Poconos, PA.
Why not one here in Sullivan County, NY? A themed hotel with an indoor water park probably doesn’t quite fit our collective image. People here get more excited about plans (as yet unrealized) to build upscale hotels carrying luxury namesplates like Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons. Sure, one or two of those would be wonderful, but a mid-market water park hotel might be more practical.
We desperately need new hotels. We just don’t have enough rooms for people who want to come up and stay, and few choices for families that want to stay and play. One reason that five star resort plans are stalled is that the luxury brands require a golf course for a resort designation — and previous Ritz/Four Seasons proposals haven’t included a golf course.
A water park hotel is also appealing because it would be a year round destination attraction. We don’t have great downhill skiing here, like further north in the Catskills, so its been tough to develop a winter season. These indoor water parks can be even more appealing in the winter, where a ‘swimsuit getaway’ is only a drive away.
Our elected officials have been so focussed on casino development for the last decade, that other options that could promote Sullivan County as a vibrant year round vacation may have been overlooked. Maybe its time to court one of these indoor water park bhotels with the same fervor that we courted casinos.