With Colorado Springs’ first indoor water park and family resort scheduled to open just before the new year, the one-stop shop for lodging, dining and entertainment could create a surge in the area’s tourism and city’s economy — but first, they have to finish building it.
Although progress is being made — it’s about 70 percent complete — on the former, unfinished Renaissance Hotel, crews have proceeded with caution as they work to finish construction of a 50,000-square-foot aquatic atmosphere that will operate around the clock and pump 239,000 gallons of water throughout the park, said Karl Kraemer, senior construction administrator for the project’s design team.
“The environment inside a water park is very different,” said Kraemer, who works for Architecture Design Consultants Inc., a company that has been involved in the development of other Great Wolf Resorts throughout the country.
“You really need to control air movement because you don’t want that marine environment spilling into your hotel,” he said.
On a hard-hat tour earlier this month, Cody Butcher, director of aquatics for Great Wolf Lodge, told the media and community leaders that once the park is open, 4,500 gallons of water will move through filters every minute and the park will remain at 84 degrees year-round.
If specialized products and professionals aren’t included in the final build-out, the result will be caustic, Kraemer said.
“You won’t see raw steel because this environment will eat it right up,” he said. “We try to use aluminum and stainless steel, covered with a special paint.”
Construction for the $90 million, 10-floor resort began last September, with Flintco LLC the general contractor. In July 2015, Great Wolf bought the unfinished hotel in north Colorado Springs for $17.6 million, according to Derrek Kinzel, regional vice president of operations for Great Wolf Lodge. It had been untouched for several years.
It’s unusual for the company to buy existing property, said Kraemer. Although builders have made a lot of headway, they’ve also made changes.
“Great Wolf Lodge has had to adapt to what was already built, putting some constraints on what they typically design with their room models,” he said.
Crews have also moved mechanical systems and are in the process of redesigning a patio layout for the resort due to a conflicting guardrail and fire access road installed years ago.
“It’s kind of a hiccup,” he said. “We got bit by something that happened years ago and is outside of our contracts, and now we have to deal with it. But I don’t think the challenges have been out of the ordinary, and it’s an exciting project.”
Great Wolf Lodge, headquartered in Wisconsin, has been in business since 1997. It has undergone some recent changes as well — new ownership and a new CEO just last year.
In March 2015, the private investment firm Centerbridge Partners acquired Great Wolf Lodge Resorts from Apollo Global Management and in September, Ruben Rodriguez transitioned into the company’s top role.
“Their original brand was very ‘north woodsy’ and now it’s evolving, as they have new ownership,” Kraemer said. “They’re now calling it ‘mountain moderate.’”
The water park will be open solely to resort guests and 20 lifeguards will be on duty. The park will offer water forts, four- to six-story slides, kid slides, a wave pool, water obstacle challenges and private cabanas for rent.
Dining options will include a Ben & Jerry’s, Dunkin Donuts, a restaurant, buffet and bars. Children will be able to enjoy a spa, created just for them, where they can receive ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures.
“There are going to be very unique and new concepts for Colorado Springs specifically, and we’re excited to provide the area a drive-to family destination, especially during the cold winters here,” said Great Wolf Lodge General Manager James Anderson.
The adventure park will be open to anyone and offer games, family-style bowling, a ropes course, miniature golf and a climbing wall.
Families can pay for a single attraction or purchase pass packages online that range from $45-$100, according to the company website.
Promoting Colorado Springs and forming relationships in other markets will be a priority, Kinzel said.
“We want our guests to be comfortable, and many won’t be from Colorado Springs,” he said. “Maybe they’ve never been to the area, so it will also be important for us to better understand Colorado Springs.”
[su_box title=”Great Wolf Lodge” box_color=”#005ac3″]Location: 9494 Federal Drive
Opening: December 2016
Suites: 311 total, 11 different styles
Indoor water park: Total of 50,000 square feet, seven waterslides, up to six stories high
Conference center: 20,000 square feet with eight meeting rooms. The space will be open for corporate meetings and banquets and include a boardroom and business center.
Dining options: Dunkin Donuts, Ben and Jerry’s, restaurants, bars.
Hours: Open every day, year-round from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
To make a reservation: greatwolf.com/colorado-springs or call 844-553-9653.[/su_box]