Cedar Fair investing heavily in hotel improvements at Cedar Point

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Cedar Fair LP president and chief executive officer Matt Ouimet recently green-lighted a $60 million three-year reinvestment of hotel properties at the Sandusky-based amusement park chain’s flagship Cedar Point property. If successful, the move could convince more visitors to plan multi-day stays at Cedar Point rather than one-day visits.

Read more from The Toledo Blade.

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Tekwardo's avatar

Seriously? If the hotels needed an upgrade Dick Would already have done it.

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Jeff's avatar

I don't even think framing it as a long-term investment is accurate. A lot of those rooms need serious help yesterday. I would be shocked if they were enjoying the kind occupancy rates they did six to ten years ago. The problem today is that if you go and see how crusty (and cheap) it is, you're not going to go back. Enough people do that, and it will thin the crowd.

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James Whitmore's avatar

With four properties (including Castaway Bay), CP could, and probably should, be is a constant state of upgrading hotel rooms. Doing half of each property each year would mean that every room would be redone every eight years. Which sounds about right to me.

Last edited by James Whitmore,


Doing half of each property each year would mean that every room would be redone every two years...

Just sayin'. ;)

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bjames's avatar

Whenever I've gone to Cedar Point, I've gone to VRBO and rented a house in the area for a week for a much cheaper price. In fact, I've done this for most places I've vacationed in. What middle class person would consider staying on the peninsula anyway??

Jeff's avatar

One that wants the convenience of staying almost in the park.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

You forgot to preface the question with, "I'm not trying to be offensive, but..."

Seriously, though, the value proposition just isn't there. If you knew what those places were really like, you would have to be a seriously hard-core coaster person to spend that kind of money just for a little convenience. I'd say "or have several small children" except I'm not sure even small children would justify it. I think it takes less time to get from CP's front gate by foot and car to, say, Great Wolf Lodge than it takes to get from the Magic Kingdom gate to your car at the TTC via monorail and tram. Yeah, it is convenient. But for that convenience, it is horribly overpriced. The right way to fix it isn't to cut the price, but to make the product worth the money.

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Jeff's avatar

But the reality, Dave, is the opposite. The occupancy rates are awfully good, and you know how cheap "hard core coaster people" are. Clearly a lot of people do see the value.

My suspicion is that the occupancy is declining, or threatening to decline. I think even Dick "You Gotta Eat" Kinzel would have seen the trend and reluctantly put some money into the hotels. In fact, they did just that with Sandcastle for, what, 2009?

I stayed at Lighthouse Point this year, which is notoriously sold-out. The cottage was clean, but wow do they need to replace the beds and do a little painting. Maybe they can get another year of sold-outedness for the location alone, but eventually people will not go if they had to sleep on a lumpy pancake of a mattress.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Every issue I've ever had with the resorts had next to nothing to do with the quality of the accomodations and everything to do with the piss poor service of the staff - specifically their lack of giving a **** if you do have an issue like a key not working at 1am or a less than clean shower.

kpjb's avatar

bjames said:

Whenever I've gone to Cedar Point, I've gone to VRBO and rented a house in the area for a week for a much cheaper price.

When you go to Cedar Point for a week, you are not the norm.


I take issue to the point in the story where someone claims that the hotels have been undermanaged over the past 10 years. (And, for the record, I've been gone longer than that.)

There is a point when management's hands are tied if the owner chooses to tie them and that is a major factor with regards to the facilities. If Dick didn't ok money for improvements ('09 being the exception) then improvements weren't made. Is there any reason in the world why the Breakers lobby is still not air-conditioned other than frugality? No.

Gonch, you are nicer than I am. Quality would be a motivating factor for me not to stay. But, to your point of piss poor staff I agree that it is a significant issue.

Even if the hotels look better they are going to have to focus on them being maintained better and the staff providing a more exceptional experience. That is really hard to do with a seasonal workforce. Maybe you don't notice it "as much" in the park (or you are more willing to let it slide) but when you are paying $200 a night for a hotel room you expect $200 a night service. I don't really know what the solution is other than perhaps more Full Time staff members who could be on top of the seasonal workforce.

I don't know how they staff now but when I worked there (before Breakers Express) we had one Full Time Manager on duty who was responsible for both hotels and the campground from about 5pm to 1am. In the overnight hours (1am-7am) there were no FT staff members on property though we were on call.

Even though Disney hires a large "seasonal" workforce via the College Program they still have a majority of their FT employees on hand who provide that oversight to those college workers. Cedar Point doesn't have that luxury.

I'm speaking pretty historically now and perhaps there have been significant changes but I doubt it.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

That's not to say staying at the Point is problematic. It rarely is. But when it is, they fail at fixing it in my experience.

And yes, that's directly resulted in lost room nights from us. Sprucing up the properties is nice, for sure, but if the service still isn't there is it much more than a band-aid?

But customer service in life in general seems to be slipping across the board. Or maybe my expectations are too high. It just seems like no one cares - or perhaps more importantly, no one seems to have to care anymore.

I agree with all of the comments, and also agree with the identifying of cap-ex dollars for the hotels. I have stayed in Hotel Breakers (old and new wings), Express, and Castaway Bay. I even overflow camped in 1980.

They are planning to remove the Gold Dorm housing, and while I don't think that will help the Hotel Breakers, a major overhaul will. They need an indoor pool onsite, or some sort of retractable roof for May and post Labor Day. Also, some sort of food court on the lines of the Disney hotels can't hurt.

Breakers Express needs to be more self sufficient, maybe with a food court with breakfast and late night pizza delivery options. I have never been in Sandcastle Suites, but I am sure it needs something.

Castaway Bay was 'good' when i stayed there in Sept 2011, but the rooms are not as nice as Disney's budget hotels. Everything in the lobby, like furnishings, hotel room beds, etc. are all 'off the shelf' buys, nothing unique. I don't expect the Hilton style beds, but for the 2 night package of $400, I expect'nice place to relax' after the Halloween lines or the indoor waterpark.

Also, the free buffet was just that, a free buffet. While they had a lone omlette station, none of the food was of high quality. The buffet needs a new layout for traffic flow, so going to 'stations' would help. TGIF was okay, but everyone reminded us that they were back to 'help out' for the weekend.

While I will eat at TGIF in Hotel Breakers over any in-park restaurant, TGIF and Denny's have become the vacancy fillers all over Las Vegas hotels, and maybe guests deserve a little more on vacation.

So yes, better tv's, and have a channel of all of Cedar Point, like the beach rentals, cabana rentals, all the sit down restaurant menus, etc. Another boost for longer stays would be to include a 3 hr. Castaway Bay session. Its a great way to get traffic over there, and if its a rain day, they are keeping guests onsite.

Pete's avatar

I pretty much agree with most of your points, but Hotel Breakers does have an indoor pool and hot tub next to TGIFridays.

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

My bust. I haven't stayed there since 1997 in the new addition. I stayed there in 1994 and loved the boardwalk side pool and hot tub, though it was cool at night in May.

Maybe they can get into the timeshare business and add another wing to Sandcastle Suites.

James Whitmore's avatar

Yeah, Breakers has a indoor pool. A tiny pool. With just a few people in the pool it looked too crowded for my taste and I skipped it. It was early May and too cold to use the outdoor pool. My point is, the indoor pool is TINY!


Bakeman31092's avatar

Jeff said:

One that wants the convenience of staying almost in the park.

Especially if you've added a new member to the family and want to be able walk right to your room whenever you need to, which is what I'm looking to do next year.

Jeff's avatar

I've been there. I've always stayed on-property at Universal, but having a not-quite-one-year-old who couldn't walk made it essential.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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