Cedar Fair investing heavily in hotel improvements at Cedar Point

Posted Sunday, December 2, 2012 6:41 PM | 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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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:49 AM

There is something qualitative about "never having to leave." It's not really measured in minutes, but more as an escape. Some people value that highly, and others don't. The current state of the rooms at CP, though, intrude on that escape, because there is just so much that needs to be fixed.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:44 PM

I would think so Jeff. I'm also planning to drag grandma along so we can take shifts.

This year marked the first time since '95 that I didn't make it to the Point, seeing as how my wife was pregnant. I've been scratching the itch with RCT2, but it's just not the same.

Aside from Lighthouse Point, have you stayed at any of the other properties in recent years? Any preferences/recommendations?

Last edited by Bakeman31092, Tuesday, December 4, 2012 1:08 PM
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 2:43 PM

Stayed in Breakers Tower this year. The room was adequate and relatively clean, but I swear I think it was the original furniture. It just felt so old. I can't really recommend any of the on-property rooms, but have stayed in them for the convenience. I know, that's a strange arrangement.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 4:21 PM

Well, people gotta sleep.

But seriously, Jeff's comments explain why they've been able to get away with it so long. Jeff knows what he will get there better than almost any guest. He knows the rooms are priced too high. And yet, he stays for the convenience from time to time.

Kinzel understood this too and with his very tunnel vision look on things he figured why spend the money if people are filling the rooms. Sort of like, why upgrade the food if people are buying it and eating it. In the short term that mindset works but in the long term it is flawed because you will begin to lose repeat business over time. Like the erosion of the coastline. Maybe it doesn't look bad in the first 10 years if you just ignore it but in 50 years you may not have a beach left.

I'm optimistic that Ouimet has a better understanding of the long term effects of doing things right the first time. Or getting them corrected when the opportunity presents itself.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 6:05 PM

I stayed in Breakers Express in September, but only because I couldn't get a room in Breakers. Not sure why, as the park was dead all weekend.

The first room they gave us, no exaggeration, smelled like a pack of dogs had urinated all over the beds two weeks prior, and it had just been left there to seep in. It "literally" (not really) hit us like a ton of bricks as soon as we opened the door.

I have no idea how anyone in housekeeping or management could not have quarantined that room from use.

Went to the front desk and the guy-in-charge was nice enough about it. He grabbed a couple room keys and escorted me to another room to see if it was acceptable. When it was, he got a cart and moved our luggage, pack-n-play, etc down to the new room for us.

The customer service was above average... he could have just given me a key and sent me on my way, but I still just can't comprehend how that room got that way, or how it was allowed to be rented that way. Thank God the place wasn't sold out.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 6:51 PM

kpjb said:

Thank God the place wasn't sold out.

It very well may have been. You just weren't the last one in and stuck with the choice of "take piss room or get walked."

Then again, if they area is busy enough they might not even offer to walk you as we found out a few years ago.

One of my service complaints (2003, IIRC) was a similar situation at Hotel Breakers - the room unuseably (dirty, smelly, unkempt, etc) in our opinion and we were given a "take it or leave it" response. Which is just amazing. Basically as far as we pursued the complaining, we got the same answer. Essentially "Sandusky's sold out, we have you by the balls."

I think the service you got is what should be expected given the situation. If you're getting less than that, find a new hotel (or chain) to stay at.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 9:37 PM

Usually, the front desk at Your Average Hotel will at least make a show of trying to walk you, even when they know there is no chance in hades.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 10:19 PM

Exactly.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:53 PM

Ive always stayed at the CP hotels when visiting and first let me say that for most of the year there are deals to be had. For instance for most of the year, one can find a reasonable rate of just around $129 to stay at Breakers Express which in my opinion has a good room and a probably the nicest pool on the entire property. When I stay at Breakers, it is soley for the convienence factor and in my opinion is worth the extra $75 or so upgrade from Breakers Express especially on very busy days. having the option to exit the park and go relax in a room or at the pool and then come back after the crowds have thinned just makes the entire trip so much better. To be fair, the rooms are dismal in the Bon Aire section and after staying there years ago vowed never to go back, the rooms in Breakers East are in desperate need of updating (especially the TV and bathroom floors which look terrible), and the rooms in the tower are not the price you would pay normally except for the location.

As for the customer service, Ive had one issue in 20 years with a toilet being stuffed up that was ultimately fixed but after much griping. On the flipside, two years ago on opening day weekend they upgraded my room to the tower section for free from a cheaper room for the entire stay without asking. With my return rate I think I paid somewhere around $75 a night to stay there.

In short, I think this investment is needed but I also dont think it was a complete waste of my money to stay on property in previous years.

Last edited by TheHSBR, Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:56 PM
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012 8:19 AM

The stuffed toilet reminds me of one of my biggest problems when managing at the hotels. The park and the resort shared maintenance staff, including plumbers. If I had a plugged toilet I would contact maintenance and they would tell me they would dispatch a plumber. Now, there may have been only a couple of plumbers on property and if they were at the front of the park and I was at Sandcastle then it was going to be a wait even if the guy came straight there.

But inevitably, that guy would make a couple of stops along the way and I'm not exaggerating when I say it could easily be an hour, hour and a half, or two hours before the plumber arrived. Considering there might be six people in a suite at Sandcastle you can understand a guest's point of view that a 2 hour wait for a plugged toilet is unacceptable.

"But wait wahoo, why not just grab a plunger and do it yourself"? Ah, good question. The plumbers were part of the union and if I plunged the toilet myself then they would file a grievance against me. I wasn't even supposed to have a plunger. Now, I am more a follower of common sense and I would typically find a place to hide a plunger and take care of those things as often as I could without worry about the ramifications. I mean, I could literally train a monkey how to plunge a toilet. But I can't tell you how many fights I got into because I had the gall to do somebody else's work.

Same thing happened to me once when guests were stuck inside their room after their door handle broke. We called maintenance and it being peak hours maintenance was busy. The one or two that were available ended up being tied up on a call at one of the rides so the guests in the room had to wait.

So, I grabbed the few tools I had tucked away and I went up to the room, asked to enter the neighboring room, went out to the balcony and climbed from the adjacent balcony into the locked in guests room. (Before Sandcastle had patio screens). I was able, finally, to get the door open and let the guests out but not before an hour or more had passed. Maintenance showed up about a half hour after that and when they asked how the guests got out I just told them we jimmied the handle until it opened.

I hope that this many years later they have better procedures in place. But, it was obvious then that first and foremost the park was a park...and the hotels had to take a back seat (even if the guests were paying front seat prices).

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012 9:06 AM

Many of the posts I read say the hotels need improvement. I personally stay at Camper Village in my own RV. I love the convenience. I believe Matt Ouimet is trying to make our area more Disney Land quality. And that is a really good thing.

Last edited by Ghostly Manor, Wednesday, December 5, 2012 9:07 AM
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:23 PM

Which is what George Roose wanted in the first place . That ideal was tossed by the wayside when Emil LeGross died

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012 1:00 PM

wahoo skipper said:

The stuffed toilet reminds me of one of my biggest problems when managing at the hotels...

Wow. Just wow. Amazing stories. Unbelieveable.

My experiences suddenly make a lot more sense.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:32 PM

wahoo skipper said:

The stuffed toilet reminds me of one of my biggest problems when managing at the hotels...

I cant wait to tell my dad that story because at the time he was the one primarily involved. Thanks for the insight!

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Sunday, December 9, 2012 6:27 PM

After hearing that Ouimet was taking over I hoped he would do this. Even new carpet, paint, beds and linens will go a long way to improve Breakers. I would love for my wife and I to spend a weekend a year at the resort but the value proposition isn't there when you consider the quality of what you get in Orlando for the same price. We would honestly rather camp as we did this year.

Last edited by eightdotthree, Sunday, December 9, 2012 6:30 PM
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Monday, December 10, 2012 12:56 AM

Even cheap Motel 6 upgrades their hotels every few years or so. What did Dick have against making Cedar Point a nice place to stay overnight? He would make the money back from each room with just a couple of nights rentals.

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Monday, December 10, 2012 1:33 AM

LostKause said:

He would make the money back from each room with just a couple of nights rentals.

Hold up a sec. Let's not be too hard on the ol' Dick here. True, hotels update every decade-ish, but it's no small cost.

This is $60,000,000.

Divide that over the 1187 rooms at these three resorts and that's almost $51,000 per room - you don't make that back in a few nights.

I'm not going to look up the resorts occupancy and ADR (is it even available?), but with those numbers you could start to estimate how long it takes to make this money back.

With that said, it's a smart investment and one that's overdue. But it's not really a simple as, "We'll make that back in a couple of minutes."

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Monday, December 10, 2012 8:56 AM

With Castaway Bay and Lighthouse Point I'm going to guess (a very unsubstantiated guess) they are grossing $250,000-$300,000 a night for the resort accommodations. The Occupancy Rate for the season is probably somewhere in the 75%-80% range but that might be conservative. When I worked there we were in the high 80s for the season and for the good part of the summer we hovered around 100% but that was before Castaway, Breakers Express and Lighthouse Point.

So, even further guessing might project $25,000,000 in gross room revenue but I'm not figuring in on any packages, taxes, etc. Now, looking at the 2011 Annual Report they noted $83 million in "Accommodations and Other". I'm not sure what "other" refers to unless it is what they consider "out of park revenue". In that case that $83 million might include out of park restaurants, Soak City and Challenge Park, etc. So, maybe my rough guess of $25,000,000 isn't too far out of the ballpark for Cedar Point Accommodations.

To Gonch's point, yes...they won't make up $60,000,000 in a couple of minutes. But at some point in time (and maybe it has already hit) the "they gotta sleep" vision plan is going to start to backfire and I suspect it has already begun.

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Monday, December 10, 2012 9:34 AM

$51,000 is a lot of money just to put into one hotel room, but you would know, Gonch. Do hotels really spend that much money to redo one room? My cousins and I did an extreme makeover to my kitchen, living room, and hallway about four years ago, and it was just about $1,ooo. This included new flooring and new paint and wallpaper, new curtains, a really pretty hanging lamp, a new front door. There was some bargain shopping for the supplies at a home outlet store, and I didn't buy new furniture.

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Monday, December 10, 2012 11:44 AM

I don't think we've seen details on how the money will be spent. I doubt they will put it all in the rooms. There are public areas that are likely outdated and if they don't tear down Bon Air I suspect there is quite a lot of work that could be done to the exterior, roof, etc.

Now, if they keep BonAir but start converting those rooms to suites (effectively cutting down half of the rooms) then the money will start adding up for structural work. Put in elevators and things will escalate too. I've said this for years but I'd love to see some ideas for high end suites on the top of the Breakers Rotunda. Of course you'd need to do some serious work but with the right imagination it could be spectacular.

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