Sandusky water park boom makes city year-round destination

Posted Friday, February 2, 2007 9:15 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Three water parks have been built in the Sandusky area in the last six years and there are plans for at least three more. Kalahari Resorts said Tuesday it will double the size of its existing water park with a $50 million expansion, making it bigger than the company's water park in Wisconsin Dells.

Read more from AP via The Akron Beacon Journal.

Friday, February 2, 2007 9:53 AM
What is interesting to me is that Cedar Fair is basically on the sidelines watching this all happen. Yes, they built Castaway but the growth continues and they are the outsiders looking in. Isn't that strange?

Here is what I would do. Tear down Sandcastle Suites and the adjacent Breakwater restaurant. Start from scratch with a larger hotel with an indoor waterpark concept that could compliment (or incorporate) some of Soak City. This would probably necessitate taking out Circle B of the campground (and maybe even the remaining campsites of Circle A).

If they got REALLY creative they would tear down the Bon Air section of Breakers and incorporate a new wing that would also somehow tie in to the indoor waterpark.

Then, they could purchase the campground out on Rt 6.

Of course, that is just me.

Friday, February 2, 2007 11:45 AM
I am surprised that they didnt do just that already. I am sure that Castaway Bay was a test. They also may have to reduce prices to the hotel in order to compete.
Friday, February 2, 2007 11:47 AM
To be fair, Cedar Fair has been spending their expansion dollars elsewhere of late...
Friday, February 2, 2007 11:59 AM
I'm not sure why they need to automatically go out and try to outbuild Kalahari. They took a hotel that they were ready to close during the off-season and made into something that actually makes a profit year-round. They don't need to be the biggest player in town to be successful.
Friday, February 2, 2007 1:07 PM
You made my point for me Gemini. They have two large hotels on property that they close each winter. Those hotel rooms just sit empty 6 months out of the year. Why not put them to work for you?
Friday, February 2, 2007 2:02 PM
Except that you might have a hard time putting them to work as they are. As you point out Sandcastle pretty much needs to be razed, and Breakers is really only "okay". Even the Radisson (which had room quality comparable to Breakers) needed and got significant cosmetic renovations.

Having the Best amusement park On The Planet right next door makes those rooms acceptable as they are. Having one of four indoor waterparks within a 10 minute drive as the selling point may not make the grade.

Friday, February 2, 2007 2:13 PM
It's easy to see the return on investment for Castaway Bay. But for such a waterpark market as young as Sandusky, those are pretty big investments and a much bigger leap. There may be room for several waterparks, but is there room for more than one the size of Kalahari?

And what does the room rate for an on-site indoor waterpark become during the season?

Friday, February 2, 2007 2:20 PM
I'd love to know the average occupancy rate during June, July and August of Kalahari and Great Wolf Lodge. We are going to GW in two weeks over Presidents Day weekend and the prices are considerably higher now than they are during the summer. I know GW sold out over MLK and Presidents day last year so they do just fine then, but how about during the height of the summer? Do they pack them in then too? I cannot conceive staying at one of those places for those kind of prices and taking one of my days and going to CP. Maybe it's just me?
Friday, February 2, 2007 2:47 PM
I've never understood why they haven't worked harder to create and sell conference space for year-round use. Obviously the Kalahari people do see that potential.
Sunday, February 4, 2007 8:54 AM

Personally I think they should tear down SandCastle Suites AND Breakers.

I think they should rebuild Breakers and make the lobby and Rotundra look like it did back in the day it was orignally built. Make the rooms and look of the hotel old fashioned. They should make the hotel very tall so it can hold a ton of people and build an indoor and outdoor waterpark around it. Connect the outdoor water park to Cedar Point and make the waterpark free with theme park admission. The indoor portion is reserved for hotel guests only.While they are at it, they should build an indoor amusment park too complete with a rollercoaster or two. They should also make an agreement with say a Dave and Busters and have that around too.

That would make CP hotel a better deal than Kalaharie

Sunday, February 4, 2007 11:34 AM
Tearing down tens of millions of dollars worth of construction and replacing it with tens of millions of dollars more. That's brilliant. I'm sure that would be a sound business move.
Monday, February 5, 2007 8:45 AM
I wouldn't tear down the Breakers entrance/lobby. I would, however, do some major work to add air/conditioning and heat. Bon Aire is overdue to come down. It was built in 1926 or so and even though the rooms have been refurbished over the years the time has come.

The other thing I would do with Breakers is gut the Rotunda upper floors and add a serious Presidential suite (or two) with private elevator access and the whole nine yards. I think that can be done while hanging on to the integrity of this unique area.

Tearing down Sandcastle wouldn't be a bad business move if they replaced it with something that had the potential to make more money. Isn't that what they do in Vegas every year?

Monday, February 5, 2007 9:38 AM
Each of the three times we've been up to CB, we've had trouble getting in, and I actually mean that as a positive. In other words, they aren't hurting for business. What would be the use in tearing down Sandcastle? CF/CP know that in the months of May through October they are the reason the majority of people are coming to Sandusky. These resorts, (including the new Coyote Falls across from Kalahari), are going to be bringing in business for CP, and they know that.

We've not had any problems at all finding vacancy at Great Wolf. Kalahari is soooo huge already that there really is never a problem getting in there, though the cost was a bit hard to swallow at times. But it's not enough to keep us from going up this coming weekend, (though it is for a cheerleading comp.).

Monday, February 5, 2007 9:49 AM
I believe there are 187 rooms at Sandcastle. I've going to just make up some numbers but: If they averaged $200 a night for 100 nights they are making $3,740,000 in one season on room rates alone.

If they could have 300 rooms at $200 a night for the same 100 nights they would make $6,000,000 in one season.

What about that math is complicated? And then, if you tied it into a new indoor/outdoor waterpark concept (somehow utlizing some of Soak City, if possible) and could extend the number of nights you were open....why not?

But, I agree with Jeff. One of the greatest potentials for business is in Conventions and I too am suprised (only a little surprised) they haven't done more in this regard.

Monday, February 5, 2007 1:25 PM

What about that math is complicated? And then, if you tied it into a new indoor/outdoor waterpark concept and could extend the number of nights you were open....why not?

Because Sandcastle is 17 years old (even the addition is 15) - it's probably mostly paid for (if not entirely). Which means all $4 million in your example is profit - it's free money. Tear it down and rebuild and how long is it before the revenue becomes profit (ROI)?

Great Wolf in Cincy cost $100,000,000+ to build. So do you take another 10, 20 or more years of $4,000,000 'free' profit or rebuild a similar property and have to wait that same time before you really start to see the ROI?

(yes, that's oversimplified and many other factors have to be considered, but that's the core issue)


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