Indoor water park and resort on Colorado Springs' north side designed as one-stop family destination

The Broadmoor
Get 'em in the door and keep 'em there.

The posh Broadmoor hotel in southwest Colorado Springs does it with leisure and corporate guests - offering an all-in-one resort that boasts lodging, dining, shopping, entertainment and recreation on site. No need for guests to take their pocketbooks anywhere else.

Now, the sprawling Great Wolf Lodge resort, scheduled to open Dec. 26 on the Springs' far north side, plans to do the same - but primarily targeting families.

Great Wolf, planned by Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Resorts, will offer everything under one roof - literally - in a year-round, family themed resort being developed at the site of the former, partially completed Renaissance hotel, east of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway.

Great Wolf, an all-suite hotel with more than 300 rooms, will have a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park as its centerpiece attraction.

Other amenities will include a 20,000-square-foot, indoor entertainment area with miniature golf, mini bowling, arcade games, a climbing wall and ropes course; gift shops; and eight areas for dining and drinks.

Even as amenities are tailored for families, the resort also will have a 20,000-square-foot conference center for business meetings, sports gatherings, wedding receptions and other group events.

"We're a drive-to destination," said Great Wolf general manager James Anderson. "Once you get here, you don't have to leave for a few days. We have everything you need."

That concept isn't new; whether it's The Broadmoor or others, many hotels and resorts "want to lock the door behind you," said Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But Great Wolf guests will venture out - pumping money into the local economy and taking advantage of tourism attractions in the Pikes Peak region, Price said. Great Wolf is part of the InterQuest Marketplace retail and commercial project; a 14-screen movie theater complex, restaurants and another entertainment center are a short walk away.

"There's going to be a lot of people that come for Air Force Academy events," Price said. "They'll have cars, they'll have access to things. But I do think once they get in here, it's going to be hard to get the kids to want to leave."

In July 2015, Great Wolf paid $17.6 million for the former Renaissance, which had been envisioned as a hotel and conference center by a successful Missouri hotel developer who launched the project in 2007.

However, the developer ran out of money during the Great Recession and work stopped in 2009. The Renaissance stood idle - a partially boarded-up eyesore visible to thousands of motorists passing by daily.

The project's general contractor bought the hotel at a 2011 foreclosure sale, and tried to sell it for years until Great Wolf came along.

After their purchase, Great Wolf officials said they planned to spend a total of $90 million - including the purchase price - to transform the Renaissance into one of its family resorts. Anderson said he didn't have any update on those numbers.

Great Wolf typically builds its resorts from the ground up; the renovation and completion of the Renaissance was just the second conversion the company tackled, said Derrek Kinzel, the company's regional vice president of operations.

The property was in good shape when Great Wolf took over, Kinzel said. The company razed a conference center area built by the previous developer, which created space for the water park.

"They (previous developer) did a great job with the design of the resort, so it really suits what we do well," Kinzel said.

The hotel's footprint was positioned on the property with scenic views of the Front Range. The hotel lobby, guest rooms, conference center and a couple restaurants are at one end of the property, while guests walk through a concourse to reach the entertainment area. The water park is being completed on the property's east side.

Great Wolf resorts are intended as a destination for families on vacation or who might want a long weekend, company officials said. Typical guests drive from two to three hours away - although some come from neighboring states, Kinzel said. Christmas and Thanksgiving weeks, spring break and summer - whenever kids are out of school - are busy times, he said.

The Springs location will be Great Wolf's 14th resort property nationwide - all with water parks - and will give the Pikes Peak region a new marquee attraction, Price said.

"This is going to be a different kind of demand generator," he said. "When it was going to be a Renaissance, it was going to be a convention-conference hotel. We've got a lot of those already in town. We don't have anything like this.

"This property is going to be really important," Price added. "Plus, we can finally have something on the side of I-25 that says we're open for business, as opposed to something that has plywood on it."

Great Wolf is about 70 percent completed on the project as it prepares for the December opening, Kinzel said.

Last week, he and other Great Wolf representatives took about 100 local officials, civic leaders, business people and members of the news media on a hard-hat tour of the resort. Here are some of the resorts features and attractions:

- Rooms: The resort will have 311 suites, which sleep four to nine guests through a combination of beds and sleeper sofas. All rooms come with TVs, refrigerators and microwaves, among other amenities. Some rooms - themed as "wolf pup dens" - have bunk beds and separate areas for kids, offering a measure of privacy for parents, Kinzel said.

- Indoor water park: The expansive area will include a slide complex, wave pool, water playground, water obstacle course, a children's pool, locker rooms and cabanas, with 20 lifeguards on duty. The water park is kept at 84 degrees and is open every day of the year - except for a week of maintenance in September. The water park is open only to resort guests and entry is included in room stays; guests can purchase additional passes for an extra daily fee.

- Entertainment center: The 20,000-square-foot Great Wolf Adventure Park - one of the largest among the company's 14 resorts - will include a nine-hole miniature golf course, a mini bowling alley with shorter lanes and smaller bowling balls, an area for guests to pan for gemstones and minerals and an arcade with video games where guests win tickets for redeemable prizes. The park also will include a 21-foot-tall climbing wall and a 20-foot-tall ropes course, in which harness-wearing guests balance on ropes and climb through obstacles, The park also will features MagiQuest - Great Wolf's interactive scavenger hunt that takes guests on a journey throughout the resort - waving magic wands, battling dragons and fighting goblins. Guests must pay a separate admission for use of most of the entertainment center attractions. The public can buy tickets for the entertainment area.

- Dining: Options include sit-down and buffet dining rooms, a full-serve Dunkin' Donuts, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and restaurants and bar areas in the entertainment center and water park. Dining areas also are open to the public.

- Shopping: The resort includes a store for souvenirs, apparel and gifts, a swim shop for water park users and a first-of-its-kind candy store.

- Conference center: The 20,000-square-foot meeting and banquet area will have the ability to accommodate eight meeting areas. About 10 percent to 15 percent of the resort's business comes from meetings, Kinzel said.

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