Although summer is looking a little different this year, those looking for a break don’t have to cancel their summer vacations. This season can still provide them with an escape, and revenue for your property. People are still craving a change of scenery to mix up their daily routines and your hotel or resort can offer them the perfect solution.

Enter stage right, the staycation

The term staycation was coined in the United States around 2008 and is exactly what it sounds like, a vacation where you stay close to home. With more families turning to staycations as a budget-friendly alternative, or because of travel restrictions, the younger demographic has become one of the hotel industry’s most sought-after guests as parents look for hotels that can entertain both the parent and child. Having amenities such as a water park will become important as decision makers look to exciting and entertaining alternatives a little closer to home.

Camelback Resort in Tannersville, PA

Gaining revenue from water parks

While building a water park at a hotel is not a new concept, is there evidence that it will have a positive impact on a hotel or resort’s profits? The research says, ‘yes’. Our first example comes from Hotel & Leisure Advisors, who analyzed the change in performance of seven existing hotels following the addition of an indoor water park. They found that after the addition, the properties reported a 59% average increase in room revenue per available room.[1] Because water parks encourage people to spend more time on property, the hotels saw a boost in ancillary revenue from families buying food and beverages, souvenirs, and gifts.

The popularity of hotel-based indoor water parks continues to increase as more executives learn the monetary benefits of adding a water park. As water parks create an amenity, turning a hotel into a destination rather than just a lodging, water parks can help fill rooms and eliminate off seasons. According to Steve Schettl, Managing Director of The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort in Wisconsin Dells, “February, March, and April are as busy for the resort as June due to the water park.”[2] The resort originally had a 70,000-square-foot indoor water park but recently expanded, adding another 50,000 square feet (15,240 square metres) to the water park in 2003.

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Miami, FL

Increasing room nights

Many resorts and hotels in Arizona have also introduced family-oriented water parks as part of their guest experience in a marketing effort to appeal to a broader guest base. A study on vacation marketing explored the development of water features at major resorts and found “the investment in a water park at Pointe Squaw Peak (Phoenix, AZ) tremendously improved the room night occupancies. For a resort whose occupancies hovered in the 40% range in the early 1990s, it has seen a resurgence in popularity and guest loyalty growing to occupancies in the high 80% range today.[3] With the addition of the water park, the hotel gave people a reason to keep coming back, creating loyalty from the family memories made on property.

De Palm Resort in Aruba

Summer may end, but the fun remains

Even after summer ends, there are draws to having a water park at your hotel. One of the best examples of this is the Best Western Sterling Inn in Milwaukee. Known for being a primarily business-traveler hotel, the addition of a water park changed this perception and brought in guests on days of the week that otherwise were slow—particularly weekends. Co-owner of the Best Western, Victor Martin, said, “convention travelers who know we have the water park are now bringing their family with them to the convention.”[3] Business travelers bringing their families create another opportunity for longer stays, additional revenue, and year-round increase in occupancy rates.

Hotel Kipriotis Aqualand, in Kos, Greece

Is a water park right for you?

The benefits of adding aquatic amenities abound from local guests needing an escape from reality, the opportunity to generate additional revenue bases, and increases in overall occupancy rates. To learn if adding aquatic amenities is the right choice for your property, we have compiled a checklist with some of the preliminary questions you should ask. Send us an email at sales@whitewaterwest.com to get a copy of the checklist and see if adding a water park might be the right fit for your property.


[1] Sangree, D. J., & Keller, L. A. (2008, May 26). Unique Ways For Resorts To Radically Increase Revenue. Retrieved from Hospitality Net: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4036076.html

[2] Higley, J. (2002). Making waves. Hotel & Motel Management, 217(14), 132.

[3] Trowbridge, E. H. (1999). The marketing of water parks, slides and surf. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 5(1), 82-93.

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Mat Racer, Gui'an Water Park, Fuzhou, China