The Wisconsin-based operator will make Scottsdale, Ariz. its 18th location in the U.S. and Canada when it opens a property on the Salt River Reservation and as part of the Talking Stick Entertainment District in the second half of 2019. It will be Great Wolf’s warmest location yet, but the company’s Chief Development Officer says “People find our concept particularly appealing in extreme weather conditions, hot or cold.”
Arizona is getting its first resort with an indoor water park, The Arizona Republic of Phoenix reported.
Great Wolf Resorts, the growing chain of popular family properties that debuted in the Midwest and has expanded to warm-weather spots including southern California, plans to open a location on the Salt River Reservation adjacent to Scottsdale, Ariz. in the second half of 2019, the Republic reported.
The resort, which will include a 350-room, all-suite hotel will be built next to Salt River Fields, the spring-training home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, and will include:
- An 85,000-sq. ft. indoor water park with slides, raft rides, activity pools and splash pads.
- A 27,000-sq.-ft. family adventure center with a ropes course, miniature golf, an arcade and a live-action adventure game with interactive magic wands.
- Outdoor pool with cabanas.
- Animated show in the lobby.
- Kids activities, including yoga and story time.
- Restaurants including a food court with Dunkin Donuts and Ben and Jerry’s, and a full-service restaurant called Barnwood.
Wisconsin-based Great Wolf, which caters to families with children ages 2 to 12 and now has 15 locations, sees Scottsdale as a natural area for its expansion, given its economic growth, demographics and popularity as a tourist destination, the Republic reported.
“We’ve been working on Phoenix/Scottsdale for several years,” Greg Miller, Great Wolf’s Chief Development Officer, told the Republic.
Great Wolf Lodge Arizona won’t be the first Great Wolf on a reservation—Great Wolf Grand Mound, near Seattle, Wash., has that distinction—but it will be the first Great Wolf property in a location where triple-digit temperatures are the norm from April into October, the Republic reported.
Miller knows the biggest question about Great Wolf Arizona will be why there’s a need for an indoor water park in Phoenix, either in beautiful March or in stifling August. Great Wolf’s advertising slogans include “Weatherproof your vacation” and “Trade in your sweater for a swimsuit,” the Republic noted.
But Great Wolf’s experience and research have shown there is demand in all types of weather, Miller told the Republic, in part because guests don’t have to change their plans if the forecast looks bad.
And the company has plenty of experience catering to people fleeing temperatures on both ends of the thermometer. (Dallas is another warm-weather location.)
“People find our concept particularly appealing in extreme weather conditions, hot or cold,” Miller said, adding that the indoor water park can be both heated and chilled.
Great Wolf Lodge Arizona will have plenty of competition for tourists and locals, the Republic noted. The Phoenix metropolitan area has an enviable lineup of resort properties, many of which are also aimed at the family market that Great Wolf targets. Sprawling pool complexes with water slides and lazy rivers are the norm at three-, four- and five-star resorts throughout the area.
The only one that can claim a true water park, however, is Arizona Grand Resort, home to the outdoor Oasis Water Park and its giant water slides, lazy river, wave pool and other features, the Republic reported.
Great Wolf clearly is not afraid of competition, the Republic noted. In early 2016 it opened the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California in the shadow of Disneyland. That property, which features 603 rooms and the company’s largest water park at 105,000 square feet, is the nearest Great Wolf Lodge to Phoenix.
The California resort, which promotes itself as the “most fun for your entertainment dollar in the area,” has water slides and water rides, a surf simulator (like the FlowRider at the Westin Kierland Resort in Phoenix), a wave pool, and a lazy river where guests lounge in inner tubes. Other attractions include bowling, miniature golf, shows, arts and crafts, and a spa, the Republic reported.
A room in early March at the Disneyland property starts at $275 a night, including water-park passes, the Republic reported, and a stay in January starts at $180. Great Wolf does not sell day passes to the water park, but guests may buy a few extra passes for friends or family to join them. During off-peak times, Great Wolf often offers discounts on deal sites, including Groupon.
Something that has surprised company officials in Anaheim, Miller told the Republic, is how many guests never leave the property, despite its shuttle service to nearby Disneyland.
In Arizona, the Republic reported, Great Wolf expects to draw locals from as far as three or four hours away, a range that would cover much of the state. School breaks and summer vacations are expected to be the busiest times.
The chain also expects to attract tourists headed to Phoenix to thaw out, play golf and go to Major League Baseball spring training games, Miller said, since many visitors come from places that already have a Great Wolf Lodge in the region.
“They’re from markets that we already have a strong brand identity in,” he noted.
Great Wolf’s newest location, among its 15 current locations across the U.S. and in Canada, opened in December in Minneapolis, Minn. Next up is Atlanta, followed by the metro Chicago area. Scottsdale will be the company’s 18th location, the Republic reported.
The attractions around the Talking Stick Entertainment District in Scottsdale, which now include Topgolf Scottsdale, OdySea Aquarium, Dolphinaris, iFLY Phoenix indoor skydiving and Butterfly Wonderland, in addition to spring-training baseball, were a big selling point for Great Wolf deciding to come to the area, Miller told the Republic.
“It’s a unique site that positions us to offer [guests] a lot of great experiences … right there,” he said.
The Talking Stick Resort, which includes access to the Talking Stick Golf Club, opened in 2010 with 496 rooms. Great Wolf will be the largest resort to open in the area since then, the Republic reported.
But it won’t be the only resort under construction—the Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley Resort, with 200 rooms, is due to open in March 2019.