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Business Observer Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020 1 year ago

Indoor waterpark-themed resort targets region for Florida debut

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Great Wolf Resorts spokesman says company is evaluating the opportunity.

Great Wolf Resorts, a family-friendly chain of experience-based hotels — each location features an indoor waterpark — could be coming to Collier County. The location, potentially a $250 million project, would be the first Great Wolf Lodge in Florida.

Collier County commissioners recently approved a feasibility study to gauge the benefits of a potential 500-room Great Wolf next to the new Paradise Coast Sports Complex. The study will look at any incentives officials could use to help woo Chicago-based Great Wolf, in addition to how much the county could collect in additional property and bed taxes.

Great Wolf officials confirmed the interest in Florida.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand the Great Wolf Lodge resort experience to new audiences,” says a Great Wolf Lodge spokesman in an email response to questions. “We are currently evaluating the prospect of developing one of our signature indoor water park resorts in South Florida, and have engaged in early discussions with local officials about a promising location in Collier County.  However, we’re still very much in the early stage of exploration.  We greatly appreciate the economic development team’s willingness to consider a Great Wolf Lodge resort as part of this specific development, and look forward to continuing the dialog with officials as we further evaluate this opportunity.”

There could be in-state competition to land a Great Wolf, too: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported last year the company was also considering a site in Pompano Beach. There are 19 Great Wolf Lodge resorts in North America, including one in Charlotte, N.C. and one in Atlanta.  

A Great Wolf Lodge would be a major economic development win for Collier County. Most of the firm’s resorts, which include arcades, games and other attractions in addition to the waterparks, tend to be 450-500 rooms, the spokesman says. That size, the spokesman adds, would require up to 600 employees.

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