Kalahari Resorts Amps Up Meetings Offerings

By Kelsey Ogletree, June 28, 2017

Michael Levine KalahariOver the next few years, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions will ramp up its efforts to draw meeting planners to its most recent Poconos property and a brand-new resort in Round Rock, Texas.

Opened in July 2015, Kalahari Poconos revealed Phase 2 of its construction on March 8. It included 520 more guest rooms (bringing the total to 977); an additional 100,000 square feet of indoor waterpark space; and a fast-food concept, Zulu Grille, inside the waterpark. The property also expanded its family center by 30,000 square feet and added a new virtual reality experience.

“This is the third-generation Kalahari,” says Michael Levine, director of sales. “I would say the family has learned and observed what people want and expect.” Kalahari’s first property, Wisconsin Dells, opened in 2000.

Phase 3 at Poconos, set to be open by January 2020, will add 125,000 square feet of meeting space. With the expansion, the property plans to increase its percentage of group room nights. The goal is 120,000 group room nights per year, says Levine. One of the features of the new space will be a 40,000-sq.-ft. ballroom. When combined with the existing 25,000-sq.-.ft. ballroom, the new space will enable Poconos to house and feed groups of up to 2,000 people. Due to the easy load-in design, trade shows have brought in massive equipment such as tractor trailers and helicopters. A funeral directors’ conference even brought hearses into the space.

“Our core group business is association,” says Levine. “[Kalahari is] an attendance builder because, with any resort, you get four waterpark passes with every guest room. So it’s a great value for people to bring their families.” For those who happen to forget a swimsuit, activities like omelet-making competitions, roasting s’mores and a ropes course provide entertainment between meetings.

Kalahari Heading to Round Rock

It’s that family-friendly nature of Kalahari that played into the hotel brand’s decision to plant its next resort in the family-oriented Round Rock, Texas. The community was ranked as the fifth-safest U.S. city according to the 2017 Safest Cities report.

“The addition of Kalahari is a total game changer for our tourism strategy,” shares Nancy Yawn, director of the Round Rock CVB. “Not only will we continue to be a destination for youth and recreation sports, but we can compete for conferences, events and meetings we didn’t have the capacity to host before.”

Economic impact of the 975-room resort is estimated at $4.7 million annually, plus 700 new jobs. The property will have a 150,000-sq.-ft. convention center and, of course, the brand’s signature 200,000-sq.-ft. waterpark. With construction set to begin in 2018, the property is planned to open around 2020.

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