By June, visitors to the Pocono Mountains will be able to go to the region’s first African-themed resort.
Last October, officials from Wisconsin-based Kalahari Resorts & Conventions disclosed plans for the $350 million entertainment/recreation destination at a groundbreaking ceremony at Pocono Manor Golf Course.
This week, Todd Nelson, the company president, led a tour of the construction site, not far from the spot of last year’s announcement.
The company, which owns African-themed resorts and water parks in Ohio and Wisconsin, is bringing Kalahari Resorts & Conventions – Poconos, its first destination resort to the Pocono market off Interstate 380 at Exit 3 in Tobyhanna Township.
With plans for an outdoor adventure park, hotel with more than 800 guest rooms and suites, convention center, spa and salon, golf course, retail shops, three full-service restaurants and indoor and outdoor water parks, the project has bought hundreds of construction jobs to the region.
“There’s 500 guys here working on site, so you can imagine the amount of work that gets done in a day,” Nelson said as he led the tour.
From a deck looking out at the indoor water park under construction to the interior work on the 20,000-square-foot ballroom, Nelson highlighted parts of the project that show the resort taking shape.
By June, the resort will open with the indoor and outdoor water parks, three full-service restaurants, spa and fitness center and convention center. The hotel also will open with 457 guest rooms.
“Everything will be ready in June,” Nelson said about the first part of the project.
ADDITIONS ALREADY PLANNED
The second part, to be completed at a later date, includes adding 400 additional guest rooms to the hotel, bringing the total number of rooms and suites to 857.
Also in the works are a 100,000-square-foot addition to the indoor water park space and a planned expansion of the outdoor water park by two to three acres.
“[We know that] just an indoor water park is not enough to keep people entertained,” Nelson said.
Leading to the entrance of the indoor water park, Nelson pointed out areas for games, miniature golf, bowling, laser tag and other activities, plus a swimsuit store and concession stands with displays of food behind glass panels.
The company will hire about 1,000 people by the time the first part of the resort opens – about 600 full-time and about 400 seasonal and part-time.
The construction employment is a significant portion of the economic development of the project, said Steve Magnuson, vice president and managing director of Kalahari Resorts & Conventions – Poconos.
The construction workers, roughly 500 of them, are employed for a year-plus, which has an ancillary effect on surrounding business in the Poconos, Magnuson said.
“A lot of these construction people have to stay and eat,” he said.
ROOMS UP TO $300 A NIGHT
Once the resort opens in June, guests at the resort most likely would stay for an average of two days, Magnuson said. If the resort’s hotel rooms were entirely occupied, the resort would have about 4,000 guests on an average weekend, he said.
They also would be buying goods in nearby stores, including going to the supermarket and buying gas, Magnuson said.
Seasonal hotel rates have not been set but would start at about $180 to $190 per night and go up to $300, Magnuson said. All rates include four water-park passes.