SLIPPING AND SLIDING IN COLUMBUS

Many hotel companies are expanding their presence in the indoor waterpark resort market, and Holiday Inns is no exception. In late May, franchisee Focus Lodging Group opened the largest of 11 Holiday Inn-branded waterpark properties. The western-themed Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Fort Rapids on the east side of Columbus, OH is that market's first indoor waterpark.

Focus Lodging transformed and expanded an aging Holiday Inn into a kid's version of heaven. The 60,000-square-foot park has 800,000 gallons of water, 12 waterslides, a lazy river, zero-entry toddler pool, 30-person hot tub and a four-story water play structure with a 1,000-gallon dump tank. Other amenities include a large game room, family-style restaurant and a bar.

Focus renovated the 278 rooms in the property's main story to include some of Holiday Inns' Kid Suites units. A separate new building houses 60 Villa Suites for families and larger groups. The largest suite accommodates 12 people. The company also plans to sell condo hotel units at the property.

Before the renovation, the property primarily catered to business travelers and groups, segments Focus hopes to retain, especially during the week. The property has a business center and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

Columbus-based Focus is an owner and operator of 11 properties under a variety of brands besides Holiday Inn. The company has five properties under development, including several more waterpark hotels, one of which will be the first Marriott and the first in the Northeast with such a facility.

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