$180 million Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark set to open in March

As the Times Herold-Record reports, the much anticipated Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark is set for soft opening at the end of March, with the Grand opening set for April 5th.

Published by: Daniel Axelrod/Times Herald-Record
Published date: March 2019

The $180 million-plus Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark project is on track for a March 28 soft opening, its developer and new management team said.

Guests can begin staying at the water park’s hotel on April 4, with a grand opening set for the next day. The Town of Thompson water park’s supporters, builder and operator expect it will be a linchpin of Sullivan County tourism.

“It’s the next generation of indoor family water parks,” said Ken Ellis, the project’s builder. “The big difference is that the parents will have just as much fun as the kids.”

The two-acre water park area features 15 attractions, such as an adventure river, surf ride, teenager activity pool, children’s area and seven major water slides; a 200-seat restaurant with an outdoor patio; and a lower level with a 250-seat family buffet restaurant, a sports bar, a lobby bar and a tavern. Altogether, the park includes:

— 430,000 square feet, with a column-free water park area and a barrel-shaped transparent Texlon roof that will bathe visitors year-round in natural light

— An eight-story 324-suite luxury hotel, with rooms of at least 420 square feet, nearly twice the size of typical hotel rooms, plus nine room types, including one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and bunk-bed options.

— An 18,000-square-foot conference area for 500 people.

— A retail space, a coffee shop and a candy store.

— Laser tag, an indoor ropes course, a climbing wall and an arcade in a 25,000-square-foot family entertainment area.

Besides the newly announced opening date, Kansas City real estate trust EPR Properties — owner of the Kartrite and the former Concord Resort land on which it’s being built beside Resorts World Catskills casino — recently selected a park operator.

Benchmark Resorts & Hotels will operate the 600-employee Kartrite. The Houston-area hospitality management company runs more than 80 resorts, hotels, venues, events and conferences around the world, including two Florida water parks.

The Kartrite is named after Camelback Resort and water park’s fictitious explorer character, Sir Kartrite Van Der Berris because Ellis and Arthur Berry III, Camelback’s developers, are building the Thompson property.

After the Kartrite’s opening, Ellis and Berry will continue advising EPR and Benchmark, said Ellis, who added that other water park developers are already visiting the Kartrite to get ideas.

“When you see the finished project, you’ll say ‘OK, I get it,’” Ellis said. “It is truly unique, from the natural-light setting, with a transparent roof and daylight in any weather, to the mezzanine with cabanas; the $1.5 million in landscaping that makes it a lush paradise inside; the lazy river; the natural rockscape and the family rides.”

Two other water parks could be built in the mid-Hudson and the Catskills. In September, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said that Great Wolf Resorts had expressed interested in building an indoor family water park in southern Orange County, eyeing the former Camp LaGuardia site in Blooming Grove and Chester.

A different developer is interested in making a $65 million total investment for another water-related attraction at an undisclosed site in Sullivan County, said Marc Baez, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Partnership.

The company requested confidentiality from the Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes economic development, while considering the county for the 60-employee water attraction, Baez said.

Could so many local water parks survive, especially given the proximity to the Poconos’ water parks?

“Yes,” said Baez, who pointed out that Wisconsin Dells, in Wisconsin, has five large indoor water parks. Plus, “Our water park market predominantly comes from Westchester, Long Island, New York City and north, including Connecticut, while the Poconos parks primarily serve those south of I-80.”