Bigger water park, ropes course among new features at Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee
Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee will soon bustle with families there to shop, play, eat and waterslide, but on Wednesday the lodge was full of construction crews hard at work on the extensive, expensive renovation.
Most every trace of the old Key Lime Cove theme has been replaced with the national chain's north woods aesthetic. Some of the 414 hotel suites even include kids rooms made to look like a log cabin.
Common areas feature a rustic interior stuffed with entertainment and attractions.
General Manager Emilio Fabico led members of the media on a hard-hat tour through the resort Wednesday, stopping frequently to talk about what was ahead -- a ropes course, climbing wall, 18-hole mini-golf course, mini-bowling and a video arcade with more than 100 machines.
There will be restaurants, from a fancy farm-to-table restaurant with seasonal offerings, to a taco joint serving food from an old bus and many options in between. Shops will include a build-your-own toy store featuring Great Wolf Lodge's animal characters, as well as those selling candy shop and custom flip-flops.
All of that is in addition to the indoor water park, which will nearly double in size to 80,000 square feet as part of Great Wolf Lodge's more than $65 million renovation.
Fabico said officials based water park changes on feedback from guests and employees from the Key Lime Cove era. Additions include a giant bucket that fills with 700 gallons of water and dumps it over guests every three minutes and a bigger area for kids not comfortable with swimming but who still want to get wet.
An outside pool with a large deck was added because customers said they would like to enjoy the sun.
"That will be for when we have nicer weather, which I know is coming very soon," Fabico said with a smile.
Fabico, who used to work for Disney, said officials have received a lot of interest and positive feedback from local leaders.
Great Wolf Lodge's planned July 1 opening is good news for the Gurnee's revenues.
Local sales tax revenues have failed to hit projections 11 out of the last 12 months. The village does not levy property taxes for village services, so money it receives from local sales and hotel taxes is important.
Last month, the village board voted to increase its amusement tax from 3 percent to 4 percent and the hotel tax from 5 percent to 6 percent. The increases, which go into effect May 1, are expected to generate about $1 million in extra revenue.
Mayor Kristina Kovarik said it is hard to say whether the village board would have pursued the tax increases if sales tax revenue was higher.
The opening could also be good news for the local job market. Fabico said the company wants to hire around 600 full- and part-time employees and will soon host hiring events. In some cases, priority will be given to former Key Lime Cove employees, such as former life guards, he said.
Great Wolf Lodge is taking reservations on its website greatwolf.com/illinois.