City’s only hotel water park dropping Holiday Inn brand

The operator of the Holiday Inn hotel and water park on the northwest side of Indianapolis is preparing to drop the popular national brand in favor of flying solo.

As of June 13, the 344-room hotel on Michigan Road operated by General Hotels Corp. will be known as Caribbean Cove Hotel & Water Park. The hotel has been a Holiday Inn for more than 30 years.

The company's latest contract with Holiday Inn for the property was up for renewal and General Hotels decided it made more sense not to renew it.

Indianapolis-based General Hotels added the 50,000-square-foot water park to the property in 2004, boosting weekend hotel occupancy and ultimately giving the property more leverage to operate as an independent.

“Given the hotel’s connecting water park, operating independently will allow the property to shift away from the cookie-cutter approach of an institutionally branded hotel,” General Hotels President Jim Dora Jr. said.

Dropping the restrictions, mandates and franchise fees that big-brand hotels typically demand should enable the hotel to operate more efficiently and creatively, Dora said.

For instance, the hotel now doesn’t have the flexibility to adjust food service and menus for its weekend guests, the vast majority of which are families using the water park, Dora said.

A complimentary breakfast buffet for all overnight guests will replace the Holiday Inn Kids Eat Free program.

Guests otherwise should notice little difference under the name change, Dora said. The property will continue to operate as a full-service hotel featuring a business center, on-site fitness center and indoor swimming pool, in addition to the water park.

The on-site restaurants, Indy Sports Grille and Cafe St. Paul, will not be affected by the name change.

Hotel water parks became trendy starting about 15 years ago as a way to lure visitors in the winter months. The number in the United States mushroomed from four to 71 from 1996 to 2005, according to the World Waterpark Association in Overland Park, Kan.

The number has grown to 104 in the past five years, but has tapered off due to the recession and slowdown in commercial development.

An $80 million hotel and water park proposed in Fishers at State Road 37 and 131st Street by local developer Puller Group was scrapped in November after the lender took back possession of the property.

General Hotels’ northwest-side property was developed by Dora’s father, Jim Dora Sr., and opened in 1979 as a Holiday Inn. It’s been managed by General Hotels ever since.

General Hotels owns and operates 10 hotels in Indiana, including these local properties: the downtown Crowne Plaza at Historic Union Station and Holiday Inn Express on South East Street, as well as the Crowne Plaza near Indianapolis International Airport. Jim Dora Jr. operates three additional hotels under contract.


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