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Published: Friday, 5/31/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Maui Sands Resort reopens to compete with 3 other Sandusky water park venues

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINES WRITER
Maui Sands Resort Water Park in Sandusky has reopened after closing in 2008. The 45,000-square-foot complex features a giant bowl slide, inner tube and body slides, an action river, and multiple pool areas. Maui Sands Resort Water Park in Sandusky has reopened after closing in 2008. The 45,000-square-foot complex features a giant bowl slide, inner tube and body slides, an action river, and multiple pool areas.
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SANDUSKY — For the first time in several years, the Sandusky area can offer fun seekers a fourth indoor water park.

Closed in 2008 after drowning in a sea of red ink and falling into bankruptcy, the Maui Sands Resort and Indoor Water Park at State Rt. 2 and U.S. 250 in Erie County’s Perkins Township has been fully revived this season and is back competing against the Sandusky area’s formidable lineup of family entertainment venues.

“It’s as nice as any water park and we can be a value park, a family value park that has a really great experience for all ages,” said Rick Coleman, vice president of operations and development for American Resort Management, the Erie, Pa., firm hired to run the newly re-opened Maui Sands Resort.

The park’s tale is a soggy one.

Opened in 2007 to vie for a piece of Erie County’s growing tourist trade with hotel/water park competitors the Kalahari Resort, the Great Wolf Lodge, and Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay, the fledgling Maui Sands soon ran into financial difficulty. It closed for good on Thanksgiving Day in 2008, laid off 100 employees, and filed for bankruptcy a few weeks later.

With its original developer, Scott Emerson, mired in debt, the property remained closed for four years while going through the liquidation process and it was eventually purchased for $2 million in a 2011 online auction by Baltimore-based developer Kirit Parmar, president of Sun Development Corp., formerly known as MKSP LLC.

Mr. Parmar reopened 136 rooms of the hotel in May, 2012, but it wasn’t until three months ago, on March 15, that the water park portion of the complex finally reopened to the public and put the property on nearly equal footing with its competitors.

“The entire complex is rather extensive. Some rooms opened last year without the water park and we were engaged by the ownership to get the rest of the property going,” Mr. Coleman said. “So at this point we’re at 225 rooms available, and the restaurant and water park have reopened.

“We’re continuing to remodel and we hope to have the remaining 100-plus rooms opened later this year,” he said.

The Maui Sands Water Park, a 45,000-square-foot complex that features a giant bowl slide, inner tube and body slides, an action river, and multiple pool areas, was well-maintained throughout the bankruptcy by the court-appointed receiver and basically only needed a thorough cleaning before opening, Mr. Coleman said.

But its opening faced a lengthy delay because the drains on its pools did not meet federal safety standards enacted after 2008. “We had to go and make modifications to the drains and filtration systems. It was a lot of work but it had to be done,” Mr. Coleman said.

Updating the rooms has been a much easier process, he added.

“There’s still an area to finish renovating, that’s the area closest to U.S. 250. And we’re still wondering what to do with the old Holiday Inn Holi-dome portion of the property that remains,” Mr. Coleman said. “The intent is to fully renovate the rest of the property and fortunately, many of the rooms are still brand new. A lot of them only were opened just a few months before the closing, so they never were used much.”

While the bankruptcy left the Maui Sands in limbo since 2008, Mr. Coleman said the property’s four-year slumber actually gives Sun Development a significant advantage that Mr. Emerson never had.

“[Sun officials] were able to acquire the property at a fairly reasonable price, which allow us to price ourselves at a pretty reasonable price tier,” Mr. Coleman said.

Maui Sands’ daily room rate currently is $149 per night on weekdays for a family of four and that includes access to its indoor water park. Great Wolf charges $159, Castaway Bay $129, and Kalahari $189 per night on weekdays, although all three parks periodically offer specials and value packages.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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