Maryland's First Indoor Water Park Planned in the Deep Creek Lake Area of Garrett County
Aqua Mountain Resort, an indoor water park hotel project located in the Deep Creek Lake area of Garrett County will become the first resort of its kind in the state of Maryland. Nestled in the mountains of western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake has long been a popular four-season vacation destination with the largest fresh water lake in the state and Maryland's only ski resort, Wisp.
When complete, Aqua Mountain Resort will include a 165-suite hotel, 60 private log cabin suites, and a 78,000 square foot Indoor water park. The developer, Jonathan "Smiley" Kessler, has been in the development/construction, hospitality and amusement business in Garrett County for over twenty years. Mr. Kessler has brought together a project team to develop Aqua Mountain Resort consisting of highly respected water park consultants that include David Sangree, President of Hotel & Leisure Advisors, LLC, industry consultant, Jeff Lococo, of the Lococo Company, Bruce D. Robinson, architect, and Water Technology, Inc.
Owner of Smiley's Pizzeria, the Fun Zone indoor and outdoor amusement park, and Pine Lodge Steakhouse, Mr. Kessler has the insight to recognize economic trends and business opportunities. "In addition to the economic and employment value to the county, Aqua Mountain Resort fills a niche in our mountain vacation destination," Mr. Kessler said. The profile of a typical water park guest has a household income of $50,000, with children aged 5-12 as core guests. The majority travel less than 200 miles or three hours by car. "Our county is missing this family segment. The natural beauty of the area should be accessible to all families," he concludes. The Deep Creek Lake area is a popular second home and vacation rental home destination to the Baltimore, Maryland, D.C. metro, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania markets.
Jim Hinebaugh, director of Garrett County's Department of Economic Development, agrees. "An indoor water park fits extremely well with the county's strategic initiative to develop additional off-lake family activities to help create a year-round vacation destination," said Mr. Hinebaugh. "The employment and tax benefits expected to be generated by Mr. Kessler's project has the potential to provide a very positive impact on the local economy," he adds.
Aqua Mountain Resort is located on 16- acres along route 219 in McHenry and adjacent to the Garrett County Fairgrounds. The infrastructure is currently under construction with expected completion of site grading, roadways and utilities by June of 2007.