In an effort to attract visitors to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ reservation in North Carolina year-round, tribal officials have presented plans to build a $93 million indoor water park, hotel and entertainment complex.
The facility would feature a 302-room hotel, restaurants, retail shops and an arcade. The venue would target a family audience.
The destination would round out the tribe’s other tourism offerings, among them: its successful Harrah’s Casino and Resort that draws a 21-and-over crowd. A spa and golf course lure the business class, and outdoor adventure seekers flock for the fly fishing and hiking. Museums and other cultural centers attract history buffs. Currently, more than 80 percent of visitors to the reservation are 45 and older, said the tribe.
In addition to catering to a diverse clientele from children to grandparents, the nature of the water park and hotel would encourage overnight stays.
The tribe expects to see profits within the first year—with a net cash flow of $1.9 million, increasing to $5.1 million by the fifth year of operation—and it doesn’t foresee the business as seasonal. “On a weekend in December, you may still be looking at 75 or 80 percent occupancy,” said the tribe’s Commerce Director Jason Lambert.
The new facility would create 300 permanent jobs.