Wilderness Resort: Gets Approval to Build Convention Center Hotel in Tennessee

Heidi Fendos, PR Counsel
(414) 778-0766 or [email protected]

Sevierville, TN — The Sevierville Planning Commission has approved plans for the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort to build a 264-room six-story hotel which will be connected to the Sevierville Events Center in Sevierville, TN. The preliminary plans for the facility include an indoor waterpark, outdoor waterpark and business center.

This is the first out-of-state development for the Dells-based hotelier, which has been investigating expanding to other locations around the United States.

According to Pete Helland, co-owner of Wilderness Resort, LLC, “My family is excited about the possibility expanding our successful resort business in Sevierville. The community and its friendly residents remind us of the Wisconsin Dells, and we would welcome the opportunity to help Sevierville increase its tourism presence in the South.”

In 1995, cousins Tom Lucke and Pete Helland opened the Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort in Wisconsin Dells, and introduced a new concept – the indoor waterpark. It was so successful that other waterpark resorts quickly followed.

Ten years later, according to the 2005 Hotel Waterpark Industry Report (http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2005_4th/Oct05_HotelWaterParkReport.html), the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort is America’s largest waterpark resort. It is also one of the nation’s most successful family vacation destinations. It has grown from 75 rooms to 443, and from having one 30,000 square foot indoor waterpark to having over 7 football fields of indoor and outdoor waterpark fun which house some of the most innovative attractions in the US.

In October, resort officials unveiled plans for a $150 million expansion to their Dells’ property. It will include the development of the new Glacier Canyon Lodge and Banquet Center, which consists of a variety of 2-key and 3-key fully-furnished units; a Foil Tec enclosed waterpark where guests can tan year-round; a new 18-hole championship golf course; and the expansion of locally renowned Field Brothers’ themed restaurants concept.

The Wilderness’ innovative business has tremendously impacted the Dells tourism region. The number of tourists staying at hotels, motels or resorts in the Dells has increased dramatically from 1 million spending $275 million annually in 1994 to nearly 2 million visitors spending $840 million annually.

In addition, the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau (WDVCB) annual budget, generated from room tax revenue, has grown from $1.6 million to approximately $5.8 million. The Dells region has become a year-round destination as a result of this waterpark concept, and it is now hailed as the Waterpark Capital of the World, with nearly 22,000 jobs in this region directly tied to tourism.

While the numbers are staggering, they are also a true testament to the success of the waterpark industry and to the fact that the Wilderness Resort has been a major catalyst for change and growth in the Dells’ region.

For more information on the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort visit www.wildernessresort.com or call 1.800.867.WILD.