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New York-based investment firm the Blackstone Group is preparing to invest more than $2.8 million this year in a new interactive water amenity at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes.

The hotel’s biggest outdoor amenities now are its large swimming pool and a 2 million-gallon lazy river that surrounds it. Now management has construction plans under review with Orange County for a new 6,860-square-foot interactive AquaCourse that would be built near the lazy river.

It’s a multi-age, harnessed attraction that allows all members of the family to choose their own path through a multi-level play structure, integrating water with a ropes course.

View of a participant on the Aquacourse at Alabama's Splash Adventure Waterpark, where he is hit with a bucket of water that is triggered by another participant.
View of a participant on the Aquacourse at Alabama’s Splash Adventure Waterpark, where he is hit with a bucket of water that is triggered by another participant.

Guests outside the course can target those on the ropes with water cannons, water jet triggers and more. Interchangeable segments provide the owner easy redesign opportunity over time to refresh the course experience.

“We want to stay out ahead of the curve of local (hospitality) leisure experiences and provide something that’s unique to market, and I think the AquaCourse is just that,” Thomas Petrillo, general manager for the JW Marriott Orlando, told GrowthSpotter. “This plays to kids of all ages but really hits the interest of teens, and gives them something to occupy their time while parents relax by the pool.”

Vancouver-based water parks attraction company WhiteWater is designing the new amenity, which is based off the company’s patented “AquaSplash” attraction that has been implemented at only one other location in the United States, Alabama’s Splash Adventure Waterpark.

Petrillo estimates the amenity to be built and open by September, pending permit approvals. Apopka-based Weller Pools is lead contractor on the project.

“We have a relationship with WhiteWater and we’d been looking at some other options, but this was an option they surfaced and we saw it was really unique and lent itself well to positioning on our resort,” Petrillo said. “You see on many (water amenities) people waiting in line for too long for a ride of just a few minutes at most. With this, there is almost no wait involved and you can move up to 300 people per hour through the attraction.”

Located at 4040 Central Florida Parkway, the JW Marriott is part of the 352-acre Grande Lakes Resort that includes the Ritz-Carlton Orlando hotel, both of which a Blackstone Group affiliate bought for $1.3 billion in 2015.

Blackstone also hired this month the Georgia-based hotel renovations contractor IDC Construction and local TLC Engineering to revamp the JW Marriott’s recreation game space.

An existing indoor space will be retrofitted to house many games now scattered around the property and pool area, Petrillo said. That will be coupled with a new outdoor multipurpose space.

The neighboring Ritz-Carlton Orlando at Grande Lakes had more than $6.6 million in renovation investments started last spring by Blackstone on the hotel’s lobby, lobby bar and lounge, terrace area and more.

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