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$165M resort expansion project includes plans to hire 600

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A tour of the $165 million second phase of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions project in Tobyhanna Township.
A tour of the $165 million second phase of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions project in Tobyhanna Township. - (Photo / )
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By March, visitors to the Pocono Mountains newest tourist attraction will find hundreds more hotel rooms, thousands of square feet in new entertainment space and an expanded indoor waterpark.

Those developments, in addition to two new restaurants and a new retail market and fitness center, are all part of the $165 million second phase of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions project.

The first part of the Tobyhanna Township resort project opened in July 2015 and since then has been drawing thousands of guests while adding hundreds of new jobs in the tourism market. All told, the resort plans to hire 600 new employees for its second phase, which will be for both full- and part-time positions, said Todd Nelson, owner of Wisconsin-based Kalahari Resorts.

The resort is hiring now for these jobs, an initiative that represents a 67 percent increase over the amount of employees it currently has, which is about 900.

With the second phase about to open in 90 days, the resort has been an economic boom for Monroe County, Nelsons said.

“Business has been really good,” he said. “We took a little risk because we started phase II in April and opened phase I up in July [2015]. It’s been really well-received.”

The second phase includes a 220,000-square-foot indoor waterpark with eight new slides, a wave pool, an expansion of the Lazy River, a children’s play area and an additional swim-up bar for adults.

The project will add 520 rooms, expanding the resort’s hotel to nearly 1,000 rooms, Nelson said.

The resort will introduce two new styles of bigger suites which include multiple bedrooms to accommodate larger groups of guests.

Dining options include the addition of Double Cut Charcoal Grill/Liquor Bar, a steakhouse and seafood restaurant with an in-depth wine list, wine cellar and new fireplaces, Nelson said.

Sortino’s Italian Kitchen will open above Double Cut and feature old-school and modern Italian cuisine, including wood-fired pizza, pasta dishes and wines.

Meanwhile, a new retail shop, Marrakesh Market, is set to open Dec. 15, he said. It will replicate an authentic African bazaar-style shopping experience with a variety of gift items.

Kalahari will open its second fitness center in phase II, to be operated by Brant Bailey, former pro basketball player and a personal trainer at the resort. The new center will include space for a mix of workouts that include CrossFit, bodybuilding and yoga, Nelson said.

Both restaurants are expected to open in March, along with the hotel, fitness center and indoor waterpark.

The company is using Wisconsin-based Kraemer Brothers Construction as the general contractor, the same firm it used for the first phase, which broke ground in October 2013, Nelson said.

The family owned and operated company, which owns Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Sandusky, Ohio, makes all its own metal work and signs, except for digital signs, he added. His family members are also involved in operating the company, including everything from planning the designs to creating the retail options.

A 3-D model the company created at the resort offers guests a glimpse of what the second phase will look like upon completion.

“It’s going to be a magnificent park,” Nelson said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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