MONTICELLO, NY—Known for its legacy of resorts and year-round leisure, New York’s Catskills has gained something new and fun—a waterpark. The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark is ready to help the area to recapture its standing as a must-see destination.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, the Catskills was a popular destination. It’s kind of fell off the map, so to speak,” said David Kohlasch, GM, The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, which is touted as the state’s largest water park. “Today, there’s more to see as there’s a whole revitalization happening from a hospitality perspective with Legoland New York, Resorts World Catskills and The Kartrite opening here.”
Ken Ellis and Arthur Berry III, co-owners of the Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, are behind the $150-million-plus project, which offers up two acres of indoor water park space and a luxury hotel with 324 guest suites. Benchmark is the management company charged with the delivery of an exceptional day-to-day experience.
With super-size amenities in place, Kohlasch is keenly focused on the resort’s team of 500 associates, who are ready to create a fun and memorable experience to ensure repeat visitors.
“In the water park alone, we have nearly 100 lifeguards to keep it going,” he said. “From the housekeeping teams to the front-desk staff, it’s a big operation and our focus, from a customer service perspective, is the external guest. A big differentiator for Benchmark is, as the management company, a big part of our culture is the employees and creating a family-focused environment. We cultivate respect and we challenge people to go above and beyond. We talk about what they can do every day to make a positive experience. Simple things go a long way.”
According to Kohlasch, creating a positive environment for the staff also matters—and it’s critical to the retention of labor in the Catskills.
“The Catskills is not a highly populated area. Every employee we hire is for attitude, and the experience part will come,” he said. “If they have a heart and a smile and resiliency, we can teach the rest. We do everything in our power to keep people.”
Open since mid-April, guests are treated to modern visuals that are not often seen in resorts in the Catskills. “The design intent was for the property to be cheeky and playful, not a lodge-type environment like our competitors. We didn’t want all that,” said Kohlasch. “It’s bright, clean and fun. A lot of the colors fit into the environment. When you come inside, everywhere you look there’s a view of the outdoors. Whether it’s inside the lobby or the water park, we are taking advantage of the surroundings.”
Among the highlights is a large transparent roof above the Kartrite’s water park, featuring Teflon materials and allowing for 75% of the sun’s rays to come through the roof. “You get the feeling you’re in this nice outdoor, aquatic area. You don’t feel like you’re indoors at all,” he said. Elsewhere, there’s an outdoor garden plaza, playground and firepits.
Kohlasch has a message for new and returning visitors to the Catskills: “We’re back! If you haven’t heard about the Catskills in many years, we’re back on the map. Our journey is just beginning, but there’s a lot to do here at The Kartrite. It’s very exciting.”