$4 MILLION in annual revenue from Kalahari. Prior to the pandemic, the city of Round Rock initially projected that it would earn
opportunities are serving as a rare novelty as the hospitality industry has borne the brunt of the pandemic. “What we found is that because the economy shrank with the number of available jobs, we were able to pick up a lot of really great people and help them out,” Arnold said. “And they’re able to help us and keep us on course.” Kalahari’s Round Rock resort is the company’s fourth in the nation and earned the title of the largest indoor water park in the country. As the company has navigated its tran- sition down south and weathered the coronavi- rus outbreak, Arnold said Kalahari’s part- nership with on track with its original projections. “Round Rock has just been an amazing city to do business in, even throughout this crisis,” Arnold said. “They have been supportive and they have been very open to communi- cate everything as it was happening.” Enacting safety provisions Round Rock is a testament to its ability to open Kalahari features an indoor and outdoor water park and adventure space, a hotel, a convention center, and dining and retail destinations. All site amenities will be available for area residents to use Nov. 12, except for hotel pools, Arnold said. The hotel pools’ uses are limited to
individuals with hotel reservations. The largest balancing act during the pandemic, he said has been reimagining how to accommodate the resort’s oerings to social dis- tancing and safety provisions while maintaining the spirit of the Kala- hari experience. While Arnold said enforcing these measures for sta has been relatively easy, he credited the work of Kalahari’s employees in upholding these provisions for guests and ensuring they are followed. The use of masks will be required of sta and visitors throughout the
The outdoor portion of Kalahari’s water park features slides, a lazy river and a swim-up bar, among other amenities. (Courtesy Kalahari Resorts & Conventions)
Morgan said the city is “conserva- tively” estimating it will not collect its projected $4 million in annual rev- enue until 2022 or 2023, depending on the length of the public health crisis. “I’m not counting on any of that [revenue] in this rst year because of what’s happened with the pandemic,” Morgan said. “But [Kalahari’s] other sites seem to be working well. Like anything else, we’ll just have to wait and see.” In looking at the short term, Ball said the emergence of Kalahari as a top city employer is an exciting new asset that could help with eorts to establish Round Rock as a destina- tion city. However, he said he would be remiss to not address the his- torical impact that companies like Dell have had on laying the ground- work for future economic growth. “It’s a self-sustaining ecosys- tem,” Ball said. “Once it starts, it really starts to get its own momen- tum and inertia that just contin- ues to build. And here we are, three decades down the road, and we’re still seeing the benet from that.”
200,000-square-foot indoor space— will still be able to host weddings, company events and other celebra- tions through the use of more dis- tanced layouts. A Thanksgiving Day buet, set to be held in the conven- tion center, is selling out at a pace far more rapid than anticipated, Arnold said. Making its mark Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the city of Round Rock antici- pated earning approximately $4 million annually in revenue related to Kalahari, said Susan Morgan, the city’s chief nancial ocer. Multifamily and commercial prop- erties, such as Kalahari, contribute around 45% of the city’s property tax revenue stream, which eases some of the nancial burden for home- owners, Morgan said. Property taxes, which are collected from businesses and homeowners, are used to cover general city operation costs, such as those for roads, police and city facil- ities, including libraries and parks. Taking into account the nan- cial implications of the pandemic,
“I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANYDOUBT THAT KALAHARI HAS BEENABLE TO SWOOP INANDPROVIDE SOME OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME FAMILIES THAT OTHERWISE
WOULDHAVE BEENHURTINGRIGHT NOW.” JASON BALL, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF ROUND ROCK CHAMBER
entire resort, Arnold said, except for when guests are dining, in their hotel rooms, swimming in pools or using water slides. Kalahari overhauled and revamped its cleaning and sanitation protocols in June to switch to hospi- tal-grade disinfectants, Arnold said. Despite the work of making addi- tional sanitation provisions, Arnold said implementing social distancing measures have been more manage- able than one might anticipate given the 1.5 million square feet available within the resort. Between higher occupancy allowances in Texas and an uptick in travelers, Arnold said the resort’s convention center—a
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