Out of Africa and Into the Poconos – Kalahari Brings an African Safari to Our Own Back Yard

Set to open in just a few days on July 1, 2015, you have to see it to believe it.  Kalahari Resorts and Conventions’ 100,000 square foot water park, 65,000 square feet convention center and 457 hotel rooms are impressive alight.  But if you look closely while at this gigantic resort, you will quickly see that the real WOW factor is in the attention to detail.  As an event planner, one of my most important jobs is to pay attention to details – and believe me I am sure I missed a few!

With top notch Food and Beverage, state-of-the-art Audio/Visual and staff that won’t miss a beat, it’s a meeting planner’s dream come true!  OK – I know what you are thinking –  “Aren’t there dozens of convention centers that offer top notch everything?”   Of course there are – but how many can say that they have a facility where folks actually WANT to go to a meeting vs. HAVE to go to a meeting?  How many convention centers can transport you to another continent in an environment that is exciting and full of life?  How many offer more than just “vanilla box” meeting rooms?   I have attended and planned hundreds of meetings and I can’t say that I have ever seen anything like this.  I mean c’mon – there’s even a waterpark attached!

Ceiling to floor and wall to wall, Kalahari truly depicts an authentic African theme that was carefully crafted by the Nelson family.  Inspired by their 23-day trip to Africa encompassing 24,700 miles and 6 countries, the Nelsons hand-selected much of the artwork and décor that adorns every inch of Kalahari.  They incorporate a myriad of aspects from African culture, even using wood and metals indigenous to the countries that they visited to sculpt everything from their own “Kalahari” signs to sculptures and more.  They go above and beyond to truly make it authentic and support the culture that inspired them.

From a giant 3-D mural featuring 35 birds and 200 butterflies to a hand-laid terrazzo floor depicting flamingoes, elephants, giraffes zebras and more  –  this is more than décor, this is more than sculptures and artwork.  This is truly a work of art – an authentic African masterpiece.  Even the designs on the walls are randomly “finger painted” to represent the uniqueness of the African culture and to remind us that nothing is perfect – but it still can be beautiful.

Among all of the fascinating authentic African adornments, the most impressive and meaningful representation of the Nelson family’s vision for the Kalahari Resorts is a massive 41 foot tree at the entrance to the convention center.  The tree was named “ndoto na kujenga” which is Swahili for “dream and create.”  It was hand-crafted from bronze, brass, copper, and stainless steel, and changes color as you marvel at it, only being able to imagine how the Nelsons could ever dream of and create something so spectacular.

The bottled waters are wrapped in a Kalahari label, the backs of the banquet chairs have the Kalahari Elephant carved into them, the lights are carved and crafted to represent the animals of Africa, a life size jungle of animals watches over the safari Jeep that sits atop Felix’s Bar (one of their many dining outlets).  But just as a reminder that we were actually still in Northeast Pennsylvania, Todd Nelson just had to point out one small detail that is authentic to the Poconos – he couldn’t resist including a few “heart-shaped tubs” in 4 of his guest rooms.

It’s no secret that this hidden gem in the Poconos will follow suit from Kalahari’s other two locations in Ohio and Wisconsin to produce a 20% increase in meeting attendance and 108% group block pick-up.  Over 80% of Kalahari’s business in Sandusky, Ohio is repeat business – and it’s easy to understand why!   With four Restaurants, a Candy and Ice Cream Shop, a Coffee Shop (with beans that were hand-picked from Rwanda and are roasted in-house), a Salon/Spa and – oh yes – the Waterpark – who wouldn’t want to come back again and again?  And you will need to come back to experience “Phase II” of Kalahari’s expansion which will double the size of the waterpark to make it the largest in the country, double the amount of hotel rooms, and include a few more surprises, I’m sure.

Kalahari has been working hard because they can’t wait to have folks begin staying and playing with them.  They are already taking reservations for groups from 10-100 or more guests from July 2015 to 2020 and beyond!  Can’t wait to visit?  Call 1-877-KALAHARI or visit KalahariResorts.com for more information or to make a reservation.

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