August 13, 2005
Gorge Games founder Peggy Lalor is searching for waterfront space in Hood River or The Dalles for a $50 million, 250-room water adventure resort.
The resort could open two years from now, Lalor said. The Hood River Port Commission will discuss her proposal at a 6 p.m. work session Tuesday in the Expo Center conference room.
The Mosier resident brought two of her partners to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center on Wednesday to discuss plans for the first Xventure Resort, to be sited in the Gorge.
The development partners are seeking land proposals from port authorities in The Dalles and Hood River, as well as Northwest Aluminum.
“It would be the first of its kind and something we would like to see placed all over the world to show that physical activity and healthy food can be really cool,” Lalor told a group of about 100 people gathered at the Murdock Theater.
Lalor envisions it attracting not only sports enthusiasts, but family vacationers and business people for retreats and conferences.
Among the activities planned within a 40,000-square-foot indoor action park and a 5-acre outdoor park are a surfable wave, water slides, kiteboard and windsurfing simulators, rock climbing, kayaking, ropes course and zip line, a BMX track, skateboard park, ice skating rink, go karts and slick track, batting cages and other activities.
The resort is expected to employ some 350 workers in lodging, restaurant, retain, attraction and other positions, with salaries ranging from minimum wage to $80,000 for the general manager.
Eventually, the partners hope to site similar resorts all over the world. Their proposal lists prospective sites listed in a variety of U.S. states and Canada, as well as Greece, Austria, Egypt, Russia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and other countries.
Lalor has gathered a development team that includes Bruce Dalen, president and chief executive of Amusement Leisure Worldwide Ltd., a Canada-based company with 25 years of worldwide water park experience.
“Peg originally thought to build a water park somewhere in the Gorge because of the weather,” Dalen said.
The United States has some 600 water parks, Dalen noted, and the latest trend is to combine water parks with hotels. The move has proven to increase occupancy and rates.
With that in mind, the partners took the idea a step farther: A destination resort with both water activities and adventure sports, set in a safe, controlled environment.
“We decided the Gorge would actually be the perfect place to do this,” Dalen said, citing the area’s worldwide recreation reputation.
Other partners include Holloway Investments Inc., which will be the developer of the hotel and resort components; Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc., which will provide management; and Commercial Debt Finance, Inc., which will structure the financing package.
The group is currently considering three possible locations for the resort: the former Mt. Fir Chip Mill site (which is the subject of pending options by Google), 65 acres of Northwest Aluminum property east and north of the Chenoweth Interchange, and Port of Hood River property near the Expo Center on the waterfront.
The various property owners are asked to develop proposals that demonstrate the potential for community support and outline issues that could affect the development such as infrastructure and utility requirements, environmental issues, tax incentives and green development rewards.
Lalor is well-known in the Hood River and Gorge windsurfing community, but the Canada native’s time here has not been without controversy. While she established the Gorge Games in 1996, she was also at the helm during its demise in 2004.
Lalor also served as a port commissioner in Hood River, but resigned and was ultimately sentenced for felony election fraud after falsifying her candidate’s disclosure information, for which she was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
On the Net: www.xventures.com