Splash down! Kalahari Resorts and Conventions opens in Round Rock







The Round Rock City Council helped celebrate the Thursday, Nov. 12, opening for Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Round Rock, the new home of America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark Resort with 223,000 square feet of wet and wild fun. The all-under-one-roof experience offers world-class dining, a luxurious spa, live entertainment, diverse shopping experiences, a thrilling indoor theme park and a state-of-the-art convention center. The Round Rock resort is Kalahari’s fourth property and the brand’s first foray into Texas and the Southwest market. The new resort created approximately 1,000 jobs in 2020 and expects to hire additional associates as demand grows in 2021.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, so it was the perfect place for our largest and most luxurious resort yet,” said Todd Nelson, owner of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions. “We’re proud to be able to open the Round Rock location as scheduled despite what a challenging year it’s been for everyone. The $550 million resort brings much needed tourism dollars and hospitality jobs to the area and offers a welcome getaway for locals and travelers.”

Said Mayor Craig Morgan: “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to help open this amazing resort and waterpark. We couldn’t ask for a better boost for our economy right now or for an experience that’s more fun for visitors and residents alike.”

Kalahari announced in June 2016 its intention to build in Round Rock, and the City engaged in a nearly two-year public engagement process as the project and economic incentives were under consideration by the City Council. You can access our archive of project web pages here. [Note: links in document have been disabled.]

To celebrate the grand opening, Kalahari welcomed Grammy-nominated singer, actress and mom, Jordin Sparks to be one of the resort’s first guests.

“I’m a thrill-seeker for sure, and waterslides are a lot of fun. Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos was my family’s favorite getaway last year, so I’m excited to have a Kalahari Resort option closer to home,” Sparks said. “Now more than ever, it’s essential to find safe ways to have fun, destress and create memories.”

The new resort boasts 975 guest rooms, 30 waterslides, 20 pools and whirlpools, three acres of outdoor pools, a world-class spa and salon and 20 on-site dining options, including four signature full service restaurants, in addition to Tom Foolerys Adventure Park with thrill rides, zip lines, climbing walls, mini golf, bowling, laser tag and more.

Health and Safety

Health and safety is a resort priority, and as a family-owned and operated business, Kalahari Resorts works hard to do what is best for both guests and associates. The resort will adhere to all local and state public health and safety regulations, including guidelines for masks and social distancing. With 1.5 million square feet, Kalahari offers plenty of room for guests to spread out. Occupancy at the resort will be limited for amenities and attractions, including restaurants, in accordance with local rules and regulations. 

The resort is taking several steps to ensure health and safety, including associate wellness initiatives, including self-assessments and temperature checks for associates, enhanced sanitation with hospital-grade disinfectants and new operational procedures that allow for social distancing and minimized contact. The resort will also have a Wellness Concierge to monitor and communicate safety initiatives to guests. For reassurance, according to the CDC, proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection with chlorine and bromine should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Authentically-African with a Texas Spirit

Kalahari Resorts are authentically African themed, and the Round Rock resort features a one-of-a-kind modern African design with a local Texas spirit. The resorts were inspired by a Nelson family trip to Africa more than 20 years ago, and the family traveled to South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania to hand-select 1,000 pieces of African art, sculpture, furniture and retail items for the Round Rock resort. This $600,000 art investment is part of an ongoing brand commitment to the people, places and cultures that inspire the resorts. To date, Kalahari Resorts has invested more than $5.5 million in the purchase of African art, textiles and more to support African artists, craftspeople and entrepreneurs.

Kalahari Round Rock will also highlight local partnerships with food and beverage, retail brands, musicians, artists and makers for a resort experience that combines the best of Africa with the best of Texas.

Reservations are now open at kalahariresorts.com/roundrock.

Economic Development Agreement

The Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center will be a significant source of new jobs and revenue to the City of Round Rock, which partnered with the private company to locate its fourth facility here. Its proximity to Old Settlers Park and Dell Diamond – two well-established venues that together draw more than a million visitors annually – bodes well for a successful, tourism-oriented development. 

Kalahari announced in June 2016 its intention to build in Round Rock, and the City engaged in a nearly two-year public engagement process as the project and economic incentives were under consideration by the City Council. You can access our archive of project web pages here. [Note: links in document have been disabled.]

The incentive agreements call for Kalahari to employ a minimum of 700 and invest at least $350 million in a 975-room resort, 200,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor water park and 150,000-square-foot convention center. The City owns the 351-acre tract of land, which is leased to Kalahari for up to 99 years. The City has issued bonds to provide $40 million in net proceeds to construct the City-owned Convention Center, and $30 million to construct city-owned infrastructure improvements. After the debt payments on the bonds are made each year, the City and Kalahari will share remaining select State and City tax revenues. The City expects to receive $4 million a year in new tax revenue after debt and incentive payments are made for years 1 through 10 of the agreement.

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