With the largest indoor waterpark in the United States and the third largest convention center in the state (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively), it’s safe to say that Kalahari Resort has been eagerly anticipated. It was a massive undertaking and one that, according to owner Todd Nelson, was expected to take at least five years. Instead, they finished in three and created 1,000 jobs along the way.
Nelson opened the resort on July 1 to an enthusiastic crowd that came to see a little bit of Africa in the Pocono Mountains. Kalahari Resort is the brainchild of Nelson, a hardworking Midwesterner who took an idea for an indoor waterpark and transformed it into a leading resort brand. The Pocono property is Nelson’s third Kalahari (the other two are in Wisconsin and Ohio). Nelson and his family—all of his children are employed in the family business—felt the Poconos region was a perfect destination because of its proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia.
Located down the road from The Inn at Pocono Manor (now managed by Kalahari), the resort brings an authentic taste of Africa with hand-carved tables and benches, ceremonial headdresses, photographs of spectacular natural wonders and giant bronze sculptures of Africa’s Big Five. It’s truly a place where you can’t look at all of the details in one glance. “You might not be able to get to Africa, but you can come here,” says Nelson.
The resort has 457 rooms and suites, a variety of restaurants, as well as a luxurious spa. Of course, the two biggest attractions put work and play under one roof. There is a 100,000-square-foot waterpark ideal for families and 65,000 square feet of meeting space. Phase two has already broken ground and the resort plans for an additional 100,000 square feet in the waterpark and additional guest rooms (making it a 1,000-room resort). It’s quite simply the biggest thing to hit the Poconos and Pennsylvania in years.