Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Opens Waterpark Property

Tish Leizens
7/20/12

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe has added another major destination in Mid Michigan with the recent opening of its Soaring Eagle Waterpark and Hotel.

The property, all of 110,000 square feet, boasts of several family-friendly amenities including the 45,000 square feet Waterpark, a 243-hotel guest room, an 18-hole golf course and pro shop, an RV park, arcade and dining facilities.

“Our tribal community realized some time ago that we had to create that mid Michigan environment to remain competitive in the marketplace,” said Chief Dennis V. Kequom, Sr. during the ribbon cutting ceremony in May.

The Tribe, which already owns several tourism properties including the nearby Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, had said it wanted to diversify its investments. The opening of the Waterpark was a big step in that direction.

“This project has been a celebration of our tribal community’s ability to reinvent, adjust and prepare for an uncertain future,” said Kequom.

“Today we stand as one of the most unique entertainment venues with something to offer every individual—whether they be the concert and events patron, the conventioneer, the gamer or the family that vacations together,” said Kequom.

The new Resort competes with other Michigan attractions. such as the Great Wolfe Lodge in Traverse City, which is two and half hours north of its property and Splash Village in Frakenmuth.

“One thing is we are centrally located in Michigan. We are a quick trip. We show our native history and culture, which is interesting. A lot of people learned something on their vacation,” said Jennifer Jones, marketing manager of the property.

She said that since the grand opening on May 21, they have been pleased with the public’s response. “June was a slow month for the hospitality business due to graduation and wedding but in July we picked up very well.”

The indoor Waterpark, she said, is open all year-round and has an attraction for every age. A popular spot is the FlowRider where guests—not for the faint of heart—get the chance to tame the waves though body boarding or standing.

Jones said that kids as well as adults like to try the FlowRider as it is not a common attraction in the area.

For a more relax diversion, guests can take a lazy river ride with a float. Other activities include rock-climbing wall on Makwa’s Mountain, tube slide in Loon’s Loop and body slide on Otter’s Run. For adults, an oversized kidney-shaped hot tub is an option.

“Waterpark safety is a top priority,” said Jones who said they have licensed lifeguards on the premise for 24 hours.

Waterpark passes are included in the hotel room bookings, which for a family of four has an average Sunday through Thursday rate of $157 a night and $177 during Friday and Saturday. The hotel, with over 40 room type classifications, also offers free shuttle bus services to all of the Tribe’s properties.

Another priority of Soaring Eagle management is a clean green environment. Jones said they encourage guests to work with them and be environmentally conscious. For instance, guest towels and linens can be reused to conserve water. The property also uses motion sensors for lighting and temperature to conserve energy.

“It is important to Native American culture to do what we can do to protect mother earth,” said Jones, adding that the Tribe has a department that takes care of recycling, wind energy and other environmental concerns.

There is a conscious effort in the Soaring Eagle Waterpark to incorporate the culture of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. American Indian names are used in some of the areas in the property: Nbakade (I’m Hungry Restaurant), offers a family-friendly menu; Wiisinidaa (Let Us Eat) Food Court, located inside the Park sells burgers, chicken tenders, hot dog and ice cream; and Adaawewinini Waabooyaan (Trader’s Blanket) is a gift shop for souvenirs.

With the use of Animatronics, guests are treated at the hotel lobby where Nokomis (Grandmother) tells American Indian stories. Animatronics is also used in the Waterpark where Mother Eagle calls her babies. The call is a signal that the giant bucket in Blish Falls is about to tip.

Jones said the native feel can also be glimpsed in the stone and wood exterior used in the hotel, similar to the casino, as well as the appearance of the Tribe’s symbol and other native elements and themes used in the lobby and other rooms.

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