The Americana Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara Falls, Ontario is a premier resort catering to vacationing families and corporate clients.
They were embarking on a major renovation that included a water park at- traction that would help them stand out in a crowded, competitive market- place. Their goal: increase occupancy and rates by turning the resort into a destination in itself. A traditional water park was not an option for them due to weather limitations; what they wanted was an enclosed option that could keep guests happy year-round.
Jim DiBellonia, owner of the Americana, looked at a number of options for the water park enclosure. But what really won him over was OpenAire’s ability to provide his guests with the best of both worlds; an enclosed facility that could be used in the winter and in inclement weather, with a retractable roof that could easily turn it into an appealing outdoor attraction on sunny summer days.
OpenAire’s professional design team worked closely with project partners WhiteWater West Industries and the Aquatic Development Group to en- sure the OpenAire enclosure would truly complement DiBellonia’s overall vision. The resulting structure is an expansive 144’ long with a 131’ span, with a height that incorporates a number of unique water features. The enclosure is made up of an attractive combination of aluminum, glass, and polycarbonate. Built with OpenAire’s exclusive thermally broken aluminum framing system, the structure is maintenance-free; unlike steel, it isn’t affected by the caustic chlorine environment, and doesn’t require repainting or replacement.
OpenAire’s custom-design expertise made it possible to accommodate a 28-foot-high slide platform by creating a dormer over the slide area. But the most spectacular feature is the operable roof, which has sliding panels that can be controlled by the touch of a button. On a sunny day, the panels open up almost 50% of the roof area.
The completed structure is beautiful, fresh and invitingly sunny. Guests love it; despite a number of issues that have decreased tourism to the area (passport requirements, the strength of the Canadian dol- lar), occupancy and room rates have both increased dra- matically. And even though it is no longer the only hotel in Niagara with an indoor water park, it is still the only one with a roof that opens, which makes it a unique draw for visitors.
The operable roof also means patrons and staff aren’t exposed to a caustic chemical environment that can make them sick. With an open roof and side walls, natural air flows through improving air flow and circulation.
DiBellonia is impressed with the long-term savings that are being realized by this remark- ably maintenance-free structure. It never needs to be paint- ed, and the aluminum doesn’t corrode. The air handling system is only used for about six months out of the year, and the 64 400-watt light fixtures are hardly ever turned on. In the winter, the sun provides passive heat gain, saving on heating costs. Plus, the aesthetics of the structure allowed Americana to save on theme and décor features; with the beauty of the OpenAire enclosure, they simply weren’t necessary.
"The atmosphere of a traditional brick-and-mortar structure doesn’t hold a candle to the OpenAire enclosure,” he says. “The natural light and air offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience for our guests. It’s a fantastic way of attracting people to the resort, and it’s economical, too. The solar gain achieved throughout the spring, summer and early fall months enables minimum use of our lighting and HVAC systems. The sun and fresh air do the work instead – for free. Why would anyone not want to build a water park like this?"
Today, the Americana is one of the most successful hotels in the Niagara region.