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Darien Lake launches meeting and conference center

Rochester Business Journal
April 11, 2013

A new meeting and conference center at Darien Lake Theme & Water Park Resort is aimed at promoting the venue as a work-and-play getaway.

The Genesee County-based Darien Lake recently opened a 2,000-square-foot facility in its Darien Square area that will allow people who do business there to have access to the amusement and water park entertainment.

“It’s really exciting,” said Dennis Kohl, director of accommodations for the park.

Darien Lake previously had a 20-person meeting room at its hotel, but the park did little to market it, he said.

Kohl said the idea for the larger conference center came about from customer comments. The venue plays host to some 400 company picnics and group outings annually and many of those attending had asked how they could better use the property.

“We were listening to their requests and made it happen,” Kohl said.

The conference and meeting center is targeted to hold 30 to 50 people during a business meeting, although the space could be reconfigured to hold as many as 70 people for events, such as wedding receptions and family reunions.

It is similar to a mid- to top-level meeting room, Kohl said, with conference-room furniture, audio visual equipment, speakers and new lighting.

He did not say how much of an investment Darien Lake made in renovating the space, but said it was included in the park’s capital expenditure plan this year.

The center has contracts pending in May, Kohl said. There has been interest from an undisclosed Rochester firm and another company that does business in both Rochester and Buffalo.

Darien Lake began marketing the conference center roughly four weeks ago and is targeting its core market: from Southern Ontario, Canada, to Syracuse. The target area is roughly a 90-minute to two-hour drive time from the resort.

For those using the facility, overnight packages are available. From January to May 10, when the park is closed, conference center and hotel rates start at $79 a person each night for a two-night stay, and the in-season pricing, from May 11 through October, starts at $175 a person each night for a two-night stay.

Packages can be individualized and can include team-building activities, such as a fudge-making class, ropes course and campfires at the on-site cabins.

The move is similar to effort to mix work and play at Holiday Valley ski resort in Ellicottville, Cattaraugus County. That resort—roughly two hours southwest of Rochester—unveiled in December a $12 million, 64,000-square-foot ski lodge that includes a year-round conference center.

Darien Lake, which opens its season May 11, is New York’s largest theme and water park resort. It is owned by the Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. The park employs more than 2,000 seasonal workers, as well as some 200 people year-round.
 
Roughly 1 million people visit the park each year, not including concert-goers.
 
In addition to the meeting and conference center, Darien Lake this season is introducing an upgrade to its Laser Blast show, a new tower thrill ride called Blast Off, which simulates a NASA launch, and more dining options. 

(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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