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Kalahari adds oasis for adults

Matt_Roche • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:45 PM

The work never stops at Kalahari, or so it seems.

The indoor waterpark resort and convention center, located on U.S. 250 in Perkins Township about nine miles north of Huron County, has unveiled its latest attraction an adult-oriented bar in the outdoor park.

The cleverly-named Zanzi-Bar (a takeoff on Zanzibar an archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa) features a large cement bar created in the shape of the continent of Africa.

Zanzi-Bar, which opened last Saturday, seats 200. It is available for resort guests, as well as people who purchase waterpark day passes. At this point Kalahari does not plan to open the bar to the general public.

Kalahari worked with local designers to create a large hut that contains the bar, eight 50-inch flat screen televisions, a built-in DJ booth and three island bars.

The decorative accents include fossil-style floors, a bar top that resembles the cracked red clay of the desert, African-themed columns and a thatched roof with eucalyptus poles imported from South Africa. Comfortable chairs replace traditional stools along the bar. On hot days, patrons will be sprayed with a light mist while entering or exiting the open-air hut.

Designer Steve Pine said his goal was to create an African atmosphere while "staying clear of any religious or political connotations."

Lining Zanzi-Bar are additional tables and chairs, fake palm trees and various African touches, including a large wooden elephant head in a flower bed and imitation animal tracks in the red-clay-colored cement.

The tremendous attention to detail helps "give the place a little culture," according to Pine, Kalahari's director of development and the mastermind behind the impressive collection of African art dispersed throughout the resort including guest rooms.

Culture is only part of the plan for Zanzi-Bar. Kalahari officials are hoping to create a fun environment in and around the bar.

To achieve that goal, Zanzi-Bar will employ an activities director who will encourage patrons to participate in limbo contests, hula hoop dances, shuffle board and sand volleyball, among other games, according to Joseph Haas, the chief operations officer. "Feel-good music" will be played, Haas added.

Zanzi-Bar is just part of the newly expanded outdoor waterpark, which opened for the season last Saturday. Kalahari also installed a children's interactive tree fortress pool with slides, geysers, trees and animals and created private bungalows with flat screen TVs, iPod docks, refrigerators, fans and telephones.

Kalahari also spent $40,000 to bring in special sand for the four volleyball courts, Haas said, with the hope that the resort will be added to the professional two-man circuit.

It's all part of the "wow" factor Haas hopes to achieve as part of Kalahari's new slogan, "Beyond."

While the bar is finished, construction continues at the resort.

In late December, Kalahari plans to expand its existing 80,000-square-foot indoor waterpark to create a 173,000-square-foot indoor aquatic playground the largest of its kind in the United States.

Kalahari became Ohio's largest indoor waterpark when it opened the $120 million facility in May 2005. A series of expansions on the 141-acre site followed, including the outdoor waterpark last summer, condominiums and the $19 million NIA Center conference facility in the fall.

The indoor waterpark expansion and the addition of 96 more condominiums will cost more than $50 million, owner Todd Nelson said.

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