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Local News / Entertainment

Saturday, 10 May, 2014 0:30 AM

$20-million renovation underway at Zehnder's Splash Village in Frankenmuth

Photo credit: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

The new glass atrium is nearly complete at Zehnder's Splash Village.


by Jason Rzucidlo



FRANKENMUTH, Mich. -- Zehnder’s is in the middle of a $20 million expansion project at its Splash Village hotel and indoor waterpark. The project adds 30,000 square feet to the water park and adds 32 new hotel rooms. When complete, it will be only one of five in the nation to have a retractable roof.
Zehnder’s paid the initial $4 million to get the project started. Then, FirstMerit Bank provided a loan of $5 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Finally, additional lenders offered $11 million for the total package of $20 million.

“We’re looking at a late-summer opening,“ said John Shelton, vice president of sales and marketing at Zehnder’s. “Things are progressing very well. We’re a little bit behind schedule. Unfortunately, we had such a harsh winter that we all came to remember. I think it’s going to add a new dimension for our customers. It’s really geared towards the teenager and above market. The current waterpark was designed for the toddler to 13-year-old. It now allows us to reach a new demographic agewise.”

The structure is made up of all glass with a retractable roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather.

“We’re more than half way through,” he added. “A lot of things are getting done. As a matter of fact, I had the chance to do a hard hat tour. The tower is complete—in fact, that’s 60 feet from the platform. Two rides—one’s called the Tantrum will be in place by the end of this week. On the other side of the tower is a ride called the Super Loop, which they will start putting in pretty soon. We should have the entire building enclosed by late to the end of this month. Then, we start getting into adding the pools, all of the indoor amenities.”

What’s going to be available at the concession area? Can folks expect to order Zehnder’s famous chicken there?

“We just did a survey and had about 1,400 responses back from it. We’re just trying to get a feel of some things that the market might want to look at. There will be a lot of healthy choices—vegetarian offerings and gluten free. Just like our current food and beverage service, you’re going to have pizza, french fries and burgers. We’re also looking at more healthy options like salads. We’re not going to compete against ourselves. We fully believe that our customers are looking to come over to our restaurant and enjoy the family-style chicken dinner.”

Is there a shuttle that takes people back and forth between Splash Village and Zehnder’s Restaurant?

“Yes, we have a complimentary shuttle that’s available daily, through our summer season and every weekend and if we have groups,” Shelton explained. “We schedule based on the needs of the guests. It really makes a loop from Zehnder’s Splash Village and goes to our golf course, The Fortress, and it goes to our restaurant. If somebody has a special need where they need to be taken, we’re willing to do that as well.”

Many people are probably wondering…will the prices be going up after the renovations here?

“I’m going to say yes, but not significantly,” the vice president of sales and marketing said. “We’re looking at $10-$20 on certain price points. I think the waterpark day passes are going up $3. Literally, a very nominal increase based on what we’re adding to the experience. I’m very confident that we’re still going to be very, very affordable. When we first introduced the project, a lot of people thought since we were doubling the size of the waterpark, that rates might double. That is not the case at all. Right now, on a Saturday during our peak time, we’re quoting rates of $199 and up.”

Once the project is totally complete, how would someone request one of the new rooms?

“Out of the 32 rooms, 16 of those rooms will have a floor to ceiling glass that looks directly into the waterpark. We’re in the process of naming those rooms. We just started entering that information into our computer. We’ll be able to distinguish for the guest that name and if that something they’d be interested in, we’d be more than happy to accommodate them.”

What is planned for Mother’s Day up there in Frankenmuth?

“Mother’s Day is always one of our busiest times,” Shelton added. “We will serve anywhere from 4,500 to over 5,000 guests on Mother’s Day. We have a little gift that we give to each mom. Reservations are still available. We highly encourage folks to please consider us. We’d love to have them as our guests. We also have a Mom & Me Look-a-Like Contest through our social media on That individual wins a package at Splash Village.”

Fun Fact: Zehnder’s Restaurant opened for business on Mother’s Day in 1929. A total of 312 guests were served on that day.

For more information about Zehnder’s Splash Village, visit To view the Mother’s Day menus at Zehnder’s Restaurant, visit

Related Stories: Zehnder's Snowfest returns for 23rd year, Jan. 22 - 27, in Frankenmuth, Mich.; Detroit Tigers caravan to make a stop at the 2013 Zehnder's Snowfest; 21st Annual Zehnder's Snowfest Schedule of Events; The 2011 Zehnder's Snowfest wraps up today in Frankenmuth


Photo credit: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

A view from the top of the slide


Photo credit: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

Some parts of the building are still under construction


Photo credit: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

Overview of the renovation project


Photo credit: Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

View from the glass atrium looking out


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