From white knuckle flume rides to tipping splash buckets and interactive aquatic toys… water provides the magic ingredient for happy children and in turn happy families.
With the fun factor at the top of visitor wish lists, it is vital for commercial pool operators to continuously not just meet but exceed demands for safe and fun aquatic play.
“Coupled with the sports and entertainment facilities, swimming pools and aquatic play areas are the biggest deciding factor for prospective owners joining the Haven family and guests visiting the Haven parks,” says Andy Bell, leisure support at Bourne Leisure.
“When a guest looks through a brochure they will be sure to look at the pool and changing facilities and as they hop from resort to resort they will always compare each pool facility. With this in mind, we take great care to ensure that our wet leisure facilities are not only well designed but also well maintained all year round.”
Pushing the boundaries in water play, Haven Holidays are renowned for their extensive range of aquatic facilities for adult and children alike.
From leisure pools with flumes and slides to all action destinations with intelligent water features, Haven has certainly mastered the art of wet leisure entertainment.
But as Andy explains, safety should always remain of paramount importance: “Developments will always pose problems and it’s hard to weigh up how fun a pool can be versus how easy it is to manage.
“At every stage of design it’s important to ensure lifeguards will be able to ensure maximum safety and that a completely safe environment is achieved at all times.”
Andy adds: “You can go as big or as small as you like, but ensure that you have parts of the pool or pool complex that are suited to all generations.”
While major swimming pool investment can sometimes be ruled out on the basis of budget, splash pads offer an attractive alternative.
Not only do they appeal to the child in all of us, but they also tap into today’s pressing issues of water conservation, parents’ heightened concerns for safety and the ongoing search for revenue and multipurpose usage.
Ustigate Waterplay provide the full range of Vortex equipment which includes more than 140 different water play jets and above ground sprays. Interactive polymer nozzles on many play items allow children to close off certain streams and redirect the water pressure elsewhere, making flowers spin faster, jets leap higher and buckets dump quicker.
“For parks that are in need of an infusion of new excitement, splash pads are an ideal solution,” says Ernie Hemming of Ustigate Waterplay. “From a pool to a splash pad, you’re saving on staffing and on water.”
He adds: “Everyone is trying to be more innovative with water conservation while also adding play value to make it more entertaining. Sequencing the water with on and off jets gives the illusion of using water all day, when in reality it’s actually conserving water and adding interactivity.”
Integral to the water savings of splash pads is the way in which they use water. Systems for the pads are either recirculated systems that use a filtration and chemical treatment or they are once used (water to waste). Once used systems are generally cheaper to maintain and operate, and are a popular choice for smaller sized pads. Recirculated systems incur more costs for staffing and maintenance but allow for more water features and are advisable for larger water play areas.
“Water conservation is a huge benefit. With a once used system, the water is collected in a grey-water tank and can be used for watering plants on the site, or even flushing toilets,” says Ernie. “On the whole we sell more once used systems, but when deciding on which system to go for it’s always best to take advice from the manufacturer,” he adds.
Making improvements to existing aquatic facilities, or starting from scratch on a new project can be a daunting task, so enlisting the help of an experienced and reputable company is essential. Choose a delivery partner that is right for you, one that combines both the design and build capabilities so that they can work with you from conception through to completion.
For those with more expensive tastes, retro-fitting is a breeze advises Steve Nelson, commercial manager at Certikin International.
“In most situations the only requirement is to lower the existing pool water level to allow small anchors to be installed in the pool floor.”
“This can be done at night so that the facility can open for business the following morning.
“All the interactive features we offer are very easy to install. There is no need for additional plumbing because most of the water features have built-in mechanical hand pumps that children operate manually. There’s also no need for buried pipework and costly electrical pumps as the features use the existing swimming pool water,” says Steve.
RWH are the UK distributor of Waterplay, the Canadian manufacturers of aquatic recreational play equipment. Over the past 25 years, Waterplay have installed more than 3,000 splash parks globally and their range consists of uniquely designed products for children of all ages and abilities.
“When we initially visit a site we identify the size of the area dedicated for water play and we look to produce a design that will incorporate an area of water play for the younger years and an area of water play more suitable for an older age group. This is paramount to our design as there are some children that will be more timid than others, and a good design will provide amicable play for all,” says Richard Harrison, chairman of RWH.
In terms of cost, supply only prices can vary from a few hundred pounds for basic ground sprays up to several thousand for a complete playground package. Richard advises: “The sky really is the limit in determining exactly how much you would like to spend and how adventurous you would like your water play area to be.
“A small water play area can be achieved for £50,000. A full turnkey solution for a splash pad of 230m² with a newly fitted recirculation system and an array of Waterplay’s products and a wetpour surface can be achieved for £140,000.”
Taking inspiration from their panel of ‘kid consultants’, water play specialists, Hippo Leisure, have been busy improving the wet play facilities at two holiday parks in the South West.
The indoor teaching pool at Haven Holiday Park in Burnham-on-Sea has been transformed into a highly interactive water play area aimed at increasing water confidence. A short mast supplies two interactive water channels with a flow of water which toddlers enjoy manipulating through the channels and back into the pool. The pool also includes large tipping buckets, water wheels and shark showers which are suspended above the pool on a span pipe, with high level water spraying, tipping and showering at regular intervals.
Teresa Metherell of Hippo Leisure says: “Working closely with children has contributed to the success of our product design and developments. Direct input and feedback from our kid consultants enables new product designs to consider the needs of all levels of ability and provide a complete family play scenario.
“Keeping the whole family entertained is key and this can be achieved by installing a variety of play features that provide both low level play for toddlers as well as high level anticipatory and big splash play for older children and even adults,” says Teresa.
Lady’s Mile Holiday Park in Devon has also increased its family appeal with a Hippo Leisure wet play facility. The new splash pad features a variety of in ground jets, which spray and squirt water at intervals to allow children to experience different water effects. The splash pad is home to an interactive mast with four arms, providing a variety of surprise and anticipatory play.
Teresa adds: “In our experience, venues that invest in family friendly water play equipment that is designed to appeal to their customer base will not only increase their success in attracting new visitors but also maintain repeat custom.”
Marlieke Kuijs of Netherlands-based water play equipment manufacturer Aqua Drolics warns buyers to think carefully before shelling out: “The quality of the product is the most important aspect, but all too often the cheaper products aren’t built to last. The material has to be resistant due to scale, heat fluctuation, UV radiation and be sure to choose a product that comes with a guarantee of at least 20 years.”
Aqua Drolics offer an extensive range of water play equipment, with more than 200 products to choose from. Easily integrated into existing pools, all Aqua Drolics products are made from fibreglass and are built in accordance with the European Standards and DIN norms.
Marlieke adds: “You don’t have to go overboard on the design of a water playground. The addition of just a single product will improve a child’s play experience hugely. “Our custom-build service is popular among many leisure operators, as it allows them to design their own water play objects. Mascots and logos are particularly popular and make a great addition to a pool area.”
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