There are some lovely lakefront strolls, some exciting waterpark walkways, striking beach ambles and impressive lodge promenades to saunter, but King's Pointe resort manager Jason Havey likes to trudge through the parking lot.
That's where he finds out if Storm Lake's great experiment in municipal resort development is working.
"We are beginning to see more and more cars with license plates from outside the area, and that is encouraging," he said this week.
At the hotel, plates represent a 100-150-mile radius. They can commonly be seen from the Sioux City and even the Sioux Falls, S..D. area. Vacationers from the Omaha area are beginning to come in, often using Storm Lake as an extention of a trip to Okoboji. Plates from Minnesota are starting to show up. The only disappointment is a lack of cars from Polk County and points east. "Des Moines and Omaha were two of the areas we have targeted in marketing. We are getting some penetration in Omaha, but the flooding in Des Moines and on east has cut into people's travel considerably," Havey said.
At the waterpark lot, it seems people are driving in from all points within about a 25-35 mile radius, slowly expanding as word of the park's attractions get out.
The numbers are backing up what the manager sees on his parking lot strolls.
"The first week of June was a little slow, as it typically is in this industry as kids are just getting out of shool. From that point on, it has been very strong," Havey says.
Last Saturday, there were 700 people in the waterpark, the biggest day of the weather-slowed season so far. "We are very, very busy on the weekends, but we would like to see more people coming in during the week," he said.
At the lodge, occupancy is averaging better than 70 percent per week, with weekends selling out and Fridays coming close to full.
With advance reservations, it appears that occupancy for the month of July should meet or exceed the goal of 80 percent.
"I'm never satisfied unless we are sold out every night, but we are doing quite well - right where we had forecast to be," Havey said.
King's Pointe just completed a study based on the comment cards guests are invited to fill out. "To date was have had a 84 percent satisfaction rate, which is one of the highest scores I've ever seen," he said.
Managing a place that gives others so much joy makes for enjoyable work.
"We're having fun," he says. "And now that we have some good weather, everything is that much better."
With the lighthouse concession stand open, visitors now can choose to eat grilled food at the beach, enjoy fine dining at the Regatta Grille restaurant in the lodge, or dine on the outdoor lakefront patio.
"It's nice to have three different choices for people. The boaters especially love to be able to pull up to the dock and have their meal right there on the patio," Havey said.
As more elements of Project AWAYSIS are completed, the resort and its food service choices are seeing a lot more traffic.
If you see a guy in a dress suit out bopping around the splash-happy waterpark, by the way, that would be Havey.
"I like to see how many people are lined up down the waterslide tower," he says.
* Editor's Note - A completely new web site has just been completed for the resort. Check it out at kingspointresort.com