Room for One More, Honey

Is the latest heavy hitter in hospitality a troubled amusement-park operator whose shares currently trade for less than $5 a stub? If so, it means that Six Flags (NYSE: PKS  ) finally seems to get it.

After years of not taking full advantage of its prized real estate, the company is set to build out its amusement-park empire with onsite resort destinations, beginning with the 200-suite Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, set to open in just a few months at its park in Lake George, N.Y.

And in a recent online survey for the chain's season-pass holders, one of the questions involved a 500- to 700-room full-service hotel planned for its Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey. Six Flags is looking to open the hotel in time for the 2007 operating season.

Yes, most of Six Flags' turnstile clicks come from the locals. But out-of-towners are more likely to load up on souvenirs, eat at the park, and possibly extend their stay for another day. That's why it's smart to make the parks a more attractive destination by offering lodging to those patrons.

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN  ) , Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , and General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) Universal Orlando attractions already have onsite hotels at their most popular parks. Beyond the convenience of staying right next to the thrill havens they own, overnight guests are treated to perks like early entrance into the parks or access to shorter lines. That allows the operators to charge a significant premium to their rates.

No one is arguing that Six Flags is about to become the next Hilton (NYSE: HLT  ) or Holiday Inn parent Intercontinental Group (NYSE: IHG  ) . That's OK. All that matters now is that Six Flags is starting to capitalize on its assets. After years of winning over thrifty park-goers with dirt-cheap season passes, Six Flags has made a great move in appealing to those who have heavier wallets and looser purse strings. Turnstiles are nice, but room keys can be even nicer.

Now for some more summer reading:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to take his family to new amusement parks every summer, and he practices what he preaches -- he owns shares in Disney, Cedar Fair, and Six Flags.The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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