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Great Wolf posts 4Q loss, optimistic about new Concord resort

Great Wolf Resorts, which will open a new indoor waterpark in Concord this April, today says it lost 16-cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2008. But company officials are pleased because that's less than the 30-cent-per-share loss analysts expected. The new Great Wolf Resort in Concord - which features an indoor waterpark, a spa for kids and 400 family-style rooms - is a key part of the company's plan to weather the recession. It's Great Wolf's first resort in the southeast and CEO Kim Schaefer says it's exactly the kind of so-called "staycation" families are looking to take right now. On a call with investors this morning, Schaefer said the company did lose money in the fourth quarter, and bookings are down companywide. Typically she says 70 percent of reservations at Great Wolf resorts happen within a 21 day booking window. Now she says "we are seeing a shift to a 14 day decision time." Schaefer attributes the more last-minute nature of current reservations to economic uncertainty in American homes. And that will make it harder for the new Concord resort in its first few months of operation. Schaefer also says overwhelming response at a local Great Wolf job fair allowed the company to staff all 500 positions at the resort, which will open on April 10th.