Interview with Raquel Rodríguez, Director of the Aquaola waterpark in Granada, Spain

“Aquaola opened its doors in 1986, with an area of more than 4 hectares, which we have maintained throughout the years. Our main attraction lies in the landscape. There are numerous areas with trees and gardens, which compose a landscape of great interest. This aspect has become one of the most emblematic features that differentiate this waterpark from other similar installations. Out of the 45,000 m², the park has 32,000m² of splendid gardens and recreational areas and all the attractions are configured taking advantage of the natural unevenness of the terrain, without mechanical structures and surrounded by very beautiful, fresh green areas.

We have updated and extended our attractions during these years. The Rio Bravo is one of the most popular attractions, together with the wave pool, which offers a large space to enjoy the water, swim and take on the 6 different types of waves that the pool generates.

One of the park’s star attractions is the Black Pipe, a slide with light and sound, which riders descend on large floats. The fun is completed with the Lago Iguazú, which offers all the adventure you want, with ring games, the drop-off on “the tube”, or the force of the turbulent waters of its waterfalls.

In addition to the attractions, the park has self-service, in addition to several drinks kiosks, ice cream shop, souvenir shop, photography, tattoos, hammock rental and rental of floats.

We have a capacity of 1,460 people and our visitors are primarily national, more specifically from Granada, Almería and Jaén. The latter represents 30% of the public, since there is currently no similar park in the area. In contrast, foreign visitors represent a minimum percentage, of around 10%.

We carry out extensive marketing work, devoting much of our attention and budget (around 7-8%). We are present in various advertising media and make great use of the radio and especially face-to-face acts at local festivities in Granada and Jaén, where we appear with an advertising stand and some recreational activities related to our own activity. To reach tourists, we take advantage of direct sales in hotels in the province.

Our staff forms part of the success of Aquaola; we have a fixed team of 14 people for maintenance, administration and customer service, as well as a trained group of seasonal cleaning, security and lifeguard personnel, who guarantee safety and quality standards in the park.

Internally, we impart a specific course for working with us, to which we add some theoretical and practical tests. In this way, we make sure that each of the lifeguards who provide their services in the park is adequately trained to do so and that the courses given by external companies to obtain the titles have been of benefit to them.

Depending on each season, we allocate more or less of the budget to certain items. There are years in which we focus on what the public does not see (machinery, equipment, etc.) and others in which we invest in new attractions, but we always have to have a fixed maintenance budget, which in our case is the maintenance of gardens and trees, Aquaola’s added value.

After a few difficult years, the sector is being revitalized. As in all businesses, it’s extremely important to renew in order to offer the public new activities, especially in the case of our park, which has a primarily local audience. We constantly see how new attractions are designed and the effort to stay in this sector comes through this renovation.

Our goal is to keep expanding attractions, recouping in this way the number of visitors we had before the economic downfall. Last year we renovated the playground with new tracks and slides, as well as restyling the brand, which gave us very good results. For this campaign we have focused on renewing the interior image of the park doing work on the paving and bathrooms; during this season, we hope to recover the figures that we had before the downturn.

We’re treated well by local media such as the Ideal newspaper, the Granada Ser radio station and the Granada newspaper. In fact, every year we receive a visit from Canal Sur to do its program from our facilities.

It is true that we have never had any serious accident, and as such we’ve freed ourselves from the impartial analyses that are often made of these facts.

If we had to start over, through design we would try to optimize the necessary park personnel. As each of our attractions has an independent start-point and arrival pool, the lifeguard personnel required is much greater than if all the slides and soft slides had the same departure and arrival area.

This distribution was due to the use of the characteristics and orography of the terrain, but we have verified that this same characteristic could be maintained during the park’s construction, by combining the reception pools in some way”.