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11/03/2022

Great Wolf Resorts Names John Murphy as Chief Executive Officer

Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. announced today that John Murphy, (“Murph”), will serve as the company’s next Chief Executive Officer, taking over for Murray Hennessy who is retiring, but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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John Murphy CEO Great Wolf resorts

Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. announced today that John Murphy, (“Murph”), will serve as the company’s next Chief Executive Officer, taking over for Murray Hennessy who is retiring, but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company. Murphy is a seasoned hospitality executive with more than 30 years of hospitality leadership experience.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be following in Murray’s footsteps, leading this incredibly talented and enthusiastic Great Wolf team. It’s abundantly clear that this is a company with a strong culture that truly cares for its people, setting the foundation for everything the team does to support the mission of bringing joy to families,” shared Murphy. “When you visit a Great Wolf Lodge, the environment speaks to the things I have always cared about most with my family – spending quality time together and creating memories that last a lifetime. It’s easy to see why families have developed such a strong connection to this brand.”

“We are grateful to Murray for his hard work over the years, and excited to welcome Murph to the team. His extensive hospitality experience, collaborative approach and ability to develop high performing teams make him an ideal choice to lead Great Wolf Resorts as we continue to invest in new communities, creating jobs and giving more families the ability to enjoy the Great Wolf experience. With Murray remaining as an advisor, we are confident it will be a seamless transition,” added Rob Harper, Blackstone’s Head of Real Estate Asset Management Americas. Private equity firm, Blackstone, maintains a majority ownership stake in Great Wolf Resorts.

“We have been honored to work with Murray for the past five years. As CEO, he expanded the Company’s ‘paw print’ with four new resorts across the U.S., which created more than 2,000 jobs and made millions of memories for families. In addition, Murray led the company through the particularly challenging years of the pandemic, and helped the company emerge even stronger,” shared Billy Rahm, Global Head of Real Estate for Centerbridge Partners. “As the company begins this next chapter, we’re thrilled to partner with Murph as we continue to invest in enhancing the Great Wolf experience at our existing lodges, and expand our reach through the development of new resorts and with Great Wolf Entertainment.” New York-based private equity group, Centerbridge Partners, holds the remaining share of Great Wolf Resorts.

Murphy takes the helm at Great Wolf Resorts during an exciting growth period. Already North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts with 19 properties, the company has three additional resorts under construction. The new resorts include:

  • Great Wolf Lodge Maryland in Perryville, which is scheduled to open in summer of 2023.
  • Great Wolf Lodge South Florida in Naples, which is scheduled to open in 2024.
  • Great Wolf Lodge Gulf Coast Texas in Webster, which is scheduled to open in 2024.

These new resorts will create more than 1,500 new jobs, expanding Great Wolf Resorts’ Pack Member (employee) count to more than 11,000 nationwide.

While expanding its “paw print” into new markets with new resorts is an area of focus, Great Wolf Resorts is also investing significantly in its existing resorts. Next summer, the company will complete a significant expansion of its Pocono Mountains resort, which includes 202 additional hotel rooms, 30 luxury, three-bedroom villas, and a 40,000-square foot enhancement to its indoor water park. Additional renovations are planned across the brand that will introduce new attractions, amenities, and retail experiences to further enhance the overall family experience.

Additionally, the company is expanding into family entertainment with the emergence of Great Wolf Entertainment. This newly founded entertainment arm of the company is focused on expanding company-owned character IP and recently completed its first animated film featuring the famed Great Wolf Lodge woodland characters. Content featuring the Great Wolf Pack characters is also available on the Great Wolf Entertainment YouTube channel (The Great Wolf Pack - YouTube) with additional episodic content available for distribution.

For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its indoor water park resorts, visit www.greatwolf.com.

About John Murphy

Murphy co-founded and served as principal for Triton Hospitality, a hotel sponsorship group created to acquire and asset manage hospitality assets. Before Triton Hospitality, Murphy founded and served as president and CEO for Evolution Hospitality. Launched in January of 2011, Evolution grew rapidly from nine hotels under management to over 100 hotels (75 under management and 25+ under development) and more than $1 billion in managed revenue under Murphy’s leadership. Evolution was acquired as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aimbridge Hospitality in 2015, and Murphy stayed on as its president/CEO through 2019.

A West Coast native, Murphy and his wife of 33 years, Heidi, currently reside in Solana Beach, Calif. surrounded by their three adult children and five grandchildren, including a set of triplets. Murphy and his wife will relocate to Chicago, where Great Wolf Resorts’ corporate office is located.