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Laskaris buys Copa Cabana

The Copa Cabana on The Strip in Lake Delton has been sold to Nick Laskaris of Mt. Olympus.

Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park, under the ownership of Nick and Eva Laskaris, has expanded once more to include Copa Cabana Resort Hotel & Suites.

In an interview Monday, Nick said he bought the property in part because it will serve as the entry to the properties he owns along Wisconsin Dells Parkway, - The Strip. The Copa Cabana has an elevated walkway over highway that has been there since the 1960s, according to the history of the resort on the Copa Cabana web site.

Nick said the walkway is iconic, being the only bridge across the highway and plans to use it to mark the beginning of the numerous properties he owns along the Strip.

Properties he's acquired include the former RiverWalk Hotel in Wisconsin Dells, American World Resort, Star Motel, Star Motor Inn, Luna Inn and Suites and Raintree Resort.

Nick said in the past he had different names for all of the lodgings, like Zeus' Village and Mykonos Village, Mykonos Resort, Santorini Village and Poseidon's Village. But he said it is much better to have the properties under one name and plans to call all of it Mt. Olympus Village.

With the acquisition of Copa Cabana, Nick said he now has about 1,000 hotel rooms in the Lake Delton-Wisconsin Dells area.

With the new property he added an additional 130 rooms and an indoor waterpark.

Nick said undertaking buying and remodeling the property, although it is in good shape already, will cost at least $4 million. He said he plans to purchase new bedding and sheets for the rooms and add wood flooring. Guests who were planning to stay at Copa Cabana Resort Hotel & Suites will be transferred to Hotel Rome until the remodeling is complete in the spring, he said.

"My goal is to finally get the Strip back into not only looking good but performing well. And to perform well, it's got to look good," Nick said.

Nick said he negotiated the purchase with Tom Diehl. Tom and Margaret Diehl are listed along with Andrew "Turk" and Judy Waterman and John "Jack' and Mary Waterman as having managed the property since October 1992 on the resort's web site.

Laskaris said the web site for Copa Cabana has yet to be changed.

According to the web site, the property was first known as Uphoff's in 1939. It was a 26-room motel, bar and restaurant owned and managed by Myron and Marion Uphoff. In 1964 the property was expanded to 100 rooms and had the new name of the Delton Inn Towne Motel. That is when the skywalk was constructed, according to the web site.

The property changed ownership on occasion between the 1960s and 1992. It used to also be associated with Best Western, the web site states.

Laskaris plans to repaint the exterior of the Copa Cabana blue and white. Laskaris said the exterior won't be pink like it is now, but will fit the Greek mythology theme for his resort.

Nick plans on hiring another dozen employees to staff the new property and another eight to 10 people to work at a new outdoor attraction he's adding to Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park to open for Memorial Day.

Nick said in 2011 the resort had more than 1 million people visit, better than attendance in 2010. He said his business keeps growing because he keeps reinvesting in it and adding more properties. He plans to start adding dining packages with stays at one of his properties. Already, guests who purchase a night at one of the Laskaris' properties have admission to the water and theme park included.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Jill Diehl, who worked as general manager for Copa Cabana since 1994, explained the reason for the sale.

She said given the way business is for waterpark hotels in the area right now that the property would have a bright future given what Nick and Eva Laskaris have to offer the guests that stay at Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park lodging.

When asked if business was hard for the resort before the sale, Jill said, "I think that there are good pockets of success in this area, and then I think there are also areas in the Dells where people are still in need of help. Our business was doing OK," she said.

The Tom and Margaret Diehl and family still own Tommy Bartlett's Ski, Sky and Stage Show and also own the Crystal Grand Music Theatre with Todd Nelson of the Kalahari. Jill said the sale of Copa Cabana was completed last week, and she will be dedicating more time to working with the Tommy Bartlett Show.

"We think it's a beautiful property. We really enjoyed it over the years, definitely," Jill said.