More about Great Wolf Lodge - Poconos Pa
In short, YUCK! What a colossal disappointment. The hotel was overbooked, over-crowded and the under-staffed desk and life guards overwhelmed. We arrived at 1:15 PM for a 4 PM check-in. We waited a total of 3 1/2 hours in line to check-in. Once checked in, we were told our rooms were not ready and to go enjoy the waterpark and check back with them in 2 hours.
We changed into our bathing suits in a flithy over-crowded locker room with no place to store our valuables. (The lockers don't have keys.) Once changed, we were found a table and chairs to sit at right next to a DIRTY pair of underwear lying on the ground next to mushed cherrios and old ketchup wrappers.
By 7:11 PM, our family still had no room, and to add insult, no apparent care or genuine concern on the part of the hotel. Indeed, we were far from alone in our frustration. After waiting an additional hour to speak with a manager (taking refuge in a back room), we demanded a credit, got in our car and drove home. If the goal was to disappoint a 5-year old and charge parents an exhorbitant room rate of $418 per evening, the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is the place to go. Stockholders Beware!
Worth A Try
We just returned from a one night Saturday stay at the Great Wolf Lodge (12-3-05 to 12-4-05). The lodge itself is very clean and that staff was friendly overall. They were totally booked this weekend, but we did not wait in line to check in, we got there at about 5:15 on Saturday and must have missed the rush. Upon settling into our room, we immediately headed to the water park. It was really great. Our only problem was that our 34 month old daughter didn't like any of the pools, slides or water features. This was very strange, since she has never shown a fear of water before. She literally cried the entire time we were in the park and we did not bring her back inside on Sunday. However, we saw many children her age really enjoying the park and think that our daughter is just going through a phase. Because only the three of us were on this trip, myself, my husband and our daughter - we didn't really get to make full use of the water park. My husband and I had to take turns riding the slides while one of us stayed behind with our daughter. If you are not sure how your child will react to the water park, make sure that you bring other adults or older children with you look after the little ones in intervals. We will be sure to bring Grandma and some cousins next time.
There was A LOT of chlorine. My husband and I have very red eyes and our daughter has some pink spots on her skin. The park is clean and there was plenty of staff around at all times. Around the dinner hour, the park really slows down. We had no problems with lines after the first hour we were there. Also, the park opens at 8:30 AM and for the first 2 hours it is not crowded at all.
It is very warm inside the park and the water temperature is agreeable. A resort staff member told me that the floor tiles are heated and the park is kept at 84 degrees at all times. This was especially comfortable, since it was snowing outside. Some of the slides go outside the building and get very cold, but just for a few seconds. It's actually refreshing. The roller coaster ride is great according to my husband. I was unable to ride it, because it broke down later in the evening. Plus, you cannot ride it alone and he had a hard time getting someone to join him in his boat after he waited in line for 25 minutes. Another reason to take more people with you.
One fact was not well advertised - there is a hot tub that is restricted to adults only. I used it on Sunday when I went by myself to the park in the morning before my husband and daughter got up. That was lovely. Otherwise, there is a larger hot tub that is open to all. I saw a lot of babies in swim diapers in that tub - something I would not choose to do.
The locker rooms were dirty, crowded and not attended to during our stay. This is a big part of the reason we opted not to stay in the park after we checked out of our room. Plus, the locker rooms could benefit from hair dryers.
Food - We ate at the buffet for dinner and lunch. It was very good and the service was great. Plus, we had a cocktail at the bar in the water park. That was excellent and the bartender was very nice. It was all a bit expensive, but we expected that. We didn't want to go anywhere outside the resort to eat.
Room - We had the Kid Cabin room. I travel quite frequently and this was on-par with any high-end hotel. The rooms have these amazing high ceilings and beautiful decor. The Kid Cabin was beautiful and we would choose this room again. Plus, the room had a beautiful gas fireplace that we used often. The room was actually too big for just the three of us. We could have added another couple of kids with no problem. Make a note - if you bring food, the room is equiped with a small refrigerator and microwave and small coffee maker. There are no utensils, plates or napkins - just coffee mugs and plastic disposable cups. A nice surprize in the bathroom is a small bottle of tear-free bath and body wash for the kids. I had forgotten our Aveeno, so this was a welcome amenity. Speaking of the bathroom, ours had a BIG leak in the ceiling. When I called guest services they sent someone within minutes who determined that the problem was in the room above us. We had no further problems with the room after that was fixed.
The shop in the resort is very nice and has a nice variety of items in all price ranges. It stays open late and provided an hour of entertainment for my daughter.
The arcade is like a mini Dave and Buster's. We all enjoyed it and came home with some cute prizes.
My husband had a massage at the Aveda Concept Spa and raved about it. He would go back just for that.
My daughter and I kept busy at the Cub Club making fabric painted T shirts and Christmas crafts to take home. We found the staff helpful and friendly. They seemed to have to put up with a lot of grumbling from some of the parents who came in. I have to say that I heard a lot of other parents complaining and seeming rather disagreeable about minor things while we were in the Cub Club. I wanted to say "Hey, it rained in my bathroom and even I'm not that crabby!!" It's a new resort, they have a couple of little bugs to work out, but overall we had a nice experience and plan to return in the New Year with friends and family. They're opening a Starbucks next year inside the resort. Another Plus!!!
Not so Good
This was a disappointment for the most part. The waterslides were fun for my two children but their "blue slide" (their best one, was shut down for both days and no one could answer us if it would open. A night is definitely enough. The service was poor. We got their at 1:00, received bracelets for the waterpark, and waited in line 45 minutes for pre-registration. All they do is take your credit card. Then you come back at 4 to get your room, wait another 30 mins. and are told there are no clean rooms left come back and you keep repeating this process until you have a room. The food was overpriced-go to Big Daddy's on Rt 611N-and the employers were at times rude and unhelpful. In the waterpark, the garbage pails overflowed and were not cleaned for hours leaving pistachio shells and spilled beer and soda for hours to be walked in. Vomit was covered with towels and left. I think they need more time to work through their growing pains.
My family and another family went there this past weekend.. As previous posters mentioned, the check in process has to be worked on. We arrived around 230pm, Friday afternoon, waited in line till about 410pm receiving our keys at that time, while others, from we overheard, had arrived earlier that day and had waited till 6pm for their keys! There has to be a better way! Otherwise, we enjoyed ourselves... The indoor water park was awesome! Kids were loving every minute of their stay... ages ranging from 2yo to 14yo. We had brought some food from home but the kids bought Pizza Hut on Saturday nite, not that expensive as some mentioned, $12.50 for a large 8 slice pie, coming from NY seems very reasonable to me!!
This morning before leaving we went to the breakfast buffet, $10.99 adults, $5.99 for kids 4-10 yo, 4 and under free.. Was alot better than some others posted.. A bit of everything for everyone, including fresh omelettes made to order.I didn't see any other problems with the rooms, elevators, or shows that they had for the kids!
We stayed in a Family Suite on the 3rd floor.. They didn't change our sheets as we said they didn't have too but they came in an refreshed our towels and soaps and gave us more pillows at our request.
As for the water park meals, yes, they aren't anything wonderful, but how wonderful does chicken fingers/burgers/fries have to be?
Some posted no towels were available to them, I found that not to be a problem, but yes, there were towels drapped on chairs all over the place...there are 2 bins at the entrance doors, one for fresh towels and one for used.. so tell me this? Why when you use a towel, why can't you put it in that bin and pick up after yourselves?? Maybe this is why there are towels all over.... I would definately return there for a future visit..
Remember, its for the kids
Until a few bugs are worked out, I can not give an overall of excellent. However, I'm quite sure we'll head back up there again later this winter ... that alone says something. The idea and fun of an indoor water park made for some great family time yesterday. Yes, as you may have read in other reviews already, check-in can take long. It was long indeed. However, remember, you're there for the kids and family fun part of it all. Keep the attitude upbeat, it helps teach something of value to the kids and does wonders for your own blood pressure too. We had a bunch of nice folks waiting right along with us and when hotel staff came out with free Ben & Jerrys ... like they must of handed (and threw) out several hundred top notch ice creams to help the crowd hang in there. We learned that they went from 100% to 100% capacity with all but 22 guest rooms (out of 400) checking in/out. Take the kids suits in with you in a seperate small duffle bag. If they have an adult with them (unless they're old enough) they can hit the pool while one of you waits upstairs. And ... about a half hour after the ice cream, it was cookies ... then in another half hour the lady next to us got them to bring up a tray with beer and wine. Wow, now we're looking at a managment that does want us to enjoy ourselves. You know, the wait ended up OK. But that is because of what we and those around us made it. As far as the rooms and the water park ... that was all great! The pool area wasn't full at all after 7:30PM nor between 8:30 and 10:30 this morning. And, heck, three days from December ... Northeast PA ... and the four of us were hanging out in a wave pool this morning. We're looking forward to heading back up there again sometime.
Great Family Getaway
GWL exceeded our expectations in several ways resulting in a very pleasant 2 night stay for the whole family. We arrived on Sunday, Nov 27th around 3 PM. The line to pre-register (sign in before actually getting your room) was wrapped around the lobby and took approx 90 minutes to get through. To their credit, GWL handed out waterpark wristbands to people waiting so that Mom and the kids could entertain themselves. After awhile, the consierge handed out free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, cookies and even free beer and wine to the rest of us waiting in line. This really went a long way towards keeping people from getting cranky. I got lucky and was told that our room was ready so I did not have to stand in a second line, approx 20 minutes long, for a key. It's worth noting that there were little or no lines on Monday and Tuesday to register and that Sunday was on Thanksgiving weekend.
We stayed in a "Wolf Den" room for the benefit of our 5 and 8 year old sons. They really loved it. The room was cleanly made and included a coffee maker, microwave and fridge with freezer that was the size of a tall "college" fridge. The room was spacious and was located at the end of the left wing (as far away from the lobby as possible) and we had no complaints despite the long walk. The less foot traffic past our room, the better. The room had "rustic" log furnishings and was very nicely decorated. The queen size bed was very comfortable, and the pillows were nice and thick. For those who have little ones who might join you in the bed, rest assured since there is an amazingly silent waterproof mattress pad on the bed. Next time we will bring sheets for the kids bunk beds since the mattresses were slick vinyl and the "sheets" consisted of a flannel sac that served as both the top and bottom sheet. The problem was that there was no elastic on the bottom sheets so it came undone way too easily, leaving them sleeping on the vinyl. Yuck.
The room is very dark, so we left the bathroom light on and the door open a crack to serve as a nightlight. The heater worked well, and we kept it on the "fan" setting all night to provide white noise for sleeping. Actually, it was very quiet aside from just a bit of trampling overhead (quiet hours are from 11 pm to 7:30 am, but there was no bothersome noise at any time). The only thing that REALLY woke us up was the fire alarm going off at 10:00 the first night. Apparantly it was yet another person who burned popcorn in the microwave. The fire alarms are maybe a bit oversensitive? Better safe than sorry, I guess. We just waited at the bottom of the stairs near the door instead of going outside since it was cold. We were all back in bed within 20 minutes, so no big deal. There is a warning in the "Guest Information" binder about not cooking popcorn for more than two minutes, but they should really have signs right on the microwaves if it is that much of a problem.
I would definately ask for a room on the left wing of the resort because there is a sewage treatment plant and when the wind blows it does stink a little. It was noticable in the centrally located parking lot, so I'm sure rooms on the right wing will get the worst of it, especially during the summer months. Curiously, the outdoor pool area was located on the right side facing the sewer treatment plant so hopefully they'll get the stink under control by the time it opens next year.
The waterpark was AWESOME. It was very crowded on Sunday night and Monday morning. By Monday late afternoon many guests had checked out and there were plenty of seats, floats, towels and best of all NO LINES!! They even had the big blue "roller coaster" slide fixed which thrilled my kids even more. Tuesday morning was even less crowed. As fast at you could climb the stairs, you could ride the slides. The wavepool beach area was great for the whole family and even the smaller kiddie sections and lazy river were a blast. We all really, really had a great time at the waterpark which was the whole point of our trip.
During crowded times (around 11 am to 4 pm), there did seem to be a lot of used towels and miscellaneous garbage left by those who chose to ignore the garbage cans and the bins to deposit used towels. There was some spilled food on the floor here and there (think kids), but nothing unbearably gross. If you are overly worried about stuff like that water shoes would be fine, but we didn't think they were necessary.
In the evening at 8 & 9 they had an animatronic show for the young ones in the lobby with singing trees, squirrels, owls a moose and even a little "lost" boy and an American Indian girl singing about nature. The kids loved it and wanted to go back the next night even though we told them it was the same show. Afterwards both nights was storytime by the fireplace featuring special guests Wiley the Wolf and Biko the Bear. This is the stuff kids remember for years.
The arcade was a good place to spend time after the waterpark. Most games, like Skeeball, took at least two tokens although some only needed one. The ticket payoff was good enough that the kids went home with lots of stuffed animals and other "toys". I overheard someone describe it as "Las Vegas for Kids" and that about sums it up.
We brought a bunch of food so only bought from the Waterpark concession stand once. It was fine if a little overpriced for hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, etc. A rather nondescript sign on the doors to the park states that you should not bring "outside" food into the park, but there is nobody checking, and it is absolutely not enforced. I didn't even notice the sign until the last day -- we had brought all kinds of snacks in with us and nobody even looked twice. We didn't use the onsite buffet restaurant since we don't eat enough to make buffets worth the price. For dinner one night we went to Tandoor Indian Restaurant at the Days Inn about 5 minutes away from GWL. If you love authentic Indian food this place is a must! As a bonus one of the dining rooms is an old railroad car.
Checkout time is 11 am, but you can use the park for the rest of the day (till 10 pm if you like). There are nice showers in the locker rooms, so we checked out, put most of our things in the car, and spent a few more hours at the park. After a quick shower in the locker rooms we were ready for the road.
All in all, we will go back again next year but probably on Monday instead of Sunday. What a difference a day makes.
Beware, the check-in will kill you
We went to the GWL on 11/11/05 for the first time. Here was the first impression - the line to check-in was out the door. (Imagine the dreadful feeling.) Another sufferer suggested that we ask for our wristband to the waterpark while one of us stood in line to check in. My husband went ahead to the park with the kids, and I stayed in line for close to 2 hours. Can you imagine? I was hoping that someone in management would've handed out bottled water or something, but there was none of that. Plus the fact that all of us in line were very warm from the heat in the lobby and the coats on our backs. It was a nightmare.
The waterpark is very cool, BUT, it's heavily chlorinated - you can smell it in the lobby - and my 6 year old suffered chlorine burn on his upper and lower eyelids. What a heartbreak that was. My 9 year old was only bloodshot for a few days. Considering that the waterpark is the highlight of the hotel, how can they not control the chlorine? Secondly, the biggest and best slide broke down after we were there an hour and it still isn't fixed.
The hotel room was very nice; however it does have a microwave oven and during the night, several people burned their popcorn which sent the fire alarms blaring for 10 minutes a pop. So much for sleep.
The restaurant - the only one that is - is a buffet. Definitely skip it for dinner but go for breakfast if you're an early-bird. For a brand new restaurant, it's sloppy because there arent enough people cleaning up after the abundance of guests. Gross.
I only hope someone in management at the GWL is listening. My calls and e-mails regarding my son's chlorine burns went unanswered. Not a nice way for a brand new hotel to start.
don't waste your money
I was thinking ok it is just growing pains, but after reading the reviews, i am less optimistic. We booked a suite with fireplace and got two in room packages for my daughters bday. I thought 25 minutes for check in was bad, now I realize I should be grateful. HOWEVER, they will not let u use your debit card for in room charges. They say it affects your account. (Shouldn't that be my decision?) The packages were in the room and included a movie. However, they offered two choices and within 3 hours offered one. The room was clean,but the bathroom fan was to loud and no way to shut off if you wanted a light. The room heater also to loud. We did ok by breakfast as it was prepaid and got there early. Again it is a cafeteria style buffet., The arcade was nice, but the employee didn't know how to exchange resort vouchers for tokens and said come back in 30 minutes. The cake included in the package was marginal and hte pizza cold and disgusting. the internet service spotty, and staff indifferent. The water park was ok but the towels etc are an issue. The water in the lazy river was cold. PEople are disgusting as I stepped ona beer bottle cap at the pool Come on people clean up after yourself. I don't know how staff would know if hte wet towel left on the chair belonged to someone still at the park or if the person had just been inconsiderate and left it. They closed the baby pool due to a child pooping but it was opened later in the day. My lifeguard years tells me this wasn't long enough to adequately sanitize it. I complained to management and received a 200 discount which was generous and more than I expected. However I would wait for a few more months to see if this place works out their issues before spending money to come here. Staff feel it is ok to just say, I am new, and don't know!
NOW THAT'S AN INDOOR WATERPARK
"A MINI VACATION-ALRIGHT 2 DAYS AWAY"
At the end of October, Richie and I decided to take the boys away for a mini vacation. Some friends of mine had been to the Great Wolf Lodge and raved about how great it was. We decided to check it out for ourselves and ended up having a blast with the boys.