Great Wolf Lodge is most likely a well known name in the US but here in Australia I had never heard of them before. I stumbled upon the chain of hotels almost by accident. They certainly don’t get any mention in the travel brochures here in Australia. For those of you like me who have never heard of Great Wolf Lodge and have no idea what I am talking about, they are a chain of hotels with their own indoor waterpark, just for hotel guest use.
We hired a car in Seattle and road tripped to Mt Rainier before making our way to Grand Mound and back through to Seattle. You will need a car to get to the Great Wolf Lodge at Grand Mound, it is about 1 1/2 hours out of Seattle. I think the key is this is a destination holiday – once you are there you don’t need to leave, they even have their own Starbucks on site. Thumbs up from me! There are plenty of places to eat on site, and so many activities, I am quite positive the words, “I’m bored” will never leave your kids mouths.
Now you only have to do a bit of research to find there are some mixed reactions to the Great Wolf Lodge brand. Some people will say it is too expensive and not worth it, others will say it is worth every cent. I am in the worth every cent basket. But at the end of the day you can choose how much you want to spend, and there are a few ways to save some dollars if you need to stick to a budget.
We booked a standard family suite and it ticked all the right boxes for us. There are 2 Queen beds and a sofa bed, we travel with a son and daughter who do not want to share a bed anymore and this is my idea of a true family room – 3 separate beds in the room! The living area is semi-partitioned off so our daughter felt like she had her own space, and was more than happy to sleep on the sofa bed as long as she didn’t have to share with her brother. Each room has a fridge and a microwave so you can shop before you arrive to save on food costs.
Included in your room booking is free unlimited wifi and most importantly – tickets to the water park. However if someone doesn’t feel like getting wet, there is always something else going on, there are heaps of kids activities, and story time in the lobby which are all included in the price of your room. There are also many other activities within the hotel which are not included in the price, and this is where it can all start to add up. There is a glow in the dark mini-golf, arcade games, Kids Spa and our favourite – MagiQuest.
MagiQuest turns the hotel into an adventure quest for kids (and adults!). There are hints and clues to follow all over the hotel and computer screens where they can check their progress. You do need to make a one-off purchase of a wand, and then pay for which adventure you would like to do. At any given time you will see kids running through the hotel hunting for clues. I certainly got a work out running up and down stairs (the hidden staircase!) looking for clues.
We only stayed one night, so between the water park and MagiQuest we didn’t have much time to do any of the extras. That said, we would have liked to stay another night as we had so much fun and didn’t want it to end. When you are booking your accommodation there are multiple packages you can add to your booking. Many of them come with promotional items that we didn’t want, so it worked out better value for us to pay for any activities we wanted to do when we were there. Your arm bands can be linked to your account so you can simply scan your wrist band to make purchases and there is no need to carry around money. They also allow access to your room so you don’t need to carry a key or keycard.
Within the hotel there are no shortage of places to eat. We added breakfast to our booking which worked out to be about $10 per person. Great value with a great selection of food available. We also took a break from the waterpark for some Hungry Wolf Pizza. If you do decide you want a break from the hotel there is a great Mexican restaurant just up the road. Leaving the hotel to eat is also a good option for keeping the budget down.
You can make the most of your time at the hotel to get the most value for money. Check in time is 4pm – but you are welcome to arrive from 1pm and hit the waterpark. We arrived around 1pm and our room was ready – arriving mid-week if possible will make it a bit quieter than on the weekends. Check out time is 11am but you can make use of the waterpark and facilities until closing time.
I now find myself searching for Great Wolf Lodge locations when deciding where we will travel. We have even kept our wands “just in case”. Where will we go next?