Great Wolf Lodge is a chain of family-friendly hotels that prominently feature an outdoorsy theme of forest and woodland creatures, along with an extensive indoor waterpark. Plus, there are several on-property attractions and amenities designed with children in mind. There are 20 lodge locations in total, with 19 in the United States and one in Niagara Falls, Canada. Find our review of the Niagara Falls location HERE. One of the most popular locations in the US is in the Poconos.
The Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania offers several family-friendly resorts, many of which contain impressive indoor waterparks – these include Split Rock, Kalahari, Camelback, and Woodloch. However, Great Wolf Lodge is the most well-known for its waterpark feature, and the amenities lean toward younger children. For example, where Great Wolf offers storytime, arts and crafts, and character appearances for young kids, Camelback is geared to an older audience with an adventure park featuring ziplining and a mountain coaster. That said, plenty of adults also enjoy visiting Great Wolf for a fun weekend away.
In addition to 8 onsite dining options ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants, this location also features a variety of family-oriented activities including interactive experiences, bowling, indoor mini golf, a ropes course, an arcade, a Build-a-Bear workshop, and more. The gift shop, located near the lobby, provides a number of themed souvenirs as well as complimentary wolf ears for guests.
Like all Great Wolf locations, the lodge in the Poconos offers several accommodation options that range from standard rooms to suites, lofts, and multi-room premium suites. Three-bedroom family villas are currently under construction to give guests a home away from home atmosphere.
For the purpose of our review, our GlobeHopper team opted for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom Grizzly Bear Suite.
- conveniently located
- lots of onsite amenities
- spacious rooms
- our team of reviewers was surprised to encounter an extensive line at check-in given that the lodge advocates heavily for online check-in. Additionally, there are 8 check-in desks inside the lobby but only 2 or 3 are people working at any given time.
- although the website promises daily housekeeping, this is not the case. Plus, the staff contradict each other with their explanations. Some staff members claim that housekeeping is not allowed to enter your room after you’ve checked in while others insist that guests must use the Great Wolf text thread to request housekeeping services. But even a text isn’t a guarantee, nor will your expectations be met if they show up. The GlobeHopper team noticed that one bed had been made with stained sheets, and the wet towels and bathmat had been folded and put back into place, thereby making it “look” like they had been replaced. The room was never vacuumed – actually, there were gum wrappers left on the floor from prior guests along with a sticky piece of chewed gum that was squashed into the carpet.
- our team returned to their room on the second day to discover that housekeeping had left the door slightly open and unlocked, thereby leaving all belongings at risk.
- the shower curtain in the walk-in shower stall of the second bathroom wasn’t long enough to prevent water from spraying onto the bathroom floor so the floor was always wet and a safety hazard.
- the toilet was so outdated in the second bathroom that inside the bowl was rusted and stained.
- the current state of renovation and construction is downplayed by management to the point of being a lie. Guests are informed prior to arrival that only certain areas of the lodge are affected by the refurbishment and that it will not affect guests and their stay. However, construction is literally throughout the entire lodge, some amenities are closed, hallways/doorways are ripped up and full of workers, and the parking lot is impaired by fencing and construction vehicles. Not only does this cause safety concerns, but parking is severely reduced.
- construction starts early in the morning so the constant beep of trucks backing up will likely wake you long before your alarm does.
- unfortunately, the lodge has not created a safe section for construction vehicles so they are in close proximity to guests’ vehicles. During our team’s 3-day stay, a handful of guests incurred damage when hit by a construction vehicle or suffered a tire puncture from a nail (as our reviewers did). Even more unfortunate is the lodge does not take responsibility for these problems and guests receive a run-around when trying to get help or compensation.
- walls and floors between rooms are paper thin and because the lodge is child-centric, it’s impossible to escape the noise of running, stomping, and screaming coming from the hallways as well as other rooms. If you end up in a room close to a child who wakes up crying and screaming several times a night (as GlobeHopper did) you can expect a sleepless night. And if the parents of that child become frustrated and start arguing with each other at 3:00 a.m. (as was GlobeHopper’s experience) you can expect to hear all of that as well.
- the rooms are in need of an update and maintenance – our GlobeHoppers reviewers were inconvenienced by outlets and bedside lights that did not work, and a missing hair dryer from the bathroom. We were also frustrated that the phone and controls for air conditioning existed only in one room of a 2-bedroom suite. We understand that the lodge is geared toward families BUT it should not be assumed that virtually EVERY guest is with family. Nevertheless, that’s how the suites are set up and that’s how guests are treated by staff.
- food, drink, and add-on experiences or amenities are outrageously overpriced.
- most communication is done by a text bot called “Willow” which begins sending texts a few days prior to your arrival to encourage guests to use their app for online check-in, and then the texts continue throughout the day and evening during the course of your stay as the hotel reminds guests of events, and specials etc. There’s even a text to remind guests that it’s “quiet time”… despite that no one takes it seriously and kids continue to run up and down the hallways while screaming. Clearly, the lodge is determined to digitalize communication rather than using in-person customer service. However, if you text back to inform staff of a problem, the lodge response is hit-and-miss. And any texts promising to “investigate and call you back” rarely materialize. We’re assuming this is why we are seeing a growing list of Better Business Bureau reports.
- hands down, one of the worst overall hotel experiences in a long time