So some folks decided it would be a good idea to build massive hotels, centered around indoor water and amusement parks, with a couple of adult perks (bar, spa) thrown in for good measure. A wide variety of accommodations are available, including very large (all suite) rooms that you can fit your whole family (and in laws) (sleeping up to 16!) in, as well as some theme rooms.
This location, Wisconsin Dells, was their first inn, and it opened in 1997. The chain’s hotels are generally in the 500,000 square foot range, up to 500 rooms, with 15-20% of that square footage comprised of the water park/play area. There are outdoor pools as well, and an expansive game arcade.
The hotel has a restaurant, bar, pizza, ice cream, coffee and gift shops, and special activities for the kids.
Here is the amazing thing to me. This place runs like CLOCKWORK, and is staffed with friendly, helpful employees who have truly been educated on the concept of being part of the “hospitality” industry.
And lest you wonder if your children are going to be safe in the water park area, it is chock-a-block full of supervisor/life guards, both in and out of the water. Their presence is felt everywhere.
Drawbacks? Check in time is 4 PM and exit is 11AM, but offsetting that, you may use the facilities for the entire day you check in and check out. So even if you have to check out on, say a Sunday, at 11AM, you’re welcome to use the water park until closing. (Of course, they will ship you off to a room as soon as one is available, we actually got in ours at 1:15).
Admission to the park, and doubling as a room key are bracelets. This technology just blows me away, as I’ve checked into a lot of hotels with swipe cards for room keys, where I’ve gone from reception to my room (especially painful in the giant Las Vegas hotels) and had the key not work. Or have it crap out in the middle of the night during your stay. Yet these bracelets take a beating multiple times a day, in and out of water, and work like a charm. Amazing.
Wisconsin Dells deserves an explanation on its own, but I won’t go into that here, other that to say it is a family entertainment mecca / destination, full of hotels, restaurants, attractions, both man made and from nature. Unique in the US.
Finally, about the hotel, food, beverages, services – expect to pay “resort prices,” which can significantly add to your vacation budget, and the activities for kids are a little steep as well. The good news is, there are plenty of eateries throughout the Dells, the majority of which you will find a very pleasing “value pricing” attitude.
(Sidebar, relevant to nothing. I met the former marketing director of this resort, some years ago, in a crappy Portland bar on Thanksgiving. He got me interested in checking one of these out. Interesting guy. Choking through a horrible turkey dinner at the insistence of a mutual friend, our conversation wandered all over Wisconsin, from the House on the Rock to George Webb’s.
Photos are from the web. I didn’t want to impose on anybody’s privacy by randomly taking snaps.
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