After hearing about fun times from many friends, I finally got to check the resort out for myself last month. Along for the ride were my four-year-old, my ten-month-old, and my mom.
GWL is located an hour’s drive or less down I-64. Its main attraction is the huge indoor waterpark, for which lodge guests receive free passes.
First things first, of course, I had to find a great deal on a room…
RichmondMom also sometimes gets blocks of rooms at a discount for specific dates, which is how I got our premium suite for $149.99. The lowest price I’ve seen is $139.99 a night for the basic suites.
– Sign up for Great Wolf Lodge emails to receive notification of the periodic 48-Hour Sales, when you can purchase rooms at a discount
– Check the Great Wolf Lodge Deals page for current discount package options
– Ask about discounts for military, AAA, etc.
– Not surprisingly, the cheapest rates are usually offered Sunday through Thursday nights
My favorite feature was actually our waterpark pass bracelets that doubled to scan as our room key! Oh-so-stylish and no worries about losing them:
My second-favorite was that, since the waterpark is indoors, I didn’t have to hassle with sunscreen!
Apparently simplification and convenience are my top priorities these days 🙂
Most of our free time was devoted to waterpark shenanigans. There are over a dozen sections/slides to the giant indoor park, which is kept a balmy 84 degrees. My uber-cautious four-year-old didn’t venture beyond the kiddie (Whooping Hollow) and wave (Beaver Tail Pond) pools this visit. He developed a paranoia about the huge water bucket that dumps 1,000 gallons of water in the central play area periodically; when her heard the warning dings, he would freeze wherever he was and cover his ears. Despite his misgivings, he did, however, thouroughly enjoy himself!
– Bring your own food! The rooms all come with a mini fridge and microwave. They do not, however, have any plates, utensils, or other cooking equipment (I ended up slicing bananas with my trusty mini Swiss Army knife). Dining prices at Great Wolf are high, though not highway robbery.
There are a number of restaurants just around the corner, including Sonic (Go for the half-price drink happy hour from 2-4pm every day!), IHOP, Burger King, Subway, and Chick-fil-A. If you need to pick up anything, there’s a Walmart as well. Or if you continue down Rochambeau Drive past Great Wolf Lodge, you’ll reach the delicious Pierce’s Pitt BBQ!
– Pack a separate bag with your swim gear. You can start using the waterpark at 1pm on the day you arrive, and all day the day you check out, but you might not be allowed into your room until 4pm and have to check out by 11am. If your swim stuff is separate, you can head straight for the pool and change in the changing rooms. (I only saw three changing/shower stalls in the women’s area, however, which seemed insufficient)
Lockers are available to rent for $10 a day. We skipped the rental, and I just shoved my keys in our swim bag. Everyone leaves their clothes and towels on a table/surrounding chairs (It’s a good idea to claim a prime spot early in the day!)
You don’t need to bring towels – they are provided at the entrance to the waterpark (and are extremely scratchy I might add. No temptation to pilfer them)
DO bring warm cover-ups, like a zip-up sweatshirt, for the air-conditioned walk back to your room.
– If you have older kids, anticipate a some pricey extras. Thankfully, my four-year-old was blissfully oblivious to all the alluring things for sale, but elementary age and older will certainly realize that there is a kids spa, mini golf, a big arcade, and game involving wands. As someone who enjoyed the computer game Myst as a kid, I thought the MagiQuest game looked like a fun activity down the road when my son is older. You have to buy a wand (I didn’t check the price, but I think they are $20 or $25) and pay $10 for a game.
– “Suite” just means it has a fridge. As a mom with little ones who need their naps in peace, this is one of my pet peeves about hotels that advertise suites. To me, a suite has a separate bedroom with a door, but most hotels disagree with my definition, making it difficult to book rooms because the descriptions are often unclear.
(Great Wolf Lodge calls this a Queen Sofa Suite)
I greatly appreciate the floorplans and room views included on the website, so at least I know what I’m getting. The reason I finally booked a stay was that RichmondMom had a bargain for premium suites – $149.99 for rooms that were $389 (!) at full price. I snapped up a Grizzly Bear Suite, which is HUGE, with two separate bedrooms and big living space.
It was more than ample for the two boys, my mom, and I, and could sleep six in comfort. The only thing I would change is I wish it came with a bigger table and more than two chairs. Oh, and a better balcony view (future home of a car dealership):
The biggest recommendation for the resort was the fact that everywhere I looked, people were having a great time. Great Wolf Lodge definitely knows what it’s doing!
What are your tips for great stays at Great Wolf Lodge (saving money or in general)?
The Westin Richmond hotel, located near W Broad and Glenside, is offering $89 rates on weekends (Friday or Saturday check-in) (regularly $139). Most weekends are available through the end of 2012.
The rate code is FACEBO. Two other Starwood Hotels – Sheraton Richmond Park South Hotel
(9901 Midlothian Turnpike) and Aloft Richmond West (3939 Duckling Drive, Glen Allen) – may also offer a discount with that code.
A Special Offer for our Friends
Find all the personal touches you need to retreat from the rigors of travel and emerge revitalized and renewed. Relax and rejuvenate at our award winning hotel with a special rate exclusive to our Facebook friends.
If you’re looking for a one-night getaway, TravelZoo has a special offer for dinner and a night at the Berkeley Hotel:
Stay-and-dine package for 2 at the AAA 4-Diamond Berkeley Hotel in Richmond for $149 through April 12 (reg. $286)
$149 for a 1-night weekend stay, Friday or Saturday, in a Premium guest room (reg. $195)
$199 for a 1-night weekday stay, Sunday-Thursday, in a Premium guest room (reg. $269)
*Includes $80 to spend on dinner at the hotel’s acclaimed Dining Room
*Complimentary valet parking (reg. $21)
RichmondMom.com has another great discount offer for two dates in March at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg: $159 for a Family Suite on Friday March 23 or Saturday March 24, using code 0312RICH.
Kate let me know about a special discount on Great Wolf Lodge rooms available for RichmondMom.com readers:
Even if you’ve been before, the holidays are a great time to plan a trip to Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg where it’s always warm in the waterpark and it “snows” each night at storytime in the lobby!
Just use code 1211RICH to get an unbelievable rate of $149 per night (family suite) which is a huge Great Wolf Lodge Discount on 12/19/11–just in time for school letting out. There are a limited number of rooms at this rate, so it’s first-come, first-served; thanks for understanding!
If you can’t go on the 19th, the Richmond Mom Savvy Saver card code RICH230A can save you 20% off best available rates!
If you’re looking for a fall family getaway, check out the 48-Hour Sale for Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, going on now through 10am Friday. Autumn rates start at $149.99 a night.
The 40th anniversary of Virginia is for Lovers just got more exciting, with the launch of Virginia’s 40 Off Travel Deals, a statewide program with nearly 200 participating partners offering discounts and deals that make travel in Virginia up to 40 percent off.
Here are the Richmond promotions:
» Historic luxury awaits! Take 40% off your stay at The Jefferson Hotel and apply it toward an experience at The Salon at The Jefferson (or not). Valid through 12/30/09.
» A posh Parlour Suite at Linden Row Inn can be yours for a very attractive 40% off. Luxury and elegance this cheap? Yep, and right in Richmond’s historic Fan District. Valid through 12/31/09.
» The (stunning) Berkeley Hotel is offering an amazing 40% off their newly renovated guest rooms, and are throwing in breakfast, too! Plus, when you book a Richmond City Van Tour for three, the fourth goes free!
» Stay in Richmond’s Historic Fan District four nights for the price of three when you book a room at The William Miller House B&B. Take in the art, history and great dining of Virginia’s capitol city. Valid through 12/15/09.
» When three visit Henricus Historical Park, a fourth can get in free! Henricus is a 32-acre living-history museum located along the scenic James River. The Citie of Henricus, dating from 1611 – 1622, contains 12 re-created structures. Watch for special events! Valid through 12/31/09.
» Bring three of your ghost-loving friends along for a Haunts of Richmond Walking Ghost Tour and you go free! Valid through 9/30/09.
Visit the 40 Off website for other $40 off, 40% off, and “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” deals around the state.
If you’re going to be traveling through Dulles Airport or visiting DC over a holiday weekend, check out this promotion being run by some hotels in Fairfax County:
Plan a two-night weekend stay at participating hotels in December and January and your Saturday rate will be as low as the temperature outside!…
There’s no escaping the winter chill. So why not embrace it with a value-packed, weekend getaway to Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC? Fairfax County is always a smart place to stay, boasting central access to the area’s most popular attractions. Better yet, when you stay one night at regular room rates at one of our participating hotels, your Saturday rate will be determined by the outside temperature at Dulles International Airport at 12 Noon.
The fine print clarifies that no money will be refunded in the unlikely event that the midday temperature is below 0 degrees. And the weekend of January 17-20 is blacked out, for obvious reasons.
You can search participating hotels and prices through the website. Depending on expected temperatures during your stay, this might or might not be a good deal. But it could make the cold weather a little more palatable 🙂