Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Great Wolf Lodge - Great for Teens?

Inside the Howlin' Tornado. (Photo: Great Wolf Lodge)

A travel review of the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a stay at a Great Wolf Lodge (GWL) would be a hit with little children, but what about teens? Is there enough to do to entertain them without making them feel like a little kid? To find out, our family visited the Grand Mound location in Washington state. We have two teen boys, ages 18 and 14, and we have never been to a Great Wolf Lodge Resort before.

A Little History
The very first GWL opened in 1997 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Since then, 11 more have opened, most on the East Coast with a few more currently in development. Each location’s main feature is the indoor waterpark plus a few more activities, restaurants and shopping. Every room comes with free passes to the waterpark. In fact, you can’t visit the waterpark without staying at the resort.

Inside the "basic" hotel room. (Photo: Great Wolf Lodge)
First Impressions
Both our teens were very impressed as were we with the look and the layout of the Grand Mound location. Very upscale and yet very comfortable. While the resort has been in operation since 2008, it still looks brand new. Very neat, clean and woodsy. We stayed in one of the “basic” rooms which exceeded our expectations. It came with two queen beds, a sofa, dining table, mini fridge, microwave and a high vaulted ceiling. Almost all of the furniture is made with natural wood, keeping with the lodge theme.

Our boys couldn’t wait to walk around to see all there was to do. We let them go while I went to the Starbucks just down the hall and my wife looked over the guidebook in the room. The coffee shop was just like any other except that it had slightly inflated prices, but also had an incredibly nice and helpful staff who knew a lot about the resort.

Outside of the Howlin' Tornado. (Photo: Great Wolf Lodge)
We quickly learned that guidebook was quite out of date. It stated that the lodge had a “teen lounge” that offered video games as well as a place for teens to hang out. However, it had been converted to a family attraction. The on-site Pizza Hut no longer existed either. It had been turned into the “Hungry as a Wolf” take-out pizza shop. Ironically, the guidebook listed both pizza places and when we called to place our order, we found that the resort had already changed the menu.

When our boys returned, they were less excited than they were when they left. They too discovered that the teen lounge was no longer there. They also discovered that just about every activity in the lodge would cost an additional fee, and for that, they were bummed.

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