WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg is a hotel worth planning a vacation around.
"It's like a cruise ship on land," said Cathy Chaplain, director of sales and marketing for the property. "There is so much to do here. But if you want to leave and do something else, you can."
The 405-suite property, located in Williamsburg, Va., is one of several of the indoor water park resorts around the country. The rooms are uniquely and comfortably appointed - down to the clothes line for drying bathing suits in the bathroom - and decorated true to the lodge theme. Premium suites with bunk beds and cabin playsets for youngsters are also available.
It's the water park that is the central draw. There's also an outdoor pool for the summer months, but the resort is a year-round property with its 67,000-square-foot indoor water park. There are slides and rides for the smallest visitors and the most daring. Each one-night reservation includes two days admittance to the water parks and pools.
Simu-surf on the Flow Rider, float along on the lazy river, surge through the Howlin' Tornado or wait for the 1,000-gallon bucket on top of Fort Mackenzie to dump on unsuspecting heads.
There are dry activities, too - an RC car race track, a video game arcade and the MagicQuest interactive game will entertain the entire family. There's also a kid-friendly spa, where the chairs are shaped like banana splits and the spa treatments are scented like ice cream. It's topped off with a visit to the on-site ice cream parlor across the hall.
Dining options in the resort are respectably priced. The breakfast buffet is one of the best - and tastiest - values in the area, and local businesses will deliver to your room as well. The hotel guide lists delivery options for several different types of food, plus there's a convenient all-night mega-retailer about a half a mile down the road for the middle of the night munchies.
The concierge desk at the property offers discounted tickets to area attractions, such as Busch Gardens, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and the surrounding historical theme parks.
New this year is Project Green Wolf. The entire property chain was given the Green Seal certification for its environmentally friendliness.
As part of the green initiative, water usage was decreased. Water from the pools and water park is recycled using pool filtration technology; showers, faucets, toilets and urinals are high-efficiency, and guests are asked to recycle linens, if possible. Recycling bins are located throughout the property, and employees compost food waste and donate unused food items to local charities. Appliances and bulbs are energy efficient, and paper products are all made from recycled material.
This spring, the Williamsburg property celebrated the certification with the planting of a dogwood tree in the front lawn. Local elementary students helped with the planting.
In all, the Great Wolf Lodge is a magical place where the maintenance workers keep balloons in their pockets and every turn provides another opportunity for family fun.