What a howl!
Great Wolf Lodge, the first major and innovative resort to plant itself in the Poconos in more than 20 years, celebrated its grand opening late last month in Scotrun, Pa., as popular television host Regis Philbin led the attending crowd in a howl heard clear across the country on CNN.
"This is really spectacular," Philbin exclaimed, in the Grand Lobby of the four-story, log-sided resort. He acknowledged the swarm of families,with children of all ages, anxious to get to the star attraction of the new resort: the $92 million indoor waterpark, said to be the first one in the Northeast and one of the largest of its kind in the country.
The Pocono Mountains have long enjoyed a reputation as a four-season resort area, offering multigenerations a vacation of diverse activities and attractions. And the creation of this successful resort concept was quite accidental.
One cold winter in the mid-1990s, two men in the building industry, co-founders Bruce Neviaser and Marc Vaccaro, were driving through the Wisconsin Dells and saw a sign, Black Wolf Lodge. Surprised and impressed at the full parking lot that time of year, the men went inside, saw the indoor waterpark and immediately liked the concept.
The entrepreneurs purchased the property in 1999, changed the name to Great Wolf Lodge and added new amenities. The first new resort by the owners was built in Sanduskey, Ohio, in 2001. Today, based in Wisconsin, Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., recognized as the nation's leader in indoor waterpark destination resorts, owns and/or manages family resorts in five Midwest locations.
In December, Great Wolf Lodge became a public company with plans that show its continuing growth. This year, it opened a resort in Williamsburg, Va., and plans are to build resorts in Niagara Falls, Ontario; Mason, Ohio; Chelhalis, Wash.; and Grapevine, Texas in 2007.
There are 11 different waterslides, including the Hydro Plunge family water roller-coaster in which guests travel uphill in a ride that totals 727 feet and features a 52-foot vertical drop. The most popular features, appealing to all ages, are the high-speed body slides and inner-tube waterslides that wind in and out of the building into either the pool, the river or the large free-form hot tubs.
Also in this complex are six pools, including a massive indoor wave pool, recreation pool, lazy river and a zero-depth entry pool for even the youngest water fans.
The waterpark is staffed by 100 lifeguards nationally certified by a leading aquatic safety-training company. It is open daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., and is available only to Great Wolf Lodge guests.
Defying the weather outdoors, the temperature is always 84 degrees inside the mammoth waterpark. Guests can rent a waterproof digital camera if they want to capture the joyful moments at the waterpark.
The accommodations at Great Wolf Lodge offer something truly different. Approximately 270 to 400 families have a choice of 10 different suite configurations, including standard and premier layouts.
Sleeping With … Wolves
A variety of suites includes the two-bedroom Grizzly Bear Suite which can sleep up to eight; the Loft Fireplace Suite; and the children's themed suites, including the Wolf Den, KidCabin and KidKamp, each complete with its own cozy private "room within a room" for kids. Most kid suites have television and video games.
The spacious suites open onto a large deck or patio overlooking the scenic mountainside. In addition to the super-size waterpark, the fun for kids of all ages seems to go on endlessly. Young ones find countless games at a Northern Lights Arcade, a 6,000-square-foot arcade with ticket redemption center.
Eating is also a fun-time activity with guests choosing from Camp Critter Bar & Grille, a themed family restaurant and bar, and the Loose Moose Cottage, a gourmet buffet.
Every day at 8 p.m. in the Grand Lobby – which seems more like a warm, cozy living room – an animated show takes place with talking trees and animals who come to life and sing the lessons of "Rhythm of Nature." This is followed by "Story Time With Wiley the Wolf," the resort's mascot, in front of a massive fireplace in the lobby.
Now, what's in it for the parents?
With so much for kids to enjoy from morning till night, Great Wolf also offers parents a time for themselves to enjoy a bit of pampering. A full-service Aveda Concept Spa called Elements features more than a dozen massage selections, facial therapy and other relaxing treatments.
As Tina Levitt of Philadelphia commented, "My husband took the children to the waterpark while I came here to completely unwind. I love it!"
To learn more, call 1-800-768-WOLF (9653) or go to: greatwolflodge.com.