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“Great idea, not so great follow-through” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Great Wolf Lodge

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Great Wolf Lodge
3.0 of 5 Resort   |   20500 Old Highway 99, SW, Centralia, WA 98531   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #3 of 10 Hotels in Centralia
Seattle, Washington
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Great idea, not so great follow-through”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2008

Here in the Pacific Northwest, families long for something like what Great Wolf has to offer. The indoor park, something for kids of all ages and even adults, family time and time kids can do their own thing while parents do another yet be close by, etc. is such a well-needed concept here. Unfortunately, it was just the "idea" that kept us wanting to be positive about the visit. With over $350 a night, I would hope for a reasonable time of checking in, not after 5 p.m. and also reasonably courteous service. The front desk help repeated their basic "get over the wait time for check in" statement with some superficial empathy while they also overemphasized the statement that is noted in your reservation that check-in BEGINS at 4 p.m. My husband thought they must have some SERIOUS cleaning guidelines if check out is at 11 a.m. and they can get only some families in by dinner time and the rest well after dinner. I had the unfortunate run-in to see the "head" housekeeper (well, she was directing others) taking a smoke break on one of the guestrooms' balconies. This just made us even more disappointedas she would have been the one we complain to about not getting any bath towels after two requests. And, even though she was on the balcony, the whole floor wreaked of smoke. We continued walking down the hall as our room was at the very end , to see that housekeeping must have recruited their boyfriends for help. They were not quiet about it; as a matter of fact, we could hear them discussing how helpful they were and that the head of housekeeping should also pay them. Now although some may think this is a nice gesture, most others would think this is quite unprofessional let alone EVERYONE's valuables are at stake.
As far as dining, yes, there are some options. We enjoyed the Pizza Hut pizza and Hot WIngs the most! We would recommend to save your money and opt for the buffet since the restauant food is taken from the same kitchen/menu as the buffet but the cost is much higher.
The waterpark was a lot of fun. No need to bring your own life jackets, they are provided and of great quality. Many guests like to reserve seats but you never ever see them sit in those seats so plan accordingly. Lockers are avaialble for $15, you get part of it back when you give back the key at the end of the night.
The arcade is great for all kids and the games are of good choice. Prepare to spend much money. Most games are at least 50 cents and some are up to 2 dollars.
The cub club or whatever it is called had some fun activities in there - craft like activities. We were looking forward to doing that we didn't need to spend $10 craft that could be easily made at home for nothing.
I did splurge and spend a whopping $45 (less 10% discount) on my little girl's pedicure. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. The ice cream theme is creative and quite appealing to my 3 year old.
Well, I think I covered all the aspects that we experienced at Great Wolf. I thought it was important to share our visit as it was very helpful to read everyone else's reviews.
Like I said in the beginning, Great Wolf Lodge has such a needed concept for those of us here in the Northwest who don't always get to experience the warm weather and are in search of a family activity. Unfortunately, they are far from all-inclusive and are in dire need of professional management who can demonstrate customer-service so as to keep patrons coming back as opposed to focusing on a single visit. So, do prepare to pay a huge amount for all aspects of your visit. We saved for this, but we are still not convinced that it was a $1000 well spent for a two-night vacation. We may have thought otherwise if we didn't experience such unprofessional housekeeping and guest service.

  • Liked — The many and diverse activities for people of all ages
  • Disliked — Food quality, housekeeping conduct, check in/out times, mediocre service, spending too much for such low quality
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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811 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (212)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
13 reviews 13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2008

We stayed at the GWL on Saturday April 26th. I want to thank the former reviewers, as we arrived very prepared!
I will agree on these top tips:
--Arrive EARLY. We were in "line" at about 12:40 on Saturday & waited about 10 minutes. We were able to check in & get our room with no problems!
--Wear water shoes. I saw MANY people both days being treated by the lifegards for cuts/scrapes on their feet.
--Bring your patience with the elevator! They were still having troubles with the elevator. If you see an open elevator, GET ON, even if it is going the wrong direction. Otherwise you will wait and wait.
--Pack your own snacks and breakfast. I brought us B-fast sandwiches, juice, fruit and yogurts and they worked perfectly with the in-room fridge and microwave. This also helped when faced with the cost of the buffet (see below).

The GWL knows that they are appealing to families and seem to have clued in on what families visiting there will want.
--Wristbands--These are the BOMB! Each person gets a waterproof bracelet that serves as your room key, park pass and if you want them to, is programmed to be able to charge things to your room. I had them program mine and my husbands only. This let us go out of our room hands free, since we locked our valuables in the free in room safe. This also eliminated the need for a locker in the water park since we did not have anything of value with us.
--The place is VERY family friendly. Of course there is the waterpark, but there are other things for the kids to do around every corner. (arcade, ice cream & treats, kid spa, teen game room) They have really made this a family resort. Even down to the fun bath/shower gel in the room for the kids. It seemed very safe there, with lots of employees and even security guards seen in the lobby area.
--The room. We had a kid cabin, which is perfect for a family of five. There was a fun cabin with three beds for the kids and around the corner the gas fireplace in the "adult" area was very relaxing. Yes, the bathroom is small, but after all the waterpark soakings, we just needed a shower to rinse off and the one in our room was adequate. (loved the vanilla soaps provided) The room was clean and nice, as expected from a new facility.

My husband and I agreed that this was a wonderful vacation for us and our three boys (ages 8, 11, &13). The waterpark is fantasic--and there is something for everyone! The lifeguards are ever present, but are not overbearing. They all appeared very clean cut and acted friendly. We had no problem with enough towels! The rides were all very fun and the lines were not bad at all. (lines for snacks were slow however) Be sure to go back in the evening, as our older kids and my husband rode the Howlin' Tornado again (twice) after dark and said it was AWESOME!

As with ANY resort, you have to expect resort prices on things, so you should just work that into your budget. The buffet (they serve breakfast and dinner only) was expensive ($17.95 for those over 10 & adults and $8.95 for kids 10 & under) but compared to getting back into the car and going down the freeway to find something in an area we did not know, it was worth it. The food at the buffet was also more upsale (crab, shrimp, prime rib, chinese food, salad bar and a special food bar for kids --to mention a little of it). There is a close-by McDonald's & Dairy Queen at exit 88 (the one for GWL) if you just want fast food. Anyway, my husband and I ate at the buffet, but the boys really wanted Pizza Hut Express, which worked for us! We first tried to go to the other restaurant, but it is VERY small and there was an hour wait. They did offer a pager, but we opted to pass. The boys loved getting a fun snack (Dippin' Dots were $4.00 each--go to the machine upstairs--much faster!) and had lots of fun at the arcade. They enjoyed saving up their tickets to buy something to bring home.

Overall I think that the highly negative reviews are pretty harsh, as I did not see anyone without a smile on their face the whole time! Well, maybe the ones who were in a very long check-in line as we were leaving were not so happy! Hopefully this is the start of the GWL working their start up kinks out, because everyone we saw seemed to be happy and having a good time. After all, isn't that what a family weekend away is all about?

  • Liked — Wristbands, waterpark, arcade, themed details throughout, complimentary soaps
  • Disliked — elevator, lines for snacks, whole park not completed yet
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2008

After reading the reviews I was a little worried but decided to go anyway. We were traveling with 3 adults and children ages 5,8,10,13 and 15 years old. Everyone had a fabulous time!!!!....we were originally staying Tuesday through Thursday but extended our stay till Friday because EVERYONE was having so much fun. I really can't think of one thing I could complain about if I had to, and we travel ALOT, always staying at 5 star hotels and resorts. We got there on Tuesday (4-22) at about 2:15. There was PLENTY of great parking spaces. I walked in and was amazed that I didn't see a line to check in. I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a VERY professional staff that were even VERY kind to the excited, wild and anxious children I had with me that were begging to get their wristbands.... I never encountered anything but pleasant personalities and smiles during check in......and best of all our rooms were already ready.....I was shocked!!!! (2 family suites each at 197.00 a night) Went to the rooms; I thought they were great and honestly was surprised for the price how spacious they were (except for the bathroom). Honestly, I felt like we got a deal, I was surprised they didn't charge more for the rooms (we just finished paying 900.00 and 1000.00 a night in Hawaii and New York for rooms that were comparable to these). We then went to the waterpark...NO LINES ON ANYTHING!!!!! You walked up (the long flight of stairs....great exercise) and hopped right on! Wave pool was great and not crowded a bit, except I noticed Friday morning seemed to be getting busier than what we had been seeing earlier in the week. Lifeguards (most of them) were friendly and initiated conversation. The kids LOVED the teen center and loved playing Guitar Hero ...We didn't buy any of the food from the lodge but instead did runs to McDonalds (very close), Taco Bell and Jack in the box (little farther out )..I'm sure we saved a ton by doing this....and each time I left I came back to a very close parking spot. Friday when we departed, check out was very painless, they just reviewed my bill with me and I was asked if we had a great time......Yes we did!!!!
Ok, a few things....were the elevators slow???Yes sometimes, but why stand there and wait....if possible take 25 seconds out and take the stairs. Is the food there expensive?? I don't know I didn't even look...bring your own drinks, the fridge is plenty big enough...and eat off-site. All you need is the basic family suite room, it's plenty big enough and we were barely in it. ..Bring watershoes...I did notice kids with hurt toes...and try and stay on a weekday, I think this will make a HUGE difference (my friend went on the weekend and said it was pretty crowded)...... We had a BLAST and will be going back soon.

  • Liked — waterpark & free internet
  • Disliked — wish the waterpark was a little bit larger
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, OR
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2008

I read the reviews of this hotel before our trip and I am glad that we had realistic expectations before getting there. We are a family of 4 traveling with a 3 year old boy and a 20 month old girl. We stayed for 2 nights on a Sunday to a Tuesday and booked the wolf den suite.

Room: As stated in earlier reviews, our room was not ready at check-in of 4pm. This is really annoying. They should have these housekeeping issues worked out by now. The hotel has numerous carts you can use to haul your own luggage. This was something else we had to wait for them to round up. Also, the doors are not automatic so you have to hold the door open while trying to push your big cart through. Our room was finally ready by 5:15pm. Once we got to the room, we loved it. We had everything we needed. The kids loved the wolf den suite. My son slept on the top bunk bed and my daughter slept on the bottom. She sleeps in a toddler bed at home so we just brought a rail to put on the bottom mattress so she wouldn't fall out. This worked great. It was wonderful for them to have their own area that stayed dark so we could watch tv when they went to bed. The only bad part was the sink was right across from it so when we wanted to brush our teeth we had to be really quiet. Also, the bathroom (which contained the toilet and shower was REALLY small) I don't know if it's like that in all rooms or just the wolf den suite to make room for the bunk beds. The housekeeping did a great job the next morning. When we came back to the room in the afternoon everything was done as it should be.

Water Park: The water park was great. They had a really nice area specifically for children as small as ours. My son had a blast riding on the waverunners, squirting the guns, going down the slides, pressing the levers, etc. My daugher loved to walk around and explore and shouted with glee many times. The Howling Tornado is awesome. My husband and I would take turns every now and then riding them while the other watched the kids. Unfortunately, on our last day there, the children's area of the water park was closed. Since it was our last day, my son was so excited to go back one last time. He was devastated it was closed. It was closed for maintenance. No one told us it would be closed. I did complain to the manager about it. He said the hotel made phone calls to everyone in advance that it would be closed. We never received a phone call. There was another lady complaining with me and she never got a phone call either. I didn't understand if the park is closed from 9pm to 9am why they couldn't do maintenance then? I did not get much sympathy from the manager. He did agree to give a small credit but it was not nearly enough to cover the disappointment that ended our trip on a sour note.

Food: The food is HORRIBLE and expensive. The earlier posts about bringing your own food for breakfast and lunch is good advice and I'm glad we did. We did not eat in the Bear Claw pastry area or the sit down restaurant. Thank goodness they had a pizza hut there. We had sub sandwiches from the water park cafe and it was basically all bread for $6 each. There wasn't enough mustard or mayo to make it taste good. The buffet was also very disappointing. Not a lot of flavor. The prime rib was so tough my husband's meat landed on his lap he was exerting so much effort trying to cut it. Since our kids were so little they were free thank goodness (3 and under free) They did have a nice selection of food for the little ones. Honestly, I think their food was better than ours. If we ever go again, we will take food for breakfast again and just plan on pizza hut for dinner. Also, there is no room service so you have to go out and get the food yourself, even the pizza. I tried to call from the room to order the pizza so I wouldn't have to wait when I got there but they disconnected me twice so I gave up.

Hotel Property: The hotel is very beautiful. The lobby is tall with indoor trees and the kids really got a kick out of the clock tower. It is a total family resort. There are kids everywhere and everything is geared for them. This makes it very fun. The carpet was worn going up the stairs already which I was surprised to see since the hotel is only about a month old. Also, the garbage cans have cute little squirrels on them which is nice, expect my daughter kept wanting to touch them and hence be touching the garbage can. The hotel had a lot of great amenities. Cub Club and a spa (neither of which we used due to time) arcade, gift shop, and numerous eating places.

Since were there mostly during the week we didn't encounter the long lines that were mentioned in earlier posts. On Tuesday the day we left it was pretty much empty.

The park was only open to 9pm and I thought that was a little early to close. 10pm was be more appropriate.

Most of the trip was a very good time. I probably would have had a better review had the children's area of the park not been closed on the last day and the management been nicer and more accomodating.

  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
everett, wa
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2008

I reserved a family suite, on the waterpark level four weeks prior, for two nights during spring break. After reading reviews, I decided NOT to arrive early to save myself undue stress and disappointment waiting in line. My daughers' and I arrive, Monday, April 7; fashionably late (approx.5pm) to encounter a line. After waiting in check-in line for 25 minutes, we were told that "our room was not ready"; I told the hotel clerk that "this was not acceptable" Then the hotel clerk radioed to housekeeping, and said THAT IT WAS READY. When we found our room, it WAS NOT on the waterpark level which I paid $30/nt extra. So, back we go . . . .to the front desk. They were very unpleasant when I requested the room that I reserved 4 weeks in advance.
We finally settled into our room //waterpark level at 6:15 pm; which I found unacceptable.

My three daughters, ages 12,14 and15; enjoyed the waterpark that evening. The slides were fun and the area was warm and clean.

The next morning (tuesday) at 6AM; we awaken to a fire alarm. Strobe lights are blinking, we can't find our shoes~~~so we find the stairwell~~~stand outside in the cold rain for about ten minutes (along with all the other guests). When we were allowed back in . . .they announced over intercom . . ."We're sorry for the inconveniance . ." That's it, no explanation . . .

I think that Great Wolf Lodge should have compensated all the hotel guests with a complimentary breakfast buffet. Instead, I paid $75 for breakfast . . .one adult, three teenagers , , ,the buffet cost $17.95 for persons over age 10! The service was great and the food was good but I've never spent that amount for breakfast before . . . .

Need I continue . . . .well . . .I will . . .at CHECK-OUT . . .you again must WAIT IN LINE . . . .if you have any question about your room bill . . . .!!!!

CUSTOMER SERVICE will never be a priority at Great Wolf Lodge (east coast mentality). They have been open for a month//and they're level of service HAS NOT changed in spite of the bad reviews.

Expect the worst . . . so you won't be disappointed!

  • Liked — the waterpark was clean
  • Disliked — the staff at the front desk //worst customer service I've encountered in over 15 years!!!
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Great Wolf Lodge

Address: 20500 Old Highway 99, SW, Centralia, WA 98531
Location: United States > Washington > Centralia
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 10 Hotels in Centralia
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Great Wolf Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 398
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Great Wolf Hotel Centralia
Great Wolf Resort
Great Wolf Lodge Washington/Centralia

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