We just got back from four nights and five days at the Kalahari Resort. I hope this review is helpful.
Reservations - When we initially called to make the reservations about 3 weeks in advance we were quoted $601.00 for three nights (Monday - Thursday) in the Lodge Room. We waited until 2 weeks and got a GREAT deal. Four nights (Monday - Friday) in the Lodge Room, 2 adult breakfasts, $80 in spa credit, $40 in dinner credit, water park and theme park access for the duration of our trip, 2 monster cocktails, 2 games of bowling, 1 lg pizza, 2 fountain sodas for an end cost of $746. The person that took our reservation (Agate) was EXTREMELY kind and set the tone for our vacation.
Arrival - We were a little disappointed that we couldn't get into our room until after 4pm. But understandable since that is the time we were told. The line was a bit long. We checked into the Sands Building. There should have been one line for check-out and one line for check-in.
Room - Beyond our expectation. The room was perfect for myself, husband and our two children (2 1/2 and 4 1/2). The sofa sleeper is rather uncomfortable for my hubby and I, but fine for the kids. The kitchen itself is perfect, has all the amenities of home, very large fridge. Everything worked great. The balcony was very nice as we are smokers and utilized it quite a bit. The bathtub was amazing. Jets worked great. Water temperature was perfect. Everything about the room was PERFECT. Would highly recommend the Lodge Room. It is quite a bit of a walk, but the hotel has a two-seated "car" stroller that was only $5 per day to rent and was well worth it since at the end of the night the kids were pretty tired to make the walk. I would have no issues with renting this room again.
Service - The service at the sweet shop was horrible. We patronized it every day and never received good service. The sweets are to die for, but at one point I wanted to tell the gal behind the counter (sorry, forgot her name) to either smile or get a new job. The waiters and bartenders at Kahounaville were the best by far. Very accommodating and very polite. Waterpark staff left little to be desired, except for the lifeguards as they were very helpful assisting getting our young ones on and off the attractions. I have stayed at many resorts throughout the US and I will say that I was rather disappointed with the overall service. It was either GREAT or HORRIBLE.
Spa - Would NEVER do again. Not even with $80 credit. We got a couple's massage and after leaving an 18% tip it was still $191.00 for a 50 minute massage. I realize you pay "resort prices" but the massage, although relaxing, wasn't worth the money. Doing it over, we would have just gotten a simple pedicure and called it a day.
Waterpark - Better than expected. There is something to do for all ages. I wish the ice cream stand would have been open one of the days but I realize we went during off-peak season, but then it should be removed. I think an "empty" vender is quite tacky. Our little ones LOVED all the attractions for their ages. If the kids would have been older, we would have spent the entire day there. I don't understand why nothing but food and beverages purchased "on property" are allowed in the waterpark. This is quite unfair to those of us that have small children than "snack" non-stop. The Zulu Grille doesn't open until 11am and we were there at 9am when the park opened. Our kids were hungry by 10:30am and we had to purchase pretzels, cheetos, and water at the snack bar for a ridiculous price. If I could have been able to bring in small snacks or a sandwich for the kids it would have been much better. We thought of renting a Cabana but after knowing that we couldn't bring in our own snacks we opted out. Again, we spent WAY too much. One slice of pizza was $5. Carrots and dip were $3. Chicken sandwich $10 with fries. Soda $2. So one person for lunch was between $12 and $15. The food was good, but about the quality of Culvers. Crazy expensive. Make sure your belly's are full upon entrance.
Theme Park & Arcade Games - Not many rides that accommodate young children. We spent two additional days in the Dells before we arrived at the Kalahari and the Theme Park at Knuckleheads was much better. Our 2 1/2 yo LOVED the Ferris Wheel and Go Karts. However, the first time "David" (who was one of the nicest staff members) never asked his age and then the while we were getting off the ride and got back in line they had a shift change and the new person told us he couldn't ride. He SAW us get out of the go Karts as he came on his shift. My husband said he was 4. Both our boys just kept getting off and going right back in line. The Go Karts were a blast. However, the requirement of a 4 year old is ridiculous. It should just be that if they don't meet the height requirement they should be able to ride with a responsible adult. The soft play area is worth the price of admission (which is free!) It was a great place for my husband and I to relax with a cup of coffee at the end of the night and really wear out the kids for bed. In the same area is a carousel, swings and an airplane ride. Again, the height requirements are ridiculous. Our youngest couldn't ride the airplane and our oldest was too tall for the swings. We have been to MANY theme parks and never have encountered this issue before. So, although we had free wrist bands for the rides, we felt there just wasn't enough rides at this theme park compared to others we visited in the Dells. The arcade games are WAY too expensive. We spent HUNDREDS of dollars on games, proudly gathering tickets during the entire week to walk away with two coffee mugs, a Dora pen, and a large slinky (combined retail cost MAYBE $25). I wish they could have tracked how much was put on our Kalahari Fun Cards from start to finish, if it was a place like Vegas, I have a feeling our entire trip would have been "comped".
Bowling - The bowling alley is BEAUTIFUL. Unfortunately when we arrived there was only 1 person on staff. We bowled one game and didn't receive our lunch until the 9th frame. It took FOREVER to get two sodas and two waters and the bar didn't open until 4pm. The gal that was there I felt so sorry for. Although you could see how frustrated she was because she couldn't clone herself to be in five places at once to help all the people that were waiting, she kept a smile on her face and apologized left and right. (Attention Kalahari Management...look at who was working about 1pm on Friday, February 24th and thank her...because if it wasn't for her positive attitude we would have been irate).
Restaurants - Amazing. We ate at Damons and the Great Karoo along with all the snack bars located throughout the facilities. Although pricey, the food was fantastic. I would HIGHLY recommend the salmon at Damons and the breakfast buffet at Karoo. Although we brought plenty of food to cook in the room, we found that the food was so amazing we ate out much more than intended.
All in all, this resort was very nice. We would stay again if we received a similar package. Although we got a great deal on the room, we definitely made up for it on how much we spent while on the property (don't ask...ouch). Although if you think about it, that is even better for the resort because I would much rather get a great deal on the stay and then be able to not be on a "budget" with all the amenities they have to offer. We tried booking it for the same time next year and they said that the packages don't come out until 3 or 4 months before the time to book. That was very disappointing.
I would definitely recommend this resort to anyone looking for a great time. Although it sounds like I pointed out the flaws of the resort, we really would stay again. I would just put ourselves on a tighter budget with how much we spent on the property and not let myself get caught up in the excitement.
One last tip - if they have the Lion Cubs there. SPEND THE $50 getting a picture! That was one thing we had NO PROBLEM doing. The handler let us spend time after the picture with the cub petting him, answered questions we had about the wildlife park where they were from and although the picture wasn't to our expectations, the ability to actually spend time with such a majestic creature is a memory we will hold onto forever!