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“The room was great but the waterparks were TOO CROWDED” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Wilderness on the Lake

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Wilderness on the Lake
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350 E. Hiawatha Dr., Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #10 of 72 Hotels in Wisconsin Dells
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Madison, Wisconsin
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“The room was great but the waterparks were TOO CROWDED”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2008

If you are in the market to book a great 2 or 3 bedroom condo during the summer in the Dells, then this is the place. The condos are spacious and the jacuzzi is very nice. But, if you are booking in the winter, and hoping to enjoy the indoor water parks, then check out the Great Wolf instead.

We booked a condo in February to celebrate our son's birthday with several of his friends. The kids couldn't wait... TO LEAVE! Our trip will go down as one of those unfortunate "live-and-learn" experiences where we wasted way too much money and had way too little fun. The 3 small indoor water parks are woefully inadequate to accommodate a resort full of guests in the winter. We did a lot of walking and standing, but not much swimming and sliding. People were everywhere: The lazy river felt more like a log-jam, the hot tubs looked like people-soup, it was standing-room only in the wave pool and you could walk around for an hour looking for a chair to park your towel.

To make matters even worse, Wilderness on the Lake guests must take a 15 minute shuttle ride to access the water parks. When we booked the room, the rep made this sound like no big deal "because shuttles are available every 5 minutes". This is just untrue. We usually waited 10-15 minutes, sometimes longer for the very crowded shuttle. Then, once you get to the main building, the 3 indoor water parks are located at least a 1/4 mile away from each other, which means get ready for long walks down crowded hallways in wet suits (skin chaffing anyone?). To quote one of our 11-year-old guests: "It pretty much sucked".

The crowding makes sense because the water parks are available to all of the guests at the Wilderness Lodge, the Wilderness on the Lake, the Wilderness Cabins AND the Glacier Canyon Lodge. They should limit the number of rooms they book in winter, but it would seem that once again greed trumps customer service. UPDATE: I wrote a letter to the Board of Directors to express my disappointment. I was later contacted by a rep who said that since the resort is "in the business to make money" (exact quote) they couldn't do anything for us except offer us advice on the less busy times of the year to book a room. Uh... no thanks. Make money off some other chump cuz' we ain't coming back. We've been to the Great Wolf in February and had a great time because they don't try to cram several resorts full of guests into one water park.

  • Liked — Nice room
  • Disliked — Water parks were too crowded
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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314 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (62)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Illinois
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2008

We stayed in a 2 bedroom condo for my son's 16th birthday. He brought along 4 friends. The condo was very roomy. It had a king bed in one room with a 2 head shower, 2 queens in another room with a seperate bath, living room with gas fireplace, dining area, full kitchen, jacuzzi room with sitting area and gas fireplace. There were 4 TVs and a shared porch/deck overlooking the lake. Very relaxing atmosphere. No deposit as mentioned in other reviews (they have your credit card and don't need it). Kids can shuttle to bigger parks, or you can take your car and park for free. Parks not too crowded. All in all a lovely experience. I have stayed in the hotel, and the vacation villas as well. All have their good points. Would go again. Could have fit 3 more in condo, as there is pull out couch in the living room and a fold up cot (or crib) in unit as well. Saved money as I brought food and didn't have to buy one overpriced, crummy meal for the whole trip.

  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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Wisconsin
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2008

We stayed at the Wilderness on the Lake in a 3 Bedroom Condo with a loft for the weekend of Feb. 22 - 24th.

I booked this condo to host a group of girls my sister’s bachelorette party. The group of girls that came are very laid back and are not wild and crazy so I thought this would be a great place to hang out for the weekend. I booked with the Wilderness over the phone and they were very helpful, I received a confirmation in the mail just days after I had booked. There was not a lot of information but I had stayed there before with my college dance team and I didn’t think it would be a problem to take a group of girls again.

Check in: It was a nightmare. There was only one person working and she also ran the gift shop next door. There was a long line when I arrived and I waited about 20 minutes. Everyone that was already checked in kept cutting in line to ask questions. Much to my surprise when I checked in I was required to put down $1000 for a security deposit. I was able to take care of it but was not thrilled that I wasn't told ahead of time. The woman working the front desk said that reservations kept forgetting to tell people. The 2 people in line behind me weren't informed about it either. Everyone in my group was also required to leave a photo copy of their driver’s license at the front desk even though everyone was 21 and up. You also have to sign your life away because you aren’t there for a family type activity. So be prepared to haul your group down to wait in line again to have their ID's copied and then remain paranoid all weekend that they are going to keep your $1,000 deposit even though you aren’t doing anything wrong.

Room: The condo was great, I probably could have gotten a 2 bedroom because I had a few girls back out last minute but having the extra space was fine too. DO NOT bring extra kitchen utensils because they supply everything that you could need. (Except coffee filters) We made full lunches and dinners and had everything that we needed. There are dishes for at least 16 people including steak knives, coffee cups, glasses, plates, bowls, silverware, etc... The Jacuzzi was our favorite part of the trip; the fireplaces were awesome as well.

We had 2 bedrooms; one with a king bed, the other with 2 double beds. The loft had 2 double beds and a pull out coach. The main living area also had a pull out couch. There is a rollaway in the closet as well. There is a washer and dryer (which are tiny) but great for wet swim suits. There is a crib in the bedroom closet. There are 2 full bathrooms, the one in the master bathroom has a shower only but it has 2 shower heads. The furniture was showing some wear and tear but nothing major. The TV made some unpleasant noises but we didn’t have it on much.

Waterparks: They were packed!!! The shuttle was great because when we decided we couldn’t handle all of the people and lines we could go right back to our Jacuzzi! We went back a couple hours before close and it was much better. Food is very expensive at the pool. I purchased onion rings and chicken strips and it was $13.25!!! There were plenty of towels, they were the typical tiny white pool towels with the blue stripe but they were warm from the dryer every time we grabbed one.

Area: We went to Marley's because they have a courtesy van that picks you up and drops you off. They were there 15 minutes after we called and they pulled the van right up to get us when we left. The driver was very friendly and we felt completely safe. We had no where to park at the resort so when we finally found a spot we weren’t about to give it up. The parking problem was mainly due to a heavy snowfall and the plows had made large piles that blocked many of the spots.
Paul Bunyan is closed until March.

Everyone had a great time but I was so nervous about my deposit that I had trouble enjoying myself. That is a lot of money for me. I think it would be a great place to take your family for a long weekend.

  • Liked — Condo type facility
  • Disliked — $1000 deposit that I didn't know about until check in
  • Stayed February 2008, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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.
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2008

We went to the Wilderness for a short winter getaway and we weren't dissapointed. First the Good: Clean rooms, great staff and large and fun waterparks that had plenty to do. There were 3 indoor waterparks and all offered something different. They had lots for kids to do and the days flew by and we were pretty tired come dinner time. The resort is pretty spaced out so prepare to do lots of walking or use the courtesy shuttles which were plentiful and easy to use. The rooms were nice, big and comfortable and ours had a microwave and small fridge. Now the Bad: Food options weren't the best. Breakfast buffet was so/so, but kids ate free so the price wasn't that bad. The dinner options were pretty much just pub food but the pizza from the on-site Sarrentos was really good and reasonably priced. We could have gotten by with bringing our own breakfast stuff and sandwiches for throughout the day. Even going out was limited, since alot of restaurants were closed for the winter. Also, be leary of rooms on the second floors, since the entire resort is connected by the second floor and there is alot of foot traffic along this floor. Otherwise, our stay was great and we look forward to going back!!!

  • Liked — The waterparks
  • Disliked — Food options
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Lombard
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 2, 2007

I have been to the Dells all of my life and have stayed almost everywhere there, including the regular Wilderness Hotel. But I have to say that this was the best room by far. My boyfriend and I stayed in the two bedroom condo on October 26 and October 27-a few weeks ago.

At first they sent us up to our room, but people were still in there cleaning so we weren't thrilled..but we waited only about 10 minutes...so it as OK. When we walked in the room, we were very excited to see just how much room there was for 2! It was very romantic to have a view with lake/trees and the jacuzzi was really nice and clean. The sun room is so pretty...and there are no shortage
of tv's there, although the CD player didn't work well and was kinda distorted sounding. The king bed in the master bedroom was very comfortable, but the queen beds in the other room were just OK.
We felt very comfortable there and it was very quiet except for a little boy decided to skateboard outside on the path back and forth in the morning below our room. The only real negative thing about this place is the check-in time is at 4:00pm and they told me on the phone that they were almost 100% sure we could get an early check in...but then that changed, and check-out is 11:00am..and when checking out we asked for an extended check-out, which they said would cost an extra $25 an an hour....that was pretty tracky considering downtown Chicago hotels give you a later check out and almost always accomdate an extended one.

The staff seemed a little pre-occupied as well....at times there was no-one there when we had a question..we had to wait for them to come almost out of hiding. The staff also does not seem to go out of their way to greet or answer questions.

But we would go back again...probably only in the fall/winter with the specials.....and because summer there has to be crazy with the families trying to cram-in as many people in one condo as possible.

Here's a tip for the MANAGEMENT: At the Kalahari there are signs that hang in the halls of the units that tell people to keep their voices down...you guys should try that.

ALSO: If there is room available, let people have the extended check-out...it's good for business and WORD travels fast.

  • Liked — Tons of room!
  • Disliked — They're not very accomodating to guests.
  • Stayed October 2007
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Milwaukee, WI
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2007

We have been going to Wilderness on the Lake for years, ever since it opened. At first, it was a relaxing luxurious experience, but over the years, the management of this property has deteriorated. The rooms are starting to show substantial wear and tear especially the kitchen supplies. In addition, the rooms, while not filthy, could be cleaner, especially since you have a kitchen in the room. We had dirt/crumbs on the kitchen floor and hair on the bathroom floors. The carpeting was very dirty since my boy's socks were black on the bottom.

This resort promotes this property as relaxing, but be warned that during peak times, you will be dealing with loud, noisy guests. Because the 2 and 3 bedroom condos sleep large numbers, there are large groups of families traveling together that jam as many people as they can into these condos to get their money's worth.

One of the reasons we liked to stay here was because they do not allow pets. We are allergic to pet dander and if we stay in a room that has had a dog or cat in it, we can be facing a medical emergency. On our last stay, there were guests that brought their dogs and had them right out in the open on the patio. I went to the front desk and asked to speak to the manager to let him/her know about this and the attendant at the desk would not get the manager, but simply asked me what the problem was and said she would take care of it. Well, the dogs were still there, barking the next morning and when I inquired what was being done, the desk clerk said they had sent security down to that area but couldn't locate the dogs! This is hard to believe, since she also told me that other guests had complained about barking. She took my cell phone number and said that the manager would call me. As might be expected, I never heard from him/her.

It is a shame, since the property is in a beautiful location and we always enjoyed swimming in the infinity pool overlooking the lake. I'm afraid though that this was our last stay here. We will definitely stay somewhere else next time.

  • Liked — Location-view overlooking the lake is beautiful
  • Disliked — Inadequate response by management to complaints.
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Des Moines, IA
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2007

My family of 2 adults and a 6 year old stayed in a 2 Bedroom, 2 bathroom condo at Wilderness on the Lake for one night in early October, 2007. The condo was easily the nicest family resort we’ve stayed at in the Dells. At $150 per night, booked online through the resort’s website, it was an off-season steal.
Our unit, 122 on the ground floor, was very spacious and beautiful. The full kitchen had a microwave, dishwasher, and breakfast bar. There was also a small dining area beside the kitchen. The living room had a fireplace with TV above and sofa sleeper. The master bedroom had a king bed, 2 closets, and master bath with double shower. The master bedroom and living room opened onto the 4 season porch with 3 chairs, fireplace with TV above, and hot tub. The second bedroom had 2 queen beds and TV. A hall bathroom and washer/dryer combo were off the hall. The unit also had a rollaway bed and a crib in the closet. A total of 9 plus an infant could sleep in this unit, although I think I would upgrade to a 3 bedroom unit for that many people.
Since our unit was on the ground floor, it opened onto the patio with gas grills and fire pits. The patio furniture was put away and the outdoor infinity pool and waterpark were closed for the winter. There was also a dock and beach area on the lake directly in front of the resort.
Guests staying at WOTL have access to all Wilderness waterparks. There is a complimentary shuttle that takes guests between the properties. We were the only guests at the onsite indoor waterpark and there was plenty to keep our 6 year old busy. There were two separate areas – one large play area with slides, tunnels, and sprays to keep young kids busy and a separate pool with basketball hoops and a lily pad crossing. Older kids looking for large slides and adults looking for a hot tub will be disappointed, but there are always the parks at the Wilderness and the hot tub in your room. We have been to Glacier Canyon Lodge and the Wilderness waterparks before, so we didn’t venture out. We also didn’t want to drive over to the Wilderness in 50 degree rainy weather with our swimsuits.
I had three concerns about the condo and resort. First, the unit was very dark. Since the only windows are the two sliding doors in the four season porch, the back of the condo was very dark. There was plenty of lighting, but the second bedroom and bathroom felt like a cave. Second, the ground floor unit was good and bad. It was nice to walk out onto the patio, but we like to sleep with the windows open. Since the only windows are the two sliding doors, I wasn’t comfortable leaving the doors open all night. Last, the resort only has WiFi in the lobby, not in the rooms. Not a big deal if you don’t need internet access, but a pain if you need to work away from home.
We also spent the week at Great Wolf and Kalahari (see reviews for more info). We prefer the waterpark at Great Wolf and the overall theme of Kalahari, but really liked the condo at WOTL. For more of the same, try Sundara Inn and Spa for a couples getawa

  • Liked — Gorgeous accommodations, great for families and couples
  • Disliked — Dark back bedroom and bathroom
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Additional Information about Wilderness on the Lake

Address: 350 E. Hiawatha Dr., Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Location: United States > Wisconsin > Wisconsin Dells
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Wisconsin Dells
#15 Family Hotel in Wisconsin Dells
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 500
Also Known As:
Wilderness On The Lake Hotel Wisconsin Dells

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