Having just returned from a vacation that included two nights at the Wawona, and just now checking the recent TripAdvisor reviews, I am in complete agreement with the last 2 months worth of reviewers comments on this hotel, but have an additional comment or two on what I found to be an odd style of management by the concessionaire running the hotel for the Park Service.
First of all, my family has frequented the Wawona about 5-6 times over the past 15 years, and when meeting family at the hotel for a weekend reunion it has always felt special. And despite the inherent noise when a group of 20-25 of us would check in en masse, we would try to be considerate of the other guests, especially in the quiet hours after sundown.
The visit a few weeks ago, however, was just me, my wife, and our two kids. I felt lucky to be one of the few who was able to reserve a room with bath, although it came with a meal package that was no bargain ($215/night for room w/bath including two buffet breakfasts daily). We were put on the second floor of the Annex building, a long two story wooden structure that houses the majority of the rooms at the Wawona. It includes the golf clubhouse (the Wawona has a really nice little nine hole course) and a lounge (on the second floor, directly above the golf clubhouse). Other times that I've stayed here I have seen parties in the lounge; one time there was a wedding reception in that room.
We checked in on a Sunday afternoon, and as we carried the bags up to our room I noticed a full bar, completely stocked with all kinds of booze, sitting outside of the room two doors down from ours. It was unattended, and if I were (still) a drinking man it would have been a nice perk to have a bar so close by. But it wasn't furnished or managed by the hotel, it was for a weeklong party that another family was having throughout the hotel grounds. Although they weren't out of control drunks, they were a large group with a very large flock of young (ages 5-15) and unattended children who were running, yelling, fighting, etc. It was pretty much impossible to get any real relaxing in on the veranda, because it was non-stop for the entire 2 days we were there. At one time it became pretty unbearable, and I went down the hall to ask the boys to quiet down (they were having a screaming contest). At this point a woman, I'm assuming one of the moms, came out of the room by the bar and said she would help me with the children "problem" (gee, thanks!). At no time did I see any hotel employee come out to the Annex building, and I know that everyone within 200 yards could hear these kids. When I was checking out, one of the front desk clerks made light of the noise situation, something like "well, they are active children, aren't they?". I didn't mention the open bar in a common hotel area, left unattended. Wouldn't that pose some liability to the concessionaire and the NPS?
One other thing...we tried to check in on Sunday around 11am, and when I asked if we could drop our bags in the as-yet unmade up room the desk clerk (a different one) was dismissive and patronizing; she was vague as to when would be a good time to return for our room assignment. While she was having me fill out the registration, she had our pre-printed form with room assignment in front of her, and I could see the room number (in a box labelled "room number"). Even though I could see the room number (I can read upside down!), she wouldn't tell which room when asked if we could just take the bags up (I took them up anyways). She said the housekeeping crew doesn't like to be pressured by guests wanting in to their (>$200/nite) rooms. We were made to wait right up until the crew had finished EVERY room in the Annex before we were given our room keys. It was kind of like a Monty Python skit.
I have to agree with the folks above; the Wawona is a hotel from a different time in a beautiful setting, but it is way overpriced and woefully managed. I don't believe that the renovations that are taking place now will enhance the lodging experience as long as the current style of management is in effect.
Stay instead in the Valley, or outside the park for the same money at the nearby luxury hotel (Tenaya Lodge) near Fish Camp or a little further down Hwy 41 in Oakhurst (less money, good accomodations, many dining options, 30 min. from Wawona).
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.