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Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
Ranked #3 of 35 Hotels in Sandusky
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
117 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 480 helpful votes
“20% Surcharge for Reading this Review”
Reviewed July 17, 2011

I still haven't figured out exactly how to rate this hotel. Kalahari does a lot of things really well -- the amenities are great, most of the staff we met were friendly & professional and the rooms are well-suited for a family resort.

But...having worked in a hotel before, I am not usually caught off-guard by unexpected fees and surcharges. I was at Kalahari, and it wasn't a great feeling.

Example One: I think most people expect higher price tags when staying at a themed resort. Likewise, we didn't flinch at the roughly $14/person room service breakfast. The food and service were fine. That said, I was puzzled by the 19% "Room Service Fee" on the receipt. Not an automatic gratuity...a 'fee'. I asked the room service person if her tip was supposed to be included in this fee, and she said that they were not authorized to say. Huh? I don't love automatic gratuities anyway (since you can never be sure if the server actually receives them), but a mystery fee is even worse.

Example two: Our room rate was just over $600 with tax for one evening (African Queen Suite). When I had booked the room I was under the impression that I was also paying for access to all of the general park activities as advertised in the Kalahari brochure.

Turns out I was incorrect. Although my Kalahari brochure includes the Zip Line in the general list of outdoor park activities, we found out later (after our kids were booted out of line) that it was an additional $19.95 per person.

Again, we expected to pay extra for stuff like the arcade, etc. The Zip Line, however, gets prominent mention in the brochure along with the water slides and other feature park activities and there is no mention in any of the literature I had about an additional charge. (Though I should mention that it is listed at the bottom of the Kalahari "Safari Park" webpage I saw after we returned home.)

To some readers it may sound like I'm splitting hairs, but I think it is a disservice both to the guests AND to the resort employees when prices are not explicit and direct. There were other examples during our stay (a $9.95 'Resort Fee' added to the room bill, etc.) that lacked transparency and generally made us weary.

I hope the Kalahari management seriously reconsiders their billing practices. We'd like to return -- the kids had a blast and I have to compliment the resort on providing a very safe, well-run and well-equipped park. It would just be nice to enjoy it without feeling like there was going to be a "gotcha" moment every time you opened your wallet.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank Eiregirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Walled Lake, Michigan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed July 16, 2011

I have been extremely conflicted with this review. I have been a Kalahari fan since the beginning, when it was a welcome reprieve from the Great Wolf Lodges of the world (I have no issue with the Wolf, but variety is the spice of life, is it not?). The waterpark was great, rooms were nice, food was above-average, and the overall experience was well beyond what was expected. We continued to go for many years and, shortly after the expansion, took a break. Now we returned many years later to find a much different Kalahari.

Room: The rooms remained identical to how we remembered them. Same themeing, same basic furniture. Very standard rooms. Not much to say. Considering the nature of the resort, the rooms are not very important, and these suffice quite well. The fridge and microwave are a nice added treat, allowing us to reheat leftovers or bring food from outside the resort.

Waterpark: The waterpark helps highlight one of the main issues with the Kalahari resort: a lack of maintenance for older attractions. The treetop kids play area was in complete disrepair. Broken effects everywhere. Some were incredibly obvious, such as water guns with tubes broken off of them and sporadically flying about. Others were more subtle, such as water squirting from the surface of a wood beam, as the inner pipe had broken. As for the rest of the park's attractions, they were lovely. A wide array of slides, lots of room for stuff, and short lines. Everyone had a great time. One startling revelation to me, however, was the hot tub by the lazy river. Once a hidden gem and reprieve from the chaos of the park, it has been converted into a cabana for paying customers. Just another example of the nickel and diming that Kalahari has resorted to and how it is affecting the guest experience.

Arcade: Lots of great games (many brand new such as Fruit FX). Very high quality and very few down. However, now that they are on a card system, they seemed to have doubled prices on all the games. Crane machines, once costing $.50, now cost 4 credits ($1). Most people wouldn't realize this, but it's a huge disappointment.

Outdoor Adventure Park: Great experience with the best employees of the entire property. The extra fees all around were a little discouraging. The animal park had a million different ways of charging people money. Their lists made the penny pinching even more apparent.

Dining: The Reserve restaurant was great. Great food with very authentic theming.

Service: Incredibly bipolar. The Adventure Park was consistantly spot-on while the waterpark was hit-and-miss. The arcade was simply pathetic, as employees (clearly annoyed with the multitude of unsupervised children) were unwilling to help fix machines, citing that they did not know where technicians were and not actively helping to find them.

If you're going for the first time, you'll have a great time. All the new stuff is amazing. It also costs money. It seems clear that unless it directly affects the bottom line, management will not change it. Service and maintenace of the older parts of the property are in need for a fix. First timers won't mind any of this at all. Those who remember the better times, before the business people got clever, will be somewhat disappointed.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank astephen2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canton, Michigan
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2011

My husband and I decided to take a spur of the moment trip with our 2 small children to Kalahari in Ohio. We wanted something close by that was easy to get to. We checked rates online and saw the $199 summer rate so we called to reserve. However, after speaking to the reservation desk, they told us that the rate was was $229/night. We ended up booking and we also found that that we were getting charged a $9.99 resort fee included alongside the taxes, which was odd to us. We already paid the waterpark fee in the room rate so we didn't understand why the resort fee was even there.
The hotel rooms were clean but the beds were lumpy and not the most comfortable. The waterpark was well kept but looks a bit run down with some of the features not working/broken. Also, some of the rides need signs at the entrance of the ride stating the height requirements.
The day of our departure, we requested a late checkout because we didn't want to rush with two small children. However, we were told that due to full occupancy, they weren’t allowing any late check-outs. This upset me because I felt that giving us a couple more hours in the room wouldn’t have unreasonable, especially with the check-in time being so late. I’ve stayed at many hotels and late checkout was never an issue.

Although the stay was fine, it was a little bit overpriced.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank mimald
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rockville, Maryland
Level Contributor
267 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
Reviewed July 13, 2011

Kalahari is a great family resort, a treat for kids of all ages. This was our 2nd visit and we plan to return. Have also visited Great Wolf multiple times and while similar, I think Kalahari is a step up. The theme is very well executed, the indoor/outdoor waterparks are huge but navigable, and the food options are very good. They have added a dry outdoor adventure package which is a great idea. Rooms vary from nice but hotel-standard to really special suites - for this as well as other reasons Kalahari is a great destination for groups. it takes about 20 mins to get to Cedar Point so this can be easily combined. (I also highly recommend Cedar Point). The atmosphere can be very chaotic and noisy and it can be hard work to watch small children here, but this is just reality and you have to account for it.

  • Stayed July 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank MN_on_the_road
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reno, Nevada
Level Contributor
30 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed July 11, 2011

While the water park is nothing short of amazing, this is a hotel review in the end, and I must say I left with mixed impressions. We arrived at noon knowing our room wouldn't be ready until later. They checked us in and gave us our passes and told us to follow up on the room status anytime after 2:00. Check in was efficient, but lacked any real enthusiasm. It was more robotic than anything. We stayed in a Hut room in the Sands area which is quite far from the water park, but doesn't see all the foot traffic the closer rooms do. The room was spacious and well appointed. The beds were made sloppy, but they were clean. We found the bathroom to be akward being the the sink was outside the shower/toilet. As expected with this type of resort, the neighbors on all levels, ends, corners, were LOUD. Do not stay here if you are sensitive to noise at night. The value just wasn't there though. $229 is a lot of money for one night, regardless of whether or not it included passes. Everything about this place is expensive. If you can, try to visit Mon-Thurs and stay at one of many other hotels in Sandusky.

  • Stayed July 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Jetsgopro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newmarket, Ontario
Level Contributor
19 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed July 10, 2011

My family (3 adults, 2 children) stayed at Kalahai for just one night but it let like a short vacation. We calculated that we sent just 27 hours at the resort (the facilities can be used on the day of arrival and departure) but we did so much. Water slides, wave pool, sunning by the outdoor pools, three-story rope course, rock climbing and zip lining. Both adults and kids (11 & 14) loved it. We paid about $300 for the one night and an additional $20 per person for the outdoor activities. The room was great (2 queens, pullout sofa, balcony) and the facilities were clean and well organized. The employees were all very good - mostly college students as far as I could tell but clearly well trained. The food was good, but not outstanding - although we didn't eat at all the restaurants. The bars were great, inside and out and we samples quite a few cocktails.

  • Stayed July 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank bblainey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KalahariResortOhio, Guest Relations Manager at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, responded to this review, August 2, 2011
We are very happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay at our resort. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your recent stay. It is always great to read about positive experiences at our resort. I hope that other TripAdvisor users will read your comments and find them to be useful. We look forward to your return visit.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mentor, Ohio
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed July 9, 2011

Overall we enjoyed our experience at Kalahari. The room (African Queen suite) was nice, although when we checked in, the patio door to the outside was completely unlocked--we would not have known this if we hadn't checked. The front desk staff, bell hop and valet were very friendly.

Skip the cabana rental in the waterpark, though. We thought it would be nice to have a comfortable central area for our party of 7 to gather, and from that perspective it worked well. But be aware that the cabanas are HOT. The waterpark itself is very warm, but the structure of the cabana just traps the heat inside it, and the ceiling fan does not do anything to help. It was nice to have a server available to come take food and beverage orders, and she was friendly and efficient. But for the price, I wouldn't do it again. (And speaking of the price, if the cabanas aren't all being used, they start marking down the price--when we left for the day, there was a sign at registration that the price was about $60 less than what we had paid for it, which was not cheap.) There are also private areas that are an open bay-type format--maybe those are a bit cooler than the cabana huts.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
37 Thank Majikas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KalahariResortOhio, Guest Relations Manager at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, responded to this review, August 2, 2011
Thank you for taking the time to let us know of your disappointment with your cabana. Your comments have been forwarded to the Waterpark for review. We value your feedback and want to apologize on behalf of our entire team for our failure to deliver an experience beyond your expectations. We strive on a daily basis to reach that goal, and we are able to further this commitment based on the information we receive from guests. Please contact us directly to further discuss your stay.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kalahari Resorts & Conventions

Property: Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
Address: 7000 Kalahari Drive, Sandusky, OH 44870-8628
Location: United States > Ohio > Sandusky
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Sandusky
#2 Family Hotel in Sandusky
#2 Romantic Hotel in Sandusky
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Kalahari Resorts & Conventions 3.5*
Number of rooms: 884
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kalahari Resorts Sandusky provides water parks, Safari Outdoor Adventure Park, indoor/outdoor water park, catering/wedding facilities, spa, salon, fitness training in fitness center, dining options, and more.Over 850 beautifully appointed authentic African-themed guest rooms and suites offer coffeemaker, vacation sized refrigerator, microwave, free high speed Internet access, voice mail, TV, iron/ironing board, in-room safe, pay per view movies, and much more. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kalahari Waterpark Resort
Kalahari Hotel Ohio
Kalahari Waterpark Sandusky
Kalahari Resort Sandusky Oh
Kalahari Waterpark Hotel Sandusky
Kalahari Water Park
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Sandusky, Ohio

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