March 3, 2011

Waterpark Resorts v Waterpark Hotels

We just finished up a long weekend (capped off by a snow day, of course) and since the Princess’s and Littlebit’s schools don’t do extended spring breaks, I decided we needed a little winter get away and found, via google, a local Waterpark Hotel.  We’ve been to both Waterpark Hotels and Waterpark Resorts and there’s a much bigger difference than just the cost difference (which, for our family is about fifty dollars a night).  You might be considering a short trip to beat the winter doldrums and here’s  a quick comparison to help you spend whether or not you should spend the extra $50.

Benefits of a Waterpark Hotel

  • Lower rate than a Waterpark Resort
  • Smaller footprint allowing anxious parents to give older kids more freedom
  • Smaller facilities mean less distance when shlepping your kids from the room to the park
  • Less expensive than Waterpark Resorts

Drawbacks of Waterpark Hotels

  • Smaller facilities means less to do.  Little kids might not mind.  The limited options are okay, but bigger kids could get bored quicker
  • Possibility of no lifeguards/pool supervision.  This varies.  We’ve been to one Waterpark Hotel where they did have supervising lifeguards and one where there were none.
  • Typical hotel fare.  This means limited in house options if you don’t want to leave the hotel.  In the two  Waterpark Hotels we’ve visited we had bar food type options (mostly fried appetizers) and a vending machine.  This created a slight issue for us on a Sunday night when, after playing in the Waterpark until into the evening we had to leave to try and find dinner.  In the midst of an ice storm.  When two out of three places were already closed for the evening

Benefits of a Waterpark Resort

  • Huge water park areas with tons of things to do.  The Waterpark  Resort we visited in Illinois, featured three large water slides, a large lazy river, a wave pool, a large playscape for bigger kids and a small pool area with slides for little ones.  It was easy to spend HOURS in the water park
  • In Waterpark drinking and dining options.  The smaller Waterpark Hotels we visited didn’t have in park dining/drink options and the small one we visited this past weekend forbade them.  But, I have to tell you, it’s nice sitting in an beach chair along side the wave pool in pleasant 82 degree weather drinking a pina colada.  It kind of felt like a vacation.  In the middle of Illinois
  • Waterpark Resorts are themed.  Maybe over the top, but  themes are fun
  • Lots more in-resort options.  Dining options, shopping options, snack options
  • Well trained lifeguards and park supervision

Drawbacks of Waterpark Resorts

  • They’re huge!  That could mean long walks from the lobby to your room and from your room to the Waterpark and from your room to, well, anything.  This isn’t too major unless you’re toting small kids and a lot of gear.  The Waterpark scape is also huge, meaning you may be concerned about letting your older child have more independence.
  • They’re expensive.  And I don’t just mean the cost difference per night. Even bottled water costs more out of the vending machine
  • On school holidays or weekends they can be crowded akin to a theme park.

In the end, Big Daddy and I have decided for our family, it’s worth a longer drive and a little more money to stay at a Waterpark Resort.  Have you stayed at either? What have your experiences been like?  What would you recommend?

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