DIY: Valentine's Day Coookies-on-a-Stick

Are you making something special for your Valentine? I remember as a kid making big cards out of construction paper and working really hard to make the perfect heart shape and adding frills with doilies. There’s just something about a homemade gift that makes your heart smile.

This past week, our Pastry Chef Amie Hanrahan and her team at the Grand Mound Lodge baked some Valentine-inspired sweets for their guests. If you are waiting until the last minute and still looking for the perfect gift, I invite you to bake these Great Wolf Lodge-inspired Sugar Cookies on a Stick.

After reading the recipe and drooling over the photos, I went home and made some this weekend, too. With a little creativity of your own, you might just be on your way to joining the culinary team at your nearest Lodge!

 

Sugar Cookies-On-A-Stick

(Makes about 4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter- softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 each large eggs
  • 48ct Popsicle sticks

Your choice of edible decorations (Icing, sprinkles, chocolate chips, candies)

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Put dough into freezer for five minutes, to make inserting sticks easier. Pull dough from freezer. Insert a stick into the dough from the side. Make sure the dough on sticks has room to allow the cookies to spread without baking over other sticks.
  3. You can add sprinkles or chocolate chips to the raw dough, so they bake in, or wait until the cookies are baked and cool to add your decorations.
  4. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. After the cookies have cooled completely, you can apply frosting and attach edible decorations of your choice. Have Fun!!

 

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Welcome to the Pack - Director of Sales Andrew Pena

Andrew Pena Director of SalesWe are very excited to celebrate the most recent addition to our Sales & Catering Pack—Andrew Pena. As a new wolf, Pena is excited to bring his training and experience in Hospitality with him to the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas

“As the new Director of Sales and Catering in Grapevine, I am thrilled to lead this sales organization. By implementing a structure focused on motivating a sales team, high results are achieved,” shared Pena, “I am excited to work alongside our team. Successful leaders take care of their employees. They don’t ask anyone to do something they wouldn’t also do. I will work alongside my team and together we’ll bring Great Wolf Lodge to a new level in corporate groups and events.”

With 23 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Pena is a leader in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in hotel sales and tourism, earning his CTA in 2012. Most recently, Pena served as an Area Sales Leader with Marriott International where he provided strategic sales direction for 14 hotels and over 300 local accounts. His passion for travel inspires him in his personal and professional life and will bring a new perspective to the Great Wolf Lodge.

Pena is an active member of MPI and plans to earn his CMP designation in 2013.  An avid cyclist, he participates in many charity rides in his spare time, earning donations for certain causes, such as MS.  He, his wife and two children are longtime residents of the Grapevine/Southlake area.

Next time you're visiting the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, be sure to ask Andrew about how possible savings for your next family reunion or corporate meeting. His team works with groups booking over 10 rooms at the resort and reserving space for private catered events at the lodge.Great Wolf Lodge Grapevine, TX

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Celebrating a Remarkable Year of Giving

Ryan Potter at Great Wolf Lodge

For the past four years, Great Wolf Resorts has proudly partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. As a former “Big” myself, the rewards of volunteering and providing financial assistance to a worthwhile cause are endless.

While spending time with my Little Sister, we would do many activities in the community. Many times the activities we took part in were donated by local businesses and were a good opportunity for us to meet other Matches.  It was a good time for both of us to just have some fun and allow us both to be kids. The donations, in-kind and financial, to our local chapter gave us ideas of things to do and also the resources to maintain and grow our relationship.

Working for Great Wolf Resorts gives me the perspective of the rewards the local business reaps, as well. It is more than just a financial contribution, but an investment in the community. Each Match created is another life in the community impacted by Big Brothers Big Sisters. And raising the funds is actually pretty fun around here!

Carter Oosterhouse at Great Wolf Lodge Traverse CityIn 2012, we raised over $276,600 between all 10 U.S. based Great Wolf Lodge resorts. We could not have done it without help from our guests and Pack Members across the country. They came together to help us raise awareness and funds for the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in their surrounding communities.

While all of our resorts came together to support their local Big Brothers Big Sisters, we are so proud of our top three resorts—Concord/Charlotte, NC; Grapevine, TX; and Traverse City, MI. Combined, these resorts raised over $190,000.

These donations were raised one dollar at a time through community day pass sales, dining in the life-size Gingerbread Houses during Snowland, online guest donations and Bowl For Kids’ Sake.   Through their work to provide positive relationships, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ family-centric approach aligns perfectly with our mission to create family traditions at the lodge.

Through our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, our resorts also provide complimentary passes to the waterparks for Bigs and Littles to use to spend a day together.  On specific nights throughout the year, each lodge provides a night for the pairs to experience the thrills of the indoor waterpark and continue to foster their mentoring relationship.

Thank you to everyone who helped us to achieve our fundraising goal this year. Your generosity helps us assist Big Brothers and Big Sisters positively impact the lives of children in communities across America. Next time you’re at Great Wolf Lodge, be sure to check out how you can partner with us in our continued support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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Sandusky Stocks Up on Wands

MagiQuest

While our resort guests tend to visit us most during the summer months and when school is out, here at Great Wolf Lodge, meeting and exceeding expectations is a year-round project! Our teams work hard to continually add attractions and experiences so each time you visit, you may have the opportunity to do something new! And in marketing it is our job to debut the many new offerings in fun, memorable ways.  

One way we promote new attractions is with “Sneak Peeks.” We invite select members of the media and influential parents in the resort’s surrounding community to be among the first to experience the resort’s newest activity. Most recently, we did just that with the Grand Reveal of MagiQuest at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio.

Here’s a little behind the scenes peak at how we magically pulled everything together:

Step One: Brainstorming

While many of our resort guests may have already reached Master Magi status at one of our Great Wolf Lodge resorts, families in Northern Ohio had not yet had the chance to activate their wands and set out on their first quest.  How could we make this experience different? We thought of different ways we could engage, excite and build energy behind the debut of MagiQuest at the resort.

Step Two: Mapping out the Plan

Once we compiled all the ideas, we went to work on how to make our dream event a reality. With the resort coming off the busy holiday season, we also needed to take much of the prep-work off the resort team and have it ready for them at the beginning of January.

Step Three: Outreach

To ensure media coverage and attendance from influential local families, we also needed to build out our list, draft email invitations and work the phones. With a series of invites and reminders, we were able to contact key family travel media in the region and talk with mommy bloggers, as well.

Step Four: The Big Day

On the day of the event, the resort team was able to follow the step-by-step plan for the day. With two waves of attendees, they did a great job manning the welcome table in the lobby, activating wands for the guests and providing a special cake with refreshments. On a busy Saturday afternoon, the team did a great job making sure every guest knew today was the day for the MagiQuest Grand Reveal.

In the end, it all comes back to the experience. Providing families with something they can bond over will naturally create an opportunity to spread the word about a new attraction. All of the work we put into bringing the event to life was worth it. Seeing families racing down the halls on their way to become Master Magi was the best part of the day.

Now, all 11 of our Great Wolf Lodge resorts have MagiQuest. Are you a Master Magi? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with the newbies in Sandusky?

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New Year, New Attractions

Last summer, guests at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine had a chance to try some new attractions. For the thrill-seekers there is Howly Wood XD Theater, while the agile could take a turn at Lazer Frenzy to race against the clock. Both replaced a tween themed activity space at the resort and have allowed the whole family to join in the fun.Howly Wood XD Theater at Great Wolf Lodge

Howlywood XD Theater takes the rider on three different adventures. For the true thrill, families can take a ride on a roller coaster through space. With the wind rushing through your hair and hydraulic-powered seats, this is not your average movie theater. Families will feel like they are actually flying through space.

The Grapevine Lodge also added an interactive, time-challenge game called Lazer Frenzy. Families can challenge each other or race against the clock to slink through the laser beams to the other side before time runs out. You won't want to fail this mission.

Lazer Frenzy at Great Wolf LodgeBoth of these interactive games were part of the 2012 facelift to family entertainment at all of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts. From new attractions like Howl in One Glow Golf in the Pocono Mountains and Oliver's Time Challenge in Williamsburg to updates like the Northern Lights Arcade renovation—we are committed to providing the best in family entertainment.

This year, we will be making even more updates and additions to a lodge near you.  Stay tuned for more information about all of the new family entertainment in store for 2013.

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Congratulations, Angie Brown!

Angie Brown General Manager Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, VAWe are excited to celebrate the recent promotion of Angie Brown to General Manager of the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. As a long-time Pack Member, Angie truly understands what it means to create family traditions, one family at a time.

“Throughout my life, and since joining Great Wolf Lodge over a decade ago, I’ve had the opportunity to be influenced by, and work with, many great and amazing leaders,” Angie said. “The leaders that have impacted me the most are individuals that had a passion for three primary and essential elements of hospitality: their employees, their guests and the product or Brand that one represents.   This is the culture that I try to live by every day of my life and I hope to build enhance with the team here at our resort in Williamsburg.”

Brown held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility and industry expertise in her career with Great Wolf Resorts, which began in 1999. She has worked as Rooms Division Director for Great Wolf Lodge – Traverse City, MI; Assistant General Manager for Great Wolf Lodge – Grapevine, Texas and most recently, as the General Manager at Great Wolf Lodge – Wisconsin Dells, WI.

Angie is excited to now be living and working in the Old Dominion.

“The hospitality of those who  live and work here, the culture, scenic landscapes, amazing history, the restaurants, shops and attractions—everything is extraordinary,” Angie has shared, “I still have so many areas in this region to visit and to learn about. I know that each day here I will find a new gem in the treasure chest that is known as the Historic Triangle!”    

Next time your family visits our Williamsburg resort, be sure to stop by and say hello to Angie. She is excited about her new role and continuing to ensure families like yours have a safe, memorable and fun time at Great Wolf Lodge.

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Ryan Potter at Great Wolf Lodge

This past weekend, Ryan Potter from Nickelodeon's Supah Ninja's hosted a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters and celebrated Howl-O-Ween with guests at the Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati/Mason, Ohio. Here is more about the experience in Ryan's own words:

Ryan Potter at Great Wolf Lodge - Mason, OH

It was so great to be able to hang out at Great Wolf Lodge this weekend!  With my busy schedule filming Nickelodeon's Supah Ninjas, it's important for me to take time to give back to Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization has had such an important impact on my life. And, what better way than spending the day with Bigs, Littles and my fans at Great Wolf Lodge!

Big Brothers Big Sisters matched me with my Big Brother James more than nine years ago. It's safe to say that I would not be the person I am today without his guidance.  Growing up in a single-parent home was tough - for both me and my mom, since she was working to support us. James was always there as a mentor, role model and friend.

I never would have met James if it wasn't for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  To show the organization my appreciation, I am now officially a Big Brothers Big Sisters spokesperson. I was thrilled when they asked me to attend a fundraiser for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters' agency at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio this past weekend.

Ryan Potter, Wiley the Wolf and Violet the WolfAfter meeting some of the local matches and other fans at dinner, I had the opportunity to lead Story Time for all of the guests. It was great to have Wiley there to help me out. I think he was a little jealous I was stealing some of his limelight.

During the Monster Bash Dance Party, the resort held a raffle to raise even more money for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Prizes even included a free night stay at Great Wolf Lodge.  After, Wiley even tried to show me up on the dance floor.

All of the Howl-O-Ween events at Great Wolf Lodge were so much fun and I was really happy to have the chance to help Big Brother Big Sisters. The evening raised close to $1000 and will help Big Brothers Big Sisters continue to make matches for kids, just like they did for me and James.

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The Great Caramel Apple Contest

One of my favorite things about fall is not just the cooler weather, but all of the fun treats and sweets there are to enjoy. I think I’ve seen a pumpkin-flavored version of everything from coffee to cheesecake in just the past week.

But one of my favorite sweets this time of year is a caramel apple. There is just something about the combination of the fresh apples with caramel that make a simple treat a confectionary delight.

Our Great Wolf Lodge culinary team agrees with me and to really get in the spirit, they got in touch with their sweet and creative side! This week, the resorts all competed with each other and challenged their Pastry Chefs to create the coolest, most imaginative Halloween-themed caramel apples. We were blown away with the submissions.

From traditional candied apples covered in red coating to apples made to look like mummies, bats and pumpkins, the resort culinary teams pulled out all the stops. The pastry teams whipped up their best confections for guests to enjoy during our Howl-O-Ween festivities.

The winner of this year’s contest is the pastry team from the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound. Led by Pastry Chef Amie Solitis, the team created an array of not-so-scary and totally yummy treats!  

To the left is a photo of her mummy-inspired treats. From a caramel apple covered in white chocolate to chocolate dipped marshmallows, cupcakes and strawberries, the team covered every sweet concoction to make these “berry-scary” treats. Want to see the rest of the entries? Check out the photo album on our Facebook page to view the all of the delicious delights from this year’s competition.

Throughout the month of October, all of our resorts are hosting Howl-O-Ween, and new themed treats and a variety of confections can all be found in the Bear Paw Eats & Sweets. I look forward to seeing what is new and in store for everyone as well as enjoy all of the Howl-O-Ween activities this month. I think a caramel apple is the perfect treat to enjoy after visiting the Trick-or-Treat Trail or attending the Spooktacular Story Time at the lodge. What is your favorite Howl-O-Ween treat?

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Northern Lights Arcade Gets a Facelift

Great Wolf Lodge strives to constantly add new venues and forms of entertainment at all of our resorts. This year, in addition to providing new attractions and amenities, we have focused on enhancing the guest experience. Most recently, several of the Great Wolf Lodge properties focused on one of our most popular entertainment outlets – the Northern Lights Arcade.

With the addition of the new games for all ages and skill levels, families can now use the latest technology in hands-on gaming—PawPoints! Instead of purchasing tokens to activate the arcade games, families can load their PawPoints cards, again and again, and enjoy hours of fun. The cards are reusable and save your points, too. So if you don’t win enough tickets to earn the prize you really want, save your PawPoints card bring it back with you to reload, reuse and redeem during your next visit. Another cool benefit of the PawPoint card? You can enter all of your earned tickets, and store your total on the card. No need to keep each individual ticket—the card makes ticket total storage easy.

For our guests who just can’t get enough of the arcade—or want to visit after the waterpark closes so they can maximize splishes and splashes—we have added hours of operation to the Northern Lights. 

In addition to the many new games and prize-winning opportunities, the overall look and feel of the arcades has changed drastically. From vibrant carpet to brightly painted walls, the arcades truly reflect the family fun atmosphere our Great Wolf Lodge resorts are known for.

Currently, the Northern Lights renovations are complete at the Grapevine Lodge and Kansas City Lodge. This month, the lodges in Williamsburg, Sandusky and Pocono Mountains will receive their gaming facelift and our remaining resorts will be complete by the end of the year.

Has your family challenged each other to a game of Skeeball recently? Do you have a favorite game? What do you think of the Northern Lights arcade? I hope you enjoy these changes as much as I do, as we continue to find ways to enhance your guest experience at each of our Great Wolf Lodge resorts.

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Chef of the Week - Ron Market in the Pocono Mountains

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Ron Market has been a longtime member of the Great Wolf Lodge Food and Beverage pack. Two years ago, he took on the role of Executive Chef at the Lodge in the Poconos Mountains.

Starting as a Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, he soon worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef. At the same time, he also helped train the new food and beverage teams as resorts opened in Grand Mound, WA and Concord, NC.

Chef Market’s passion for culinary arts combined with his talent for taking the staples of family dining and making them extraordinary means that guests at Great Wolf Lodge receive memorable meals each time they dine. His leadership style motivates the Food and Beverage teams at all six outlets at the Pocono Mountains Lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Ron Market  Having one of our younger guests stop me to say “Thank You! I ate a lot and had fun” is such a great feeling - especially after a demanding day. It also reminds me why we do this every day – to create a memorable vacation for families.

Great Wolf Lodge – Have you created something in the kitchen just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Market  With the help of our very talented Sous Chefs, it would have to be our “Wolf it Down” pizza. It is a hand tossed brick oven-style pizza sold in the resort. Just recently, we opened a storefront near Bear Paw Eats & Sweets. Our guests love this easy dining option for lunch and dinner.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes a meal at Great Wolf Lodge different from other places?

Chef Market – We strive to provide great comfort and specialty foods in a relaxed, kid-friendly environment. Our menu allows each member of the family to find something they enjoy to eat without sacrificing flavor.

Great Wolf Lodge  What new service(s) have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge?

Chef Market – During my time with the company, I have helped implement a strong allergy program. Our chefs go tableside to discuss the allergy directly with the guest and will then prepare a unique menu that is safe and enjoyable. This really takes the stress off the family and allows them to experience a fun meal together. Most families who deal with allergy issues on a daily basis are limited as to where they can go out to eat; we don’t want that to be the case at the Lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge  What advice do you offer to someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Market – To be a great chef, you had better LOVE it. If you do love it, then every day in the kitchen is like coming home to your family!

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Congratulations, James Anderson

We are very excited to celebrate the recent Pack Member promotion of James Anderson to General Manager of the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. As a long-time Pack Member, James truly understands what it means to create family traditions, one family at a time.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the best leaders in the industry here at Great Wolf Lodge and I’ve learned so much from each of them,” says James. “As the new general manager in Wisconsin Dells, I’ll share this wisdom with my Pack Members. Two lessons I learned early on are: To be available and be fair, and to take care of the team, so that in turn your guests will be taken care of with the service they deserve.”

During his 13 years as a Pack Member with Great Wolf Resorts, James has held many roles. Starting as a lifeguard at the Wisconsin Dells Lodge in 1999, he transferred to Food and Beverage, Housekeeping, and ultimately, Guest Services. In 2001, he moved to the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. He also held leadership roles at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wis. and most recently, served as assistant general manager at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.

Originally from New Mexico, James is excited to return to Badgerland with Laura, his wife of nine years, and their three children, Evelyn, 8; Hazel, 6 and Henry, six months. He is looking forward to leading the 400 Pack Members at the company’s first resort and the many new opportunities that lay ahead.

Next time your family visits the Wisconsin Dells resort, be sure to stop by and say hello to James. He is excited about his new role and continuing to ensure families like yours have safe, memorable and fun times at Great Wolf Lodge.

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Chef of the Week - Russ Meeks in Concord

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef Russ MeeksStarting as a line cook at the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, Executive Chef Russ Meeks understands what it means to be a park of the “pack”. Serving in multiple roles over the last 12 years, he currently oversees the culinary team at the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina.

With degrees in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management, Chef Meeks understands the entire operation of food prep and team building.Through his innate creativity, he has developed his own twist on a few southern classics for guests to enjoy at the lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge – Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for our guests?

Chef Russ Meeks  During my time at the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, I have perfected two very popular recipes for our guests - my Signature Southern Sweet Tea Barbeque sauce. After tasting my signature barbeque sauce an upcoming client requested two gallons to share with their office. It has become a very popular menu item at the lodge.

Great Wolf Lodge – What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Meeks – In addition to my Signature Sweet Tea Barbeque Sauce, we offer our guests a unique blend of chocolate and spices with my signature Howlin’ Hot Chocolate. During the holidays and cooler months in North Carolina, our guests enjoy this sweet indulgence. We are even working on a plan to sell a pre-portioned version for our resort guests. It is a very close replica for our guests who would like to enjoy a warm cup of Howlin’ Hot Chocolate at home.

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Meeks  I was is inspired to be a Chef working the kitchen with my Grandmother. She encouraged me as a boy to help her make various things and taught me many secrets of cooking I still use today. It is a tradtion I continue to share with my family and friends.

Great Wolf Lodge  What advice do you offer to someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Meeks – Have a passion for it! Live it! Learn something new every day! Being a chef takes constant change and the ability to adapt. For me, it is a great reward when I can showcase a new twist on a traditional recipe. Without a passion for the culinary arts, it can be very tough to excel in the dayo-to-day.

Great Wolf Lodge – What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Meeks – Working for the lodges over the years I have learned a lot. Something that is very special to me is our allergy program. After working with these families in our restaurants I am inspired to make the experience something special for each guest.  These families tell us, the only time they get to eat out together is at the lodge. 

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Howl at the Moon Glow Golf

After spending the day riding all the waterslides in Bear Track Landing and playing MagiQuest throughout the resort, families at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains can now enjoy a round of putt-putt golf in the dark at Howl at the Moon Glow Golf.

The newest attraction to the Pocono Mountains Lodge is the place where the forest meets mini golf fun. Families can take an evening stroll through the woods, along this themed golf course, no matter what the clock says. With our uniquely indoor “moonlit” sky,  

Don't worry; we didn’t turn off all the lights. With the help of backlights and glowing pathways, you will Putt your way to victory along the wooded path. You will even have a perfect line of sight for a hole in one. Just be sure to yell "fore" so you don’t startle our forest friends.

Howl at the Moon Glow Golf

For avid golfers, leave your clubs at home and share the joy of the greens with everyone in your family. The team at Great Wolf Lodge has thought of everyone, and the course offers golf clubs that are perfect for every age and height. Just bring your imagination and get ready to hit the mini links.

Located along Main Street on the first floor of the lodge, just across from Ten Paw Alley, plan to visit Howl at the Moon for nine holes of indoor fun. Keep an eye out for the little creatures who call the golf forest their home – they will guide your team along the putting green to an above PAR delight.

At just $5 per person, this experience is the perfect way to spend time together complete with friendly competition. And, don’t worry. We took out all the sand traps to help ensure everyone feels like a winner at the end.

Next time you're at the Pocono Mountains Lodge be sure to try your hand at this new addition to our array of entertainment and activities. This new experience is not your average shot in the dark.

Is your family a big fan of mini golf fun? Guests at the Great Wolf Lodge resorts in Concord, Kansas City, Traverse City and Williamsburg can enjoy our outdoor course at the Howl in One Mini Golf or Wacky Wilderness at the Niagara Falls lodge. These are open each summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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Chef of the Week - Kuan Yu in Grand Mound

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Kuan Yu is the very talented Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA. Since March 2005, Chef Yu has introduced his Asian-inspired talents to many families staying at the resort.

With degrees from the Japan Culinary Academy in Tokyo and a former instructor at Johnson & Wales University, Chef Yu not only create culinary works of art, but also mentors and encourages rising chefs to do the same.

Some of Chef Yu’s signature dishes at the resort include sushi and General Tso’s Chicken. His Asian flare even earned her the People’s Choice Award at the Taste of Williamsburg for three years in a row. As Sous Chef at Great Wolf Lodge, Chef Yu admires the family-centric approach the resort has towards meal time.

Great Wolf Lodge  What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Kuan Yu – I love rice. It is especially good in my General Tso’s Chicken prepared just for Great Wolf Lodge. With my training in Asian-style cuisine, it is my favorite dish to prepare for families.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Yu – Food at Great Wolf Lodge is prepared with love and passion. This is not something I’ve seen in previous kitchens. Not only is it a fun work environment, but I like to think our guests taste the difference our staff puts into food preparation each time they visit the Lodge.  

Great Wolf Lodge  What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Yu – Since starting at the Lodge, I have introduced the art of making sushi to the food and beverage team. This is such a popular dish with our guests and the quality of fresh seafood available here makes this a must-have for our menu – and for families to try.

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Yu – It is important to cook with love. Your feelings and emotion are exemplified in the final dish. It is important to share your love for cuisine with each guest who is dining in the restaurant. 

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Yu – The emphasis on making a special memory for each family at that time is so important. To create the environment for them to spend quality time together is remarkable to observe.

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Chef of the Week - Tom Hanrahan in Grand Mound

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Tom Hanrahan Grand Mound, WAChef Tom Hanrahan’s passion for cooking began at the age of 14 and has continued to grow and increase with each step he has made in the profession. At the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, WA., Executive Chef Hanrahan leads the culinary team and delivers exceptional guest experience throughout the resort.

Chef Hanrahan has a passion for the Northwest and enjoys the opportunity travel to other Great Wolf Lodge locations to collaborate with his fellow chefs.

Great Wolf Lodge – Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Tom Hanrahan – One of my signature recipes for guests in Grand Mound is for Roasted Corn and Crab Chowder. We use local ingredients to make fresh chowder each day.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Hanrahan  The ambiance, the fun and the exceptional food we provide is something families will be hard pressed to find other places. We engage the whole family in the dining experience to make it something enjoyable from beginning to end.

Great Wolf Lodge  What new programs have you brought to Great Wolf during your time as a chef?

Chef Hanrahan – One of my passions as a chef is healthy dining for all ages. From our restaurant menus and outlets like Bear Paw Eats & Sweets to our banquet and meetings menus, we continue to add healthy options for families to choose. Secondly, an increased awareness in our allergen training has been instrumental for the Food and Beverage Pack Members. We see it as an extension of our promise to deliver quality food to our all guests. 

Great Wolf Lodge  What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Hanrahan – One of the most inspiring things is training people from the ground up. It’s great to see people start as an aqua chef and make it to culinary management. Each step along the way you can see their growth and drive to succeed. It’s a great feeling to help others fulfill their dreams.

Great Wolf Lodge  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Hanrahan   The people that I work with on a daily basis make the difference.  There are so many inspiring people at my resort and throughout the company. To be able to share ideas and build that camaraderie is something unique to Great Wolf Lodge and the people who choose to work here.

 

Dungeness & Roasted Corn Chowder

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. Pancetta, ground
1 ¼ C Onions, small dice
1 ¼ C Celery, small dice
1 ¼ C Green peppers, small dice
1 ¼ C Red peppers, small dice
1 ¼ C Flour
48 oz Chicken stock
3 lb Whole cob corn char grilled and cut off cob
3 lb Potatoes, small dice

2 Bay leaves
25 oz Heavy cream, scalded
20 oz Milk, scalded
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Worcestershire, to taste
8 oz Rock crab
8 oz Dungeness crab

Directions:

  1. Render the pancetta.  Sweat the onions, celery and peppers in the rendered pancetta.  Add the flour and cook to make a blond roux. 
  2. Add the chicken stock gradually, whipping to work out lumps. 
  3. Bring the soup to a simmer.  Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Puree half of the corn and add it to the soup with the potatoes.  Add the whole corn kernels and bay leaf and simmer until the corn and potatoes are tender. 
  5. Combine the heavy cream and milk; add to the soup.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  6. Add both kinds of crab.  Adjust the seasoning with salt, white pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, to taste.
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Chef of the Week - Tim Reardon in Williamsburg

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Tim Reardon Great Wolf Lodge WilliamsburgStarting as a Sous Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Chef Tim Reardon was promoted to Executive Chef 10 months after joining the team.  His desire to learn and be creative with the resort’s meals is reflected in all that he does.

With culinary arts training from Johnson and Wales University, Chef Reardon brings over 13 years of restaurant and culinary leadership experience to the resort.  Most recently, he won the 2010 Williamsburg Iron Chef Competition and the top two awards at the Taste of Williamsburg 2010. He looks forward to the opportunity to show off his award-winning cuisine with families at the resort each week.   

Great Wolf Lodge - Do you have a favorite recipe or culinary treat that you have created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Reardon - The Mahi Fish Tacos at the outdoor pool is a dish I am very proud of at the Lodge. It is a big hit with guests and a fun seasonal item. My year-round favorite is the Pepper Jack Chicken Quesadillas. While I’m not the one who created the recipe, it is something I could have once a week.  

GWL - What makes a meal at Great Wolf Lodge different from other places?

Chef Reardon - The fact that it is a great atmosphere for kids, but also caters to adults with great regional cuisine. Our range of menu items makes it easy for every member of the family to find something they like to eat.

GWL - What have you brought to Great Wolf Lodge during your time as a chef?

Chef Reardon - Since joining the culinary team at Great Wolf, we have really have raised the bar on food quality.  I have also worked on the initiative to create a standard appetizer menu for all of our resorts, added healthy options for the Spirit Island menu and created an order guide for all properties. While these are things done behind the scenes, everything is to help us continually improve the guest experience at all the lodges.  I hear great feedback from our repeat guests.

GWL - What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Reardon - Probably the fact you cannot be complacent in this field. The ever-changing variety and ingredients to work with create new challenges and change each day. Being able to use creativity on a daily basis is a passion of mine and something I try to instill in my staff.

 

Pepper Jack Chicken Quesadilla

Ingredients

1 each -12 inch Tomato Flour Tortilla
4 oz Chicken Fajita Breast Strip Precooked  
2 ½ oz Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
2 ½ oz Fire Roasted Tri-Peppers
2 oz Pico De Gallo
2 oz Sour Cream
1 each Lime Wedge
1 Sprig Cilantro

 Directions

  1. Assemble Quesadilla as follows: Chicken, Pepper Jack and Tri-Peppers.
  2. Cook on flat top until browned and cheese is melted thoroughly.
  3. Cut in fours and plate as shown.
  4. Serve with a side of sour cream and Pico de Gallo for dipping.
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Chef of the Week - Greg Nicolaou in Traverse City

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Chef Greg Nicolaou Traverse CityChef Greg Nicolaou just celebrated his sixth anniversary at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI. this past March. He takes great pride in the success of the lodge and looks forward to the opportunity to mentor rising chefs. With over 18 years of culinary experience, Chef Nicolaou has a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise.

Chef Nicolaou served as the the founding President of the Northwestern Michigan Chef’s Association, and also voted Chef of the Year by his peers. As the Leader of the Pack in 2010, Chef Nicolaou has a contagious passion for cooking and creating unique family moments at each of his restaurants.

Great Wolf Lodge – How have you made menu items at the Great Wolf Lodge healthier options for guests?

Chef Nicolaou  I think that braising foods is something I’ve done throughout my career, and can be done with a variety of meat cuts.  Braising can be made very healthy by using very little fat, starch, and bringing fresh vegetables and herbs to the center of the plate.

GWL  Have you created a unique dish only found at Great Wolf Lodge?

Chef Nicolaou  We do a couple of very authentic Greek dishes at the Lodge. They have been very well received by the guests.  These dishes range from a pita sandwich made with marinated lamb sirloin, and imported feta cheese to a marinated double semi-boneless chicken breast baked and served with stewed green beans and fresh rice pilaf.

GWL  What is your biggest passion in in general?

Chef Nicolaou  I really enjoy cooking items that my wife, family, and friends. We harvest from our gardens, fields, wetlands and woods in the area and find it very rewarding.  The opportunity to create unique cuisine from local bounty of our Northern Michigan foods is very fulfilling.

GWL  What would you like to tell an aspiring chef?

Chef Nicolaou  I tell young and aspiring culinarians they should absolutely love high temperature, high pressure, and excitement of working in a constantly changing environment.  I try and let them know that educating themselves and training staff never ends.  Also, I try and let them know that their chosen profession is both physically and mentally very demanding, and to go in with their eyes wide open.

GWL – What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special

Chef Nicolaou  Several things actually, first off I’d say the families and kids so wide-eyed with excitement. We have a very professional culinary team and everyone works together. The management from the top down seems genuinely and sincerely concerned about the education, safety and training of all staff.

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Chef of the Week - Greg Kaufman Sandusky, Ohio

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, OhioAs the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio, Chef Greg Kaufman has been a part of the pack since 2001. Chef Kaufman has also helped open numerous Great Wolf Lodge resorts and train new Food and Beverage pack members in the kitchens.

With degrees from Bowling Green State University and the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Chef Kaufman enjoys creating delicious food for families at the resort.

GWL  What inspires you most?

Chef Kaufman  My inspiration would have to be presentation.  I like trying new ideas for plating and presentation.  I look for thing to have a “wow” factor before they leave the kitchen.

GWL  What would you like to tell someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Kaufman  If it is your dream then follow it whatever it is.  This profession takes a lot of dedication and patience to get ahead.  If it is your passion then the time will fly by and always remember that you can learn something from everyone no matter how talented you or they are.  Every day is different; no two days are the same in this profession.

GWL  What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Kaufman – With so many properties there is always someone to reach out to for brainstorming on a variety of topics.  Having so many chefs in so many different regions makes this job entertaining and enjoyable.

GWL – What is your favorite tool in the kitchen?

Chef Kaufman - My favorite kitchen gadget is a simple one - a high heat rubber spatula.  It’s simple and never melts.  You can leave it in a hot pot or skillet and don't have to worry about it burning.  Personally everyone should have one, and they'll never have to buy another one again because they are so great.

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Chef of the Week - Lymont Stoutingberg in Kansas City

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.

Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas CityAs the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Chef Stoutingberg opened the resort in Charlotte/Concord as the Executive Sous Chef before moving to the Sunflower State of Kansas.

Chef Stoutingberg has been working in resort kitchens since 1991. His passion for the culinary field comes through in every dish he creates for families at Great Wolf Lodge.

GWL  What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Stoutingberg – My favorite item are the crab cakes on our menu in Camp Critter. They are served as an appetizer with our signature red pepper aioli and corn salsa (recipe below).

GWL – What makes a meal at Great Wolf different from other places?

Chef Stoutingberg  The family friendly atmosphere where the entire family can enjoy a meal while the kids can still interact with Magi Quest be entertained by Wiley and friends and even splash in the water while mom and dad enjoy their meal..

GWL – Please share any career achievements/highlights or awards that you have earned as a chef either prior to or during your time with Great Wolf.

Chef Stoutingberg  I’ve had the honor to prepared and served meals for many notable dignitaries and events in my years as a chef. Some of them include the Queen of England, Presidents Clinton and George Bush, opening event of USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and the opening of Great Wolf Lodge in Concord.

 

Broiled Crab Cakes 

with Red Pepper Aioli and Corn Salsa

Ingredients:

Crab Cakes Red Pepper Aioli Corn Salsa
  • 1 C mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
  • ¼ C breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ C roasted red bell peppers, drained, patted dry
  • ¼ C mayonnaise
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 fresh ears of corn
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tsp chopped red onion
  • 3 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

To make the crab cakes:

  1. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, lemon juice, Old Bay, bread crumbs and egg.
  2. Gently fold in the crabmeat.
  3. Form four crab cakes, spray skillet with pan spray, lightly cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Top with Red Pepper Aioli and serve with Corn Salsa (recipes below).

To make the aioli:

  1. Finely chop the garlic in the food processor. Add the peppers and blend until almost smooth.
  2. Blend in the mayonnaise, and lime juice with the machine running, blend in the oil.
  3. Season the aioli, to taste, with salt, cayenne and pepper. 

To make the corn salsa:

  1. Grill jalapeno skin-side down, until charred but still firm, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly; finely chop.
  2. Roast corn in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, after cooling cut kernels of husk.
  3. Mix with rest of ingredients jalapeno, cilantro and red onion in a bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, the lime juice, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt.
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Chef of the Week - Chef Christian Massey in Mason

During the summer months, I’ll have the opportunity to introduce you to our talented culinary team. Our executive chefs work each day to provide delicious, healthy, fun meals to our guests. I look forward to introducing them to you so you can learn a little more about what makes them howl in the Great Wolf Lodge kitchen.  

Christian Massey is the Executive Chef at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH.  Massey has been creating culinary creations for families in Mason since 2006.
 
Starting out as a culinary lead, Massey has held several different titles in the Mason food and beverage team. He worked his way up to Executive Chef at the resort and enjoys teaching others and helping to inspire their personal growth.
 
Great Wolf Lodge - What is your all-time favorite food?

Chef Christian – My favorite food would have to be ahi tartar with quail egg.

GWL - Now that's not something we serve at the Lodge. What have you created just for Great Wolf Lodge guests?

Chef Christian – There are so many to choose from.  To name two of my favorites:  cheesecake with lemon essence/zest and candied micro basil and fried portabella mushrooms with bruschetta.

GWL - Since you've been at Great Wolf Lodge, what have you brought to the dining experience?

Chef Christian - We have created upscale banquet menus for our meetings and events at the resort, as well as implemented our Food Allergy Training Program. Our guests have such different needs and we don't want them to have to worry about their dietary restrictions while on vacation.

GWL - What inspires you most as a chef?

Chef Christian – I love to make people happy with food. When you see the expression on someone's face as they enjoy something you've made, it makes it all worth it.

GWL - What advice do you offer to someone who wants to become a chef?

Chef Christian – I tell young chefs to make sure they know what they’re getting into. Time, commitment to constantly learning new ideas and incorporating new concepts, and pushing people to be better at their jobs is a big part of being a chef.  I also think it is important that chefs know how to teach others and help inspire their personal growth.  

GWL - What makes being a chef at Great Wolf Lodge so special?

Chef Christian – Being Executive Chef at Great Wolf Lodge is a different type of work. I don’t just at a stove, but I interact with guests and group sales clients on a daily basis. I know that I have a chance to help each of our guests have an even better stay. Creating food is just the beginning.

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