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!!

 

12
Feb
2013

As you’ve read in past blog posts and seen in our lodges, we’ve been really busy lately. We’ve launched two new websites, added new attractions, hosted fun family events and even helped break a world record.  All while working to deliver the best experience to all of our guests.  Like I said, we’ve been busy. 

And it’s great to be recognized for all the hard work—from our guests and from the industry.  Back in December we found out that we are the winner of five HSMAI Adrian Awards

I was lucky enough to travel to New York City to accept the awards on the behalf of Great Wolf Resorts. 

The event took place at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square.  Among the attendees were other hotel greats like Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental. There were also a lot of travel folks there like our friends at Pocono Tourism and Visit Cabarrus

The evening started with networking over dinner—where our Gold entries were displayed for attendees to see—and ended with the big awards show to honor the Platinum winners and the Best of Shows.   

It was an honor to be in the room with so many great leaders in the hospitality industry.  And of course, winning five awards wasn’t bad either.

We took home Bronze in the TV Commercial category with our “Everybody In” campaign.  Two Silver awards included our GreatWolf.com redesign and our new GreatWolfKids.com.  And last, but not least, two Gold awards for our Gingerbread House campaign and our blog—Behind the Howl. (Yes, you are reading an award winning blog.) 

 

Thank you to HSMAI for recognizing us in these categories and thanks to our fans and guests.  All of this hard work is for you.

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

Great Wolf Resorts Bed TestingWorking in the corporate office, and not physically in a Great Wolf Lodge resort, I’m often asked, “What do you do all day if you’re not in the hotel?” Well—a recent answer would have been, “I relax in bed all day.”

The office next to mine currently has two comfy, queen size beds, fully made up with tons of pillows and crisp, white sheets. Go a little further down the hall, and you’ll find three more beds, just waiting for someone to take a nap. It’s like having a Majestic Bear Suite right here in the office! I promise, though, these beds are not the norm. They are just the latest chapter in our ongoing effort to continually improve the guest experience at our resorts. This week’s focus has been on hibernation hours—when everyone is sleeping.

2013 is going to be a big year for each of our resorts. From new attractions, to new entertainment and new dining experiences, I’m excited about everything we are adding to our lodges this year. We have a lot of great news to share!

Great Wolf Resorts CEO Kim SchaeferHere’s a sneak peek—we’re working to give you an even better night’s sleep! The beds set up in our offices are all samples—new mattresses, new linens, and new color schemes. Together with our CEO, Kim Schaefer (and her wolf pup to cuddle), the corporate team tried out the mattresses to help determine which would help give Great Wolf Lodge guests the perfect night’s sleep.

Everyone shared their thoughts, “Too hard.” “Too soft.” And, “This is so comfortable!” Some people bounced on them, a few tried to snuggle and others stretched out, fully relaxed. It was a fun, albeit slightly unusual day. And our procurement department also had a mini challenge for all of us. The bed experiment also featured a blind “taste test” of sorts—our current Great Wolf Lodge bed was one of the five!

Physically lying around on the office beds was just one part of the overall decision making that will take place in the coming weeks. But I’m really excited to share that just in time for summer, several resorts will have brand new bedding—linens, mattresses, box springs and pillows—throughout the entire property. And while I may not know which actual mattress will become “the” new bed, I’m glad my fellow Pack Members and I got a chance to try them out.

I wonder if I can squeeze in just one more nap…

Great Wolf Resorts Bed Testing

Lucky 13 WinnersA New Year always means new opportunities, new resolutions and new adventures. To put our best paw forward, we kicked off the year with our Lucky 13 sweepstakes. We were thrilled by the response! Over 2,000 families entered, telling us about their children who are turning 13 in this decidedly lucky year, 2013.

Howls of congratulations to the following parents whose kids will soon be teens. We look so forward to helping them ease into these exciting years with a stay at their favorite Great Wolf Lodge for $20.13:

  • April Duritza
  • Kelly Fender
  • Sidney Kirk
  • Danielle McKenzie
  • Wendy Player
  • Jerry White
  • Zaida Rodriguez
  • Mike Rollberg
  • Melissa Jenkins
  • Lisa Lanz
  • Debbie Jones
  • Bernadette Scharf
  • Anthony Brandt

Two of our winning families will be celebrating turning 13 in a big way this year: one has twins, and the other has triplets! They definitely have enough people to tackle the River Canyon Run or the Howlin’ Tornado together.

Turning 13 is a great milestone for any child and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate than at Great Wolf Lodge. If your family didn’t win—all is not lost! Check out our deals page, sign up for our epack and look at our birthday party packages. Oh—and hopefully we helped everyone cure their Triskaidekaphobia.

 

As guests of our lodges know, there are a ton of fun events that happen every day—like Story Time and DJ Dance Parties.

But I bet they don’t know just how fun our corporate office is—yes, you can have fun at a corporate office.   In a recent article on careerbliss.com, we were actually featured for our annual office Halloween party.

We even have a team of people who come up with new ways to have fun at our corporate office.  Their latest event—the Super Bowl Dip Contest.  Last Thursday, members of our corporate pack brought in all kinds of dips. We had salsas, guacamoles, spinach and pizza-flavored dips. And no Super Bowl party would be complete without a buffalo chicken dip. 

After all the dips were tasted (tough job), we voted for the favorite.  And of course, our Corporate Director of Food & Beverage won. (Yes, I’m still a little bitter, but it’s hard to beat a trained chef).   It took a little begging, but I managed to get the recipe.  Now you can bring an award-winning dip from a Great Wolf Lodge Chef to your Super Bowl party.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot
  • Tortilla Chips

Directions:

  1. Soften Cream Cheese.
  2. Combine Chicken, Cream Cheese, Ranch and Hot Sauce in a large bowl and mix well, use an electric mixer if possible.
  3. Gently Heat in a Crock Pot or stove top on Low until it is warm, about 140 degrees.
  4. Serve with Chips.

I have four children.  The last, my son, was born at only 23 weeks and weighed just 1 pound. We knew that he’d have some special needs as he grew older, but that only made him more special to us. He is in a self-contained class in school and is well liked by all his classmates, as well as his teachers. He also loves to swim. He is on a swim team and he just loves the water. He loves the quietness that he experiences and how fast he can move in the water. In the water, he’s not so different.

As a family, we love Great Wolf Lodge. We try and go as often as possible, if we’re lucky we go once a year. My son doesn’t think as quickly as other kids—but he loves playing MagiQuest. Somehow he remembers. He remembers where to look to wave his wand. He can tell his sisters which floor in which direction when they can't find something. Last year, he was the first one to face the dragon. He failed. Another boy—complete stranger—helped him. The joy that was on his face was priceless. You know the famous commercial, you can buy just about anything, but utter joy—priceless.

It’s obvious that my son has difficulties, but instead of being made fun of him—this stranger made the fight against the dragon a special memory that my son and I will never, ever forget. This boy, maybe 10 or 11, gave my son hints, showed him what to do and helped him defeat the dragon. The sense of pride and accomplishment was felt by everyone that surrounded them. My son will most likely remember all those hints for the next time he faces that dragon. I wish I had thought to thank that young man, but he had walked away. My son’s sisters never were able to defeat the dragon, so my son left Great Wolf Lodge that weekend having done something that no one else was able to, and that never happens to him. I can’t wait to get back so he can teach his sisters how to defeat the dragon—what a great moment that will be, for all of us.


Name: Deb Sarhan
City: EHT
State: NJ
Email: Jerzydeb@hotmail.com
Lodge: Pocono Mountains, PA

 

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.

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?

I’m so excited to announce that the all new Great Wolf Kids Coloring & Activity Book is now at Great Wolf Lodge—full of mazes, matching, coloring, tracing, counting, finding, designing, drawing and unscrambling!  There are HOURS of activities stuffed into these 40 pages of fun.  Coloring & Activity Books are available now in Cub Club® at every Great Wolf Lodge—grab some for the kids during your next trip!

But while the adventure with this fun new book is about to begin for your kids, it is just winding down for us.  And I thought you might want to know…how does a good idea—like a fun activity book—get to Great Wolf Lodge?  Here’s the “behind the howl” story for you.

Step One:  Research it.  The Kids Experience Pack goes to work finding the most fun, engaging activities that will be enjoyable for kids of most ages.  We dig though section after section of in-store kids’ books, scrolled the top-selling sections of online distributors and combed our own files of the best activities for crayons and pencils.  When reviewing the list, we got rid of anything too hard or too boring and kept working on anything that really made our crayons happy.

Step Two:  Brand it.  My favorite.  It’s one thing to provide you with a white sheet of paper covered with black-lined mazes.  Start here.  End there.  No problem. It’s another to put a story behind WHO is starting, WHERE are they going and WHY are they wanting to get there?  So what used to be a block-shaped maze, is now the shape of an ice-cream cone that Violet navigates to get to her favorite sweet treat: a strawberry ice cream cone!  We wanted to give you a birthday cupcake to design—but who baked it?  Sprinkles the Bear, of course. And a crossword is no fun if you can’t figure out the answers—so factoids are strategically placed all throughout the book to keep your kids learning and help them along the way.

Step 3:  Design it.  Our Creative Services Pack is just nuts about new Kids projects.  After receiving the fun content, they went to work putting together all the wonderful artwork.  Some of the characters are sporting their pajamas for the first time on coloring pages, while other pages give you tips and hints to learn to draw the characters on your own!  Every page is full of color, with just the right amount of room for you to add your own artistry.  The vivid backgrounds and fun activities really give kids a lot to howl about!

Step 4:  Test it.  After all of our pack members went through the book, we were ready to put it to the test—bring in the kids.  Were the 3 and 4-year olds thrilled to see their favorite characters on the pages? YES.  Did the 8 and 9-year-olds have a blast competing against mom in a game of Dots?  YES!  Did the tweens and teens agree that the book held an “adorable factor” that couldn’t be better? YES!  

After a few days at the printer, the new Coloring & Activity Books have arrived at Great Wolf Lodge.  All I can think is, man, if I was a crayon I’d be all OVER this book! 

So next time you’re packing that suitcase full of swimsuits and goggles—don’t forget to grab a box of crayons!  

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.

Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water ParkMy son had decided before his birthday that all he wanted was money so he could save for a trip to a water park. He continued to save his money over the next year in hopes that he would be able to afford a trip to the water park, every penny he got went into his secret stash for his.

We decided to book our first water park experience as a family at the Great Wolf Lodge. To say he was excited to be going to a water park was an understatement. To see the absolute amazement in his eyes when he walked into THE Great Wolf Lodge, was beyond words. When he was thinking of a water park, I am pretty sure that the Great Wolf Lodge was not on his radar. He was speechless but smiling from ear to ear as we walked in. As we made our way to our Wolf Den room, the smile continued. I’m pretty sure he thought he had just checked in to waterpark heaven and he hadn’t even made it to the waterpark yet. 

We got settled into our room and prepared to get our swimming attire on and make our way to the waterpark area. I wouldn’t have thought his smile could get any larger until we walked into the water park area. As most children started walking quickly to the different water areas and activities, I watched my son literally step back and soak it all in—left to right and right to left—as his eyes filled up with joy. I looked over and saw my husband who seemed to be in the same “oh my”  zone.

We had such a great experience as a family. The restaurants, Story Time with our pajamas on and another fun filled day at the water park. It truly is fun for all and the time we had on that first visit will forever be a special memory.


Name: Lisa Reynolds
City: Troy
State: Ohio
Email: lisasawchek@yahoo.com
Lodge: Cincinnati/Mason, OH

 

I love theming. While I am not very artistic, I do have great admiration for places that understand theming and create immersive environments. My husband and I love to visit theme parks, water parks and resorts, not just for the attractions and rides themselves but also for the overall look, feel and even smell that is created to help “transport” you to another place.   

At Great Wolf Lodge, we create an immersive environment for your family. The inspiration for the look and feel of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts comes from the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Our resorts have a quiet, comfortable, rustic feel. From the color on the wall, to the wood fixtures and "log cabin-like" furniture, to the warm and inviting fireplace, the focal point of each lobby, we surround you in our forest home. As you look up at the antler chandeliers, and around at the soft earthy colors and cozy furniture—have you ever looked down? You should. We theme for your feet, too.

I love that our carpets reflect our lodge theme. Depending on which resort you visit, you may be greeted by bears, moose and “patchwork” pattern or a lighter patterned floor with leaves, soft greens and fall colors. If you haven’t really noticed the carpet—I guarantee your kids have. While visiting the Great Wolf Lodge Mason, I watched one little girl play her version of hopscotch by only touching the “animal squares.”  She skipped over the patterns and prints and moved her feet by hopping from the bear to the deer to the moose and so on. It took her family awhile to get to their room—but everyone had fun along the way!

In 2012, our resorts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and Sandusky, Ohio were fully renovated and that meant adding brand new carpet throughout the entire resort. The colors pop brighter than ever and little feet enjoy the plush feel as they scamper down the hallways from the family suite to the water park.

Breaking with the outdoor theme a bit, the Northern Lights arcades also got a full facelift (that will continue into 2013) and once again, feet were not forgotten. I love the new swirly design, stars and bright colors that enhance the overall look and feel of the arcade. And don’t worryWiley the Wolf left his “paw of approval” on this new floor, too. The carpet is filled with our signature Great Wolf Lodge paw print.

Next time you visit a Great Wolf Lodge resort, be sure to glance down at your feet during your stay. They just may be pretty enough for a picture!

Like any parent on vacation, I enjoy the purchase of a good souvenir or spending money on an exciting experience that I can enjoy in the company of my family.  But often, it's the playtime that we enjoy in between the scheduled events that makes our family time so memorable.  Here's a list of seven ways we enjoy our time at Great Wolf Lodge, adding a few extra doses of smiles inbetween the laughter for no extra cost.

Carpet at Great Wolf LodgeWalk on the Moose:  For anyone shorter than Mom’s elbows, this game is a classic.  The carpet at Great Wolf Lodge is covered with a custom pattern that can include bears, moose, deer and a variety of other patterns. Make the walk to and from your guest room fun by seeing who can “only walk on the moose”.  Of course, each family member can claim their own pattern.  Littler legs may get more “points” by only stepping on shapes that include triangle patterns, or maybe just the squares with leaves on them.

Wave the Wand:  When kids are too young (or too tired) for a full-on game of MagiQuest, a walk through the lodge with your favorite wand is still an adventure.  Find chattering wall art, swinging chipmunks or trees that light up in the restaurant.  If your house is like mine, then you have a couple of MagiQuest wands on hand, just bring one on your next trip and point it at anything you can activate.  

Color Your Character:  Coloring pages and crayons are somewhere to be found at every lodge.  Many locations have oversized art walls in the Grand Lobby, but you can always find some crayons and pages in Cub Club.  Color your favorite characters at the lodge and hang them in your room at home.

Meet the Bucket:  While climbing the watery bridges of Fort Mackenzie, everyone can hear the DING-DING-DING of the Tipping Bucket, signaling another terrific splash below.  For those willing to brave the mighty water pouring down from above, it seems like forever until the you “meet the bucket” for the next splash.  Insert. Fun. Here.  What can YOU do while you wait for the bucket?  Challenge yourself!  Ride the built in slide at the top of the fort?  Twice? Climb the rope ladder? Fill and splash three funnel buckets on a friend below?  Remember: walking feet only and—please! don’t lose your shorts!

Water Spray Target Range:  Place the kids on a nearby water toy that sprays water—check Fort Mackenzie or the kiddie pool area! Parents move along Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Parkthe target range that the water will reach, allowing kids to test their aim.  (Most dads score big points for this, especially with all of the other kids that join in!)

Collect the Cards:  Every lodge has a sign near the Grand Lobby that announces when the Great Wolf Kids characters will be around for a meet & greet.  Find this and set your smartphone alarms!  With the exception of Story Time (each night at 8:00 pm), characters will be handing out character trading cards when they are out and about.  Meet them to collect cards during your stay—and grab some great pics while you’re there to share on Facebook!

I’m Thinking of a Friend:  I admit, we play this game ALL THE TIME.  In the car.  At the dinner table.  In line at the library.  Anywhere our family waits, we play I’m Thinking of a Friend.  So while your din-din is on the way at the lodge, or you wait to get to the top of the slide tower, why not give it a try?  The youngest person goes first, stating “I’m thinking of a friend…” and adding 2-3 clues about the character they are thinking of, including one of what they look like and one of where the character lives—“that is brown and wears a backpack and visits Great Wolf Lodge”.  Other family pack members try and guess for the win:  “Brinley Bear!”  RIGHT!  This is fun with all sorts of your kids' favorite characters, but of course, my fav are from Great Wolf Lodge.

 

Every day our lodges work hard to help families make memories. From simple moments in the Cub Club between daddy and daughter, to annual family traditions—they see it all.  

Working in the Corporate Office, I don't get to experience all of these stories first-hand, but I do get to hear about a lot of them. Some of our guest share their stories on Facebook, or they tweet us during their stay.  They even take the time to submit their favorite memories to our blog.  But my favorite way to hear about the stories is from our pack members at the lodge.  The following story was emailed to our Great Wolf Lodge - Cincinnati/Mason pack members and I just had to share it.  

My son, Stephen, returned to us from Army Ranger school in Georgia very late the evening of December 16th. The next day, I helped to launch a scheme that would "buy" him the time to drive to Kenwood Mall to purchase Brittney's (now his fiance) dream engagement ring. The next "project" became creating a special moment for the proposal. "Stevie" (as I lovingly refer to him) was a little undone because his younger sister, Meghan, just became engaged on December 21st—her fiance took her to New York City and surprised her with quite a lavish production. Stevie was determined to do something equally grand for Brittney (without stealing his sister's thunder).  What became problematic was the amount of time he had left before he would have to return to Georgia. So, those circumstances, combined with a very anxious and curious Brittney, inspired him to secretly turn to me, again, for the next "scheme." Given that it was the early evening of Christmas Day, I wasn't completely optimistic that we could create the moment he desired—that is, until I placed the call to Great Wolf Lodge.

When Jennifer heard my explanation, she didn't hesitate to spring into action. (She, quite honestly, sounded as giddy as I did...it was fantastic!) Through just a couple of phone calls and her consultation with her leader, Jen, the plan came together that offered Stevie the chance to propose in your beautiful lobby, complete with snow—on cue!  When they arrived at their suite, they were delighted by a special arrangement of chocolate-covered strawberries and a select celebratory beverage—details crafted by Jennifer and Jen—details that made the experience complete! In Stevie's and Brittney's words, "Everything was amazing...and awesome!"

The next day, I texted Stevie to see how things were going. He replied that they had checked out of their suite, but were "hanging out" in Great Wolf's lobby because it was such a "cool place...a great place to relax, talk and have some coffee." (I also think they were continuing to relish in the experience and didn't want it to end!)

As you might imagine, by now many family members have heard this story and plan to visit your resort—even the family that's local, including me! (It's funny...I had previously considered staying at Great Wolf, myself, thinking it would be a great spot to bring my husband, given that he's terminally ill and can no longer travel any sort of distance. It's that thought that inspired me to think of Great Wolf for Stevie and Brittney's special occasion.) As well, there will, most assuredly be events related to their upcoming wedding (not sure if it will be in 2013 or 2014, as of yet). We will be certain to locate guests and/or host additional gatherings at Great Wolf! And, let there be no doubt: our immediate and ever-lasting loyalty to Great Wolf Lodge was earned by Jennifer and Jen.

Thank you and have a wonderful Holiday!

Thank you to Susan Hampton for allowing me to share her story, and for letting us be a part of her family's big day.

Remember being in middle school and having to learn a new vocabulary list each week? You’d study the list just enough to get through the test and then move on. And, occasionally a word would stick with you. Welltoday’s blog post is sponsored by such a word. Triskaidekaphobia.  And most importantlywhat Great Wolf Lodge is doing to combat it!

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Did you know this fear is so real, that most hotels do not have a thirteenth floor and airplanes do not have a thirteenth row? 13 has long been viewed as an unlucky number. For anyone who has the fear of the number 13, 2013 will probably be a tough year.

The number 13 isn’t all bad, though. The United States was formed from 13 original colonies. A baker’s dozen is 13 yummy treats, not twelve. Turning 13 is a milestone for kids as they transition from child to teenager. And to give this New Year a lucky start—we are excited to announce the search for the Great Wolf Lodge Lucky 13.

Is your child turning 13 this year? Perhaps your niece, nephew or grandchild? Wouldn’t a trip to Great Wolf Lodge be the perfect way to help ensure they have a luck-filled year? Families that have a child celebrating their 13th birthday in 2013 are invited to enter the Lucky 13 contest.

When: Sunday, January 13, 2013 from 12:01 a.m. Central Time until 11:59 p.m. Central Time that night.

How To Enter: Eligible guests can send an email to lucky13@greatwolf.com with the subject line “Lucky 13” and the following information in the body of the email:

  1. Your name (parent or guardian submitting the entry)
  2. Your address 
  3. Name of your child who is turning 13 in 2013
  4. Birth date of your child who is turning 13 in 2013

13 lucky winners will be randomly selected to receive a single night’s stay at the Great Wolf Lodge resort nearest them for just $20.13. This very lucky reservation rate is more than 90% off of the average cost of a stay in a Family Suite at Great Wolf Lodge.

For official sweepstakes rules, visit www.greatwolf.com/sweepstakes.

Don’t have a child turning 13 this year? That’s Ok—all luck is not lost. You can still save up to 20% off a multi-night stay at your favorite Great Wolf Lodge by entering the promotion code EARLY to book your reservation by January 18. Want to keep this lucky savings streak going? Join the Great Wolf Lodge E-pack to receive news about limited time promotions and deals all year long! 

So next time you play Trivial Pursuit, you'll not only know the definition of triskaidekaphobia but you’ll also remember Great Wolf Lodge resorts helped ensure 13 teens were not affected by it!

 

 

I grew up in a family with three kids. Vacation hotel stays always presented a challenge. Most hotel rooms could only accommodate four people. Inevitably one of us slept on an uncomfortable fold-away bed that came at an extra cost, or on the floor. 

A trip to Great Wolf Lodge would not have presented this challenge to my family. No one would have to sleep on the floor and everyone could have comfortably spread out. My parents would have been happy too—they would not have had to pay for a second room so we could enjoy this comfort.

Great Wolf Lodge resorts are all-suite properties. Most families book a Family Suite, which includes two queen beds and a full size sleeper sofa, so six people can comfortably relax after their full day of water park fun! And while the Family Suite is a wonderful option, we offer so many additional others, too!  

During a visit to the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, we surprised our son with a KidCabin suite. While he is probably too young to full enjoy it, he immediately recognized the KidCabin was just for him. The suite provides a separate sleeping area for children, complete with two bunk beds and a third bed. (It would have been perfect for my sister, brother and me.)

The KidCabin has its own TV, and while it does not have a door, the suite’s layout makes it easy to put your pups to bed, but still keep lights on in the room. (How many of us have sat in a dark hotel room because the baby was sleeping?) And, if you’re keeping score, the KidCabin suite is perfect for seven people, with its queen size bed and pull out sleeper sofa.

The KidKamp and Wolf Den are two other suites that are as fun and playful as they are spacious and comfortable. The cozy “tent” and animal-themed den feature bunk beds in a similar, separate space just for kids.

Cute theming aside, you can choose several other unique suite to meet your needs. My personal favorite is the Whirlpool Fireplace suite. Luxury king size bed, inroom fireplace, huge whirlpool tub. While this suite is for four people, nothing says vacation like a room with a fireplace. Great Wolf Lodge Suite

Our guests tell us that Great Wolf Lodge is the perfect destination for family reunions. From the Majestic Bear suite which includes a breakfast bar; to the Grizzly Bear suite and its two bathrooms; to the truly amazing Great Frontier Loft condo in Wisconsin Dells complete with four bedrooms; Great Wolf Lodge resorts have the perfect alternative to the boring hotel room.

Don’t forget all of our suites include a complimentary microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator, so sippy cups, bottles, snacks and leftovers from your dinner at the Loose Moose buffet can be saved and enjoyed throughout your stay.

For your next vacation - what suite style will you surprise your family with?

One of the best parts of my job is finding the little vignettes and anecdotes that collectively make our full Great Wolf Lodge story. Recently, one of our resorts did something that goes beyond the howl and straight to the heart. In the spirit of this holiday season, here is the story of the Norman family and their recent visit to Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg.

At Great Wolf Lodge, we focus on creating family traditions and making memories. For five year old Nathan Norman from Rustburg, Virginia, his recent visit made memories that will last a lifetime.

Like most boys his age, Nathan is happy, energetic and full of joy and hope. Unlike most boys, Nathan is fighting brain cancer. And in the middle of doctor appointments and treatments, Nathan’s parents are always looking to ways to help him feel and be like every other little boy. For example, in September, Nathan told his mom that Christmas lights would make him feel better. Soon his home was decorated, and his neighbors' homes were decorated, to help encourage his early holiday spirit. In October, a group even came to his home to sing Christmas carols to Nathan and his family.

Two weeks ago, the family took a much needed trip to Great Wolf Lodge and there, Nathan’s holiday dreams got even better.

Nathan’s heroes are those who keep us safe—firefighters, policemen, EMT’s—the men and women who help others when they need it most. When the York County Fire Department heard Nathan was coming to Great Wolf Lodge, they wanted to do something really special for him. They partnered with Fire Rescue TV who put out their own “All Points Bulletin” to create a lasting memory for Nathan. Together with the resort, the area's first responders threw Nathan his own parade.  

The fun began with a personal escort to the resort by police motorcade. Upon arrival, Nathan was greeted by Great Wolf Lodge’s Wiley the Wolf and characters from the local stations. The family then boarded an antique fire track to lead the parade around the resort.

The extra special treat was the arrival of Santa Claus on the Life Flight helicopter. He surprised Nathan and his family with gifts and then a ride in the helicopter. And to think – all of this took place before Nathan ever set foot in the resort!

During their stay, Nathan and his family got to experience everything! They enjoyed a dining experience in the magical life size gingerbread house, road the resort’s trolley and splashed in the waterpark—complete with their own personal cabana.

At this special time of year it warms my heart not only as a Great Wolf Lodge Pack Member, but also as a mom, to know there are people in our community who help others. Thank you, York County Fire, Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, and Nathan, for making us all smile.

 

When I was younger I used to love the “Hidden Pictures” puzzles in magazines. You know the ones—find the hidden apple, the hidden house, the hidden mouse. Probably the only good thing about going to the doctor as a child was having the chance to read Highlights magazine and its monthly puzzle.

That’s why I took great delight in learning that the gingerbread house at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City was not just a beautiful and delicious masterpiece—it is also a life size puzzle, complete with its own hidden pictures!

For two months, the team at the resort combined their baking skills with their production skills to build their gingerbread house. The ingredient list alone was huge—it took 1656 lbs. of confection sugar, 600 lbs. of sugar, 200 lbs. of popcorn and 300 lbs. of egg whites to create the unique structure. This year, the team also got special assistance from HGTV design expert Carter Oosterhouse. But even Carter got excited when the team told him that about the little game they added to their fairy tale-inspired home.

The “I Spy Gingerbread Rocks” were created and cleverly baked into the walls of the gingerbread house. Just seeing the house is not enough—guests are encouraged to seek and find each of the animals cleverly hidden in plain sight. And of course, the exterior of the house is not the only place to find unique, treat-based art. While dining inside, guests can also see artwork made from sugar crystals of Wiley the Wolf and friends, and  woodland creatures decorating a forest tree that lights up.

During my visit, I got in touch with my inner puzzle-loving child. List in hand, I looked for: a large turtle; two baby turtles, two wolves—one howling at the moon, a buffalo, the state of Michigan (complete with a candy heart denoting Traverse City); three gingerbread men, a foot, a bear, an elk, a fish, a snake, and a wolf pawprint. It was a fun challenge.

As I write this, I can visualize where each of these hidden creatures was located on the house. However, I must admit, I never did find the bear or the elk. So, to anyone making the trip to experience Snowland at the lodge in Michigan this month—I challenge you to find everything on the list. And then send me an email letting me know where that elk was hiding.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear—or so I’ve heard.  Sticking with our Snowland theme this month, we are giving you another downloadable activity to bring Snowland to your home.

So far we’ve helped you make your own miniature Great Wolf Lodge gingerbread house and taught you how to do the Reindeer Romp.  Now we will spread some Christmas cheer with the lyrics to the Snowland song and other holiday favorites.  

Just download the template here and start singing.  Remember, the louder you sing the more cheer you’ll bring.