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Recently, I've been debating taking the plunge. I blame it on COVID, winter weather and the fact that I do not have any nearby pool options for my kids. In August, I drove four hours to Oregon for a pool at a Hyatt Place. Great Wolf Lodge has been on my radar despite the resort fees, unglamorous reviews and divisive reputation.
On Groundhog Day (February 2), I woke to an email offering $84 deals. A search for the upcoming weekend quickly resulted in a handful of available rooms at the rate in the email. I reserved the room I thought met our needs for $84, plus a resort fee of 29.99 and taxes.
As seen below, I captured a screen shot of my stay summary with the $84 promotional rate. Somehow, I missed the next screen but the total with taxes came to $125 and some change.
I can assure you that I looked at the screen several times as I put in my credit card information. I am mad at myself for missing that next screen shot. However, I was not at home and trying to book on the fly before the rooms disappeared. For those wondering, I make it a habit to screen shot bookings, especially when promotions are involved. I also do this with credit card applications or anything having special terms.
Now, I will admit that technically the email stated mid-week and I did not book a mid-week stay, but as you can see the price was still $84 on my screen. I am meeting a minimum spend on my new American Express Platinum card, so I used it for the charges. Finally, if you ever go to Great Wolf Lodge, they are on the Rakuten shopping portal so you can earn points or cash back on your reservation.
I was excited that I had scored this deal. I love getting a deal, especially one where I can create memories with the kids. A short time later, I received my confirmation, but was astounded by the text. A whopping $554 for my one night stay. I quickly jumped on the phone to see what had happened and cancel if that was the rate.
The whole phone call was almost eerie. It was as if the phone representative had heard this a thousand times. Yes, my rate was different than the booking screen. No, they were not going to honor my price, regardless of my screen shot evidence. My only choice was to cancel, which I did.
Other Glaring Issues
I was still mad. I began to try and rebook another night. A few hours had passed and the $84 rooms were gone. I dove further into the website and noticed something that did not sit right.
Look at my confirmation for what I thought was an $84 room. The regular price of the room was a ridiculous $499. Now look at my confirmation email, where the room is listed for $474. What is the actual cost?
I went to rebook the same night and initially got a $144 offer, which after taxes and resort fees would have been $191. I was mad, and not paying that. And now, the regular room price was a $499 room again.
As I searched multiple dates, the room rates continued to vary without rhyme or reason. I finally got the price back to what my confirmation email stated. However, the standard rate for the room was now listed at $749! Three different rates for the same room on the same dates.
The most laughable part is that Great Wolf Lodge promotes a best rate guarantee. I guess that only applies to sites other than their own. As one last note, the resort continued to email me all week about my upcoming visit.
Deceptive practices like these are what ruins travel experiences and turn people off on a brand. Many people may not have checked the actual price in their confirmation email and been stuck with a $554 bill! Lets be honest, would you walk away with kids in tow and ready for a great time? A waterpark should be a fun, enjoyable experience for the family.
One of the reasons I had not previously booked at Great Wolf Lodge are the notoriously high resort fees and taxes. I believe those were clearly shown, albeit only on the final screen. In the end, I am glad I did not tell my kids about the trip right away. We'll find another way to enjoy our weekend together. Still, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth from the whole experience. Have you ever been to Great Wolf Lodge? Did you have issues? Come to our Facebook group and share your thoughts.