Kalahari Poconos - Family Fun in the Pocono Mountains
Tucked away in the Northeast corner of Pennsylvania is a resort that is almost like its own city. Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in the Pocono Mountains has something for everyone and in every season. While the spa is always a must, time spent together with family creating memories through experiences is something I am trying to do more of as family health and well-being is just as important as our individual well-being. Family travel with a large family like mine is typically complicated. There are 7 of us, and when my step-son is here, 8 is enough. Most family getaways cater to families of 4, 5 max. That means jumping through hoops to configure a way for all of us to travel, stay and play somewhere without pricing us out of the ability to go. Most times I give up and going on a specific family vacation (or staycation) just remains a "maybe someday." Out the gate, the one great thing about Kalahari is that they offer room sizes for everyone and there is typically some sort of promotion going on to make it more affordable. For this specific trip, we stayed in the African Queen suite, which is a two bedroom, two bath room that can accomodate up to 8 people. Perfect!
First ImpressionsPulling down the long stretch of road that leads into the resort, you can get a glimpse at their Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventures, which you can get to via their Gorilla Express train. Viewing the area in the winter while the trees are bare, the intricate course looks amazing. We all remarked that it was something we'd like to try in the warmer months. Prior to entering the resort parking lot, you can see that there is an expansion going on. They are currently doubling the size of their convention center to 205,000 sq ft. Kalahari Poconos is already massive, but they are capitalizing on an opportunity that doesn't really exist here in our rural area, which is also great for surrounding businesses. Once in the parking lot, the building is beautiful and while incredibly large, you don't really feel it until you are inside. There is valet parking, drop off at the front door and you can always just park your car yourself. Once inside, it is busy and bustling with people like a small city. Restaurants and cafes are directly in front of you and to the either side of you, stairs to the lower level (arcade, cafeteria, rooms and waterpark) are also in front of you. There's a gorgeous fountain, larger than life animal sculptures and a massive floor to ceiling glass wall overlooking the waterpark. We arrived on a day that was only about 65% capacity, but getting through the check-in process was smooth and efficient. Our family was excited to explore and have the opportunity to spend some quality time together.
Accomodations: African Queen SuiteI'll be honest, I've never had the ability to stay in a room this size before. We were all thrilled at the balance of both privacy and togetherness it offered. When you first walk in, the common bathroom was to our left with a toilet and large over-sized bathtub. The entryway was lined with countertops and it offered a wide space for moving around. On the one side it had the coffee maker, sink and small refrigerator. To the right was a large bedroom with two queen sized beds and a closet. There is a living room/dining area with a sleeper sofa, large chair, table with 3 chairs, a fireplace, flat screen TV and a sliding glass door that led to a balcony that overlooked the outdoor waterpark. The master bedroom held a king-sized bed with closet and full bathroom. I wanted to get lost in the large, deep bathtub, but we spent so much time in the resort, I never got the chance. It was calling my name though. Something we all really enjoyed was that the room seemed well insulated from noise. There was only one time when I had to be "that guy" and ask the front desk to ask our neighbors to take the noise level down as they had an active party going on with loud music at midnight and their suite was on the side where my kids were sleeping. Security was quick to ask them to quiet down, which prompted them to turn up the music louder, but we always bring a white noise machine with us when we travel, so that helped drown out the noise. Other than this, you really couldn't hear anyone in the hallway and with the exception of the loud music, at no other time could you hear anyone in the neighboring rooms.
ArcadeThis place is a child's dream! It felt like the video games were endless. I'd turn a corner and there would be more. There were so many varying kinds of games for all levels and all ages. My boys range in age from 20 years old to 3 years old and they all equally had a great time. My 3 year old enjoyed the mini bowling alley that was made just for the littles, but made him feel like a big kid. The older boys and I did the 7-D Motion Theater, which was pretty cool and then the boys went on to do the Wrath of Anubis escape room, which they enjoyed. Just off the arcade is the entrance to the indoor waterpark as well as the outdoor waterpark. Just before the doors to the outdoor waterpark is a cafe and cafeteria style seating. We noticed a children's play area over there as well.
Indoor WaterparkThe indoor waterpark is such a blast, and just like the arcade, there is something for everyone. Our 3 year old had a blast in Coral Cove, Splashdown Safari, Tiko's Watering Hole and the wave pool while his brothers rode all of the other thrill slides. There are restaurants in the waterpark, as well as a bar. It's very clean and there are lifeguards, security and staff everywhere to make sure anyone who needs assistance is taken care of quickly. It's a balmy 84 degrees in the park, so getting in the water feels refreshing. It's bright and the colors are cheerful, so you almost forget you are indoors. I loved that the ceiling above the wave pool was glass and I can only imagine how beautiful it looks when it's snowing or even during a thunderstorm. The waterpark is open late and the larger waterslides that sweep you outdoors and back into the building are lit up. It's also less busy at night, which is a great time to go on more slides without the wait.
Spa KalahariNaturally, I made time for the spa. While my kids and husband looked forward to the waterpark and arcade, I most looked forward to relaxation and some self-care. When you check into your hotel room there will be a pamphlet with coupons to use throughout the resort. Definitely take advantage of the one for the spa. I booked a Deep Tissue Massage with Steve and enjoyed pure bliss of all the tension in my shoulders and upper back melting away. I highly recommend him when booking your treatment! He's very knowledgeable and really pays attention to what you need in order to walk away feeling completely restored. With your spa treatment you also get access to the Quiet Zone and Hydro Escape. The Quiet Zone is relaxing with salt lamps aglow, a mesmerizing fire place and posh seating. In the Hydro Escape there is a herbal infused steam room, dry Redwood sauna, multi-sensory experiential shower, spacious jaccuzzi that looks more like your own personalized pool, an outdoor patio with lounge seating and an indoor relaxation sanctuary. Most of it is co-ed, which I am not really a fan of, but everyone is different in their preferences. Spa Kalahari also has their Halotherapy room you can enjoy as its own treatment for 45 minutes for $40, or if you choose it as an add-on to an already booked treatment, it is only $20. I really enjoyed my time in the spa and cannot wait to go back.
Tips & Advice
- Book your stay for a weekday. There are less people and shorter lines.
- Plan to stay more than 1 night. There is so much to see and do at Kalahari, one day/night is not enough. We stayed only 1 night and didn't get the chance to see/do everything they have to offer.
- Know restaurant hours in advance to plan when to eat. Restaurants open and close depending on occupancy. For example, The Great Karoo was closed for dinner the night we arrived, but was open for breakfast the next day. Ivory Coast and B-Lux close at 11am and then re-open at 12pm.
- Take advantage of Kalahari's coupons. You'll find these in your room for the spa, Marrakesh Market, etc.
- Plan your arcade budget in advance. The arcade has so much to do, but it is definitely an expense and if not planned for, you will spend more than you wanted to.
- Have a meeting place/time. Just like any bustling city, it's easy for your kids to lose track of you. In the waterpark we gave the kids a time and place to meet back up and check in. We allowed the older boys to have fun in the arcade without us at times, but asked that they sent a text to check in.
- Relax and have fun! This is such a great way to get the kids off of their electronics and to experience in-person fun with some real life face time. These are the memories that will last!