Our family vacations plans for this summer have sort of been up in the air. Normally, we do two family vacations each summer- one with my family, and one with my husband's family. This summer, however, my family is taking a trip up north to visit extended family in NJ, and my hubby's family couldn't get a big family trip to work out, due to everyone's busy schedules. I knew that we'd be missing splashing and playing in the water without a family beach trip, which is the norm for us. I was ready to take matters into my own hands, and plan a quick getaway for my husband, son, and myself, and this time, we'd be no where near the ocean, but we'd have plenty of splash and play opportunities.
*A 3-Part Day Trips & Destinations Series
on Mommy's Block Party*
You may have noticed that I posted a couple of quick teaser posts last week, from the beautiful Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel & WaterPark Resort. I wanted to give a little glimpse of what it was like while we were actually there, experiencing the wonderful resort in the mountains. Wilderness at the Smokies is a family friendly resort, located in Sevierville, TN, just minutes from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We were invited to head to the waterpark resort for a stay and play experience, and we were thrilled for the opportunity! Sevierville is only about four hours from where we live, so it seemed like a sensible, and doable getaway for a mini vacation. Our journey began late on a Sunday morning. We left Salisbury close to 11 am, drove 2.5 hours to beautiful Asheville, NC, where we stopped for lunch, and then continued on to Sevierville.
Wilderness at the Smokies is a beautiful resort, nestled in the Great Smokey Mountains. It is home to not one, but three waterparks- one indoors, and two outdoors. Along with the waterparks, are three lodging areas, a wildly fun indoor adventure park and arcade, on site restaurants, a free shuttle service between lodges and waterparks, cafes, shoppes, and more! It's everything you need for a family vacation, without ever having to leave the resort grounds!
Almost there... a beautiful mountain drive the whole way there!
As we approached the waterpark, we noticed this beast on the side of the resort, from the highway...
Once B saw all of the waterslides whirling and twirling together, he could hardly contain his excitement!
As we drove up to the resort, we got a pretty good glimpse of things from the highway. The resort itself looked lovely, with an overall lodge feel to it. We arrived right around check-in time, which was 4 pm. It was very busy, and quite crowded. Our reservation was under my name, so hubby dropped me off, and then went to look for a place to park.
Here's the welcome sign!
Here's the drop off/loading/check-in drive thru area at Wilderness at the Smokies.
When I walked into the lobby, I was met by so many things to see. Right head of me, was a large staircase that split, and went upstairs to the first level of the hotel. Directly to my right, was a check-in desk specifically for Wyndham hotel guests, and check-in for Wilderness at the Smokies guests was to the left. Like I said, it was super busy, and the check-in line was very long. I waited for about twenty minutes before there was an available space at the check-in desk for me. There were about six customer service folks working behind the desk, checking folks in, and they all seemed very friendly, and were working as quickly as they could. Some of the folks in line ahead of me didn't have reservations, which was fine, because Wilderness at the Smokies advertises that they have rooms available from their big sign at the highway turn off.
When I did get my turn to check-in, it was pretty painless. The gal who helped me was very nice, and she explained everything I needed to know, from where to park and to hang the parking tag in our car, to how to use the energy efficiency card in our room, to where the waterparks were located. She handed my a big packet with brochures, a map of Wilderness at the Smokies, our wrist bands for the waterparks, room keys, towel cards, and our room info inside. She quickly went over what everything was, and then I was good to go, and off to find Sacha and B, so we could get checked into our room!
Lobby view at Wilderness of the Smokies...
Large check-in area in the lobby for WATS guests...
As I walked to the car, I took notice of how beautiful the resort grounds were. Everything was so lush and green, and there were flowers planted here and there, making it such a nice little home away from home for a couple of days. I really got a sense of how big Wilderness at the Smokies is, as I walked around the building, making my way to the car. The hotel is huge!
I appreciated the directional signs around the hotel/resort campus...
Here's a view of the lodge/hotel from the parking lot.
We were very excited to get to our room, and check it out. There were luggage carts in the lobby, so I stayed at the car with B, while Sacha went to fetch one for us. We loaded everything up onto the cart, and made our way through the lobby to the closest elevator. Our room was on the third floor, and B was excited to push the elevator button for us. When we reached the third floor, we turned a corner, and made our way down a very, very long hallway. I thought the hallways was nicely decorated, and very well-lit. We found our room quickly, and easily, and used our key card for entry.
Heading down the long hallway to our room...
Everything we needed for our stay was in this packet, given to us upon check-in.
We stayed in a Family Studio Suite, which was pretty much a basic room, which can accommodate up to five people for sleeping. The room was nicely decorated, and really had everything we needed to live as comfortably as we do in our own house. The room was nicely carpeted, had a large balcony with sliding glass doors, giving us a lovely view, and was stocked with everything we would need for our stay, and pretty much everything you might expect a standard hotel room to include, and then some.
Luggage area by the front door, with extra pillows, blankets, coat rack, and safe above it.
Lovely vanity area outside of the bathroom, with hair dryer, etc.
Impressive mini kitchen area...
Perhaps the best thing of all- coffee maker in the room!
I have to say that the little kitchen area was pleasantly surprising to me. I did expect there to be a mini fridge, as was glad to have one! Any parents travelling with little ones who still drink milk, take bottles, etc, really need a room with a 'fridge when they travel, so this was a huge plus for our milk-guzzling son. The tiny kitchen also had a small microwave, a small sink, coffee maker with complimentary coffee, and a small cook-top! I thought it was so cool to have a tiny cook-top, right in the room! There were also cabinets above the counter, which was wonderful, because we always travel with snacks, and such. This gave us a place to store them during our visit.
Two queen size beds, dressed in white linens, and complete with real down comforters!
There was also a small love seat sleeper sofa in our room, which for us, was great for lounging as we had a snack break, or if we just wanted to chill out before bedtime.
The small table and two chairs was a great spot for morning coffee, or to sit and eat a quick meal. We used this area for charging our devices, and this is where I set up my laptop, because mama never really gets a day off from blogging/working.
I did not take photos of the bathroom, but I can tell you that it was very nice. B loved the tub, and happily took showers, though I know he would have loved to have a bath in that big tub. That bathroom was fully stocked with extra shampoo, soap, and fresh towels and washcloths that weren't paper-thin! Thanks so much for giving us real towels, WATS!
Here I am, testing out the cozy bed, and giving my grand 'Here we are' wave...
...and B, excitedly showing off the awesome balcony off of our room.
Before we ventured back out of the room, I had to call the front desk, and ask about how to work the air conditioning. We turned it on, but it seemed like nothing was happening. Wilderness at the Smokies does something really smart on their part. By your room door, there is a light switch, with a key card slot built into it. We were given an extra room key, which we were instructed to slide into the key slot, and leave there. As long as they key stays in the slot, the air in the room stays on. If the key is removed, it shuts off. This is to conserve energy, and we thought it was a really neat and smart idea. The person I spoke with at the front desk was very helpful, by the way.
After we got that straightened out, it was time for us to hop back into the car. We planned to drive to Maryville, TN, about 30 minutes from WATS, to visit Sacha's grandparents, and have dinner with them. We see them maybe once a year, and since they were so close, we couldn't not visit them on this trip. Since we knew we wouldn't get to experience the waterparks that first night in the hotel, we decided to walk around before heading out, to take a look around and see what we'd be getting into the next morning.
We found the Thirsty Miner, on-site restaurant, which smelled so good!
Next to the Thirsty Miner was a gift shop, filled with all sorts of WATS gear and gifts!
We found the cafe, located right near the lobby. Look at some of those yummy chocolates!
The cafe became an important place to know about, as this is where you could grab a quick breakfast or coffee, a sandwich for lunch, donuts, sodas and snacks, or candy... and more candy.
Also near the lobby, a gift shop, with some pretty neat little things in it!
We really didn't want to have to leave the resort that first afternoon/evening, but making time to see family is so important to us, and we really wanted to be able to see Sacha's grandparents. B was a little bit bummed out that we arrived, checked in, and then turned around and went somewhere else, but we promised him that two jam-packed days at the waterparks were ahead.
Here's a view of the lodge/hotel from the parking lot, as we were leaving that first evening.
We had a nice visit with Sacha's grandparents, and didn't arrive back at WATS until 10 pm or so later that evening. B was still awake when we got back, and couldn't wait to get back to his room. He was so tired from the trip and excitement of the day, that he refused to change out of his t-shirt. He crawled into one of the beds and told us that he was going to sleep in it by himself, and that we were to sleep in the other bed. He kissed us goodnight, turned over, and the kid conked out! He slept all night, and so did we, which was a good thing... we were going to need our rest for the next fun-filled day at Wilderness at the Smokies, and I couldn't wait to hit the waterparks!
B, totally exhausted, enjoying the super comfy bed in our room.
I can't wait to share about our second day at Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel and Waterpark Resort in TN. Stay tuned for lots more photos and to read more about our family's wonderful experience!
Want to Visit Wilderness at the Smokies?
Want more info about Wilderness at the Smokies, or ready to book your own trip? Head on over to Wilderness at the Smokies and take a look around their website! It's filled with beautiful photos, and lots of info on how to plan a trip for your family. You can also connect with Wilderness at the Smokies through Facebook and Twitter, and check out their YouTube channel, too!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our fun little trip, coming up next Friday!
Disclosure: I was provided a media rate for visiting Wilderness at the Smokies with my family. Our trip was not free, and I am in no way obligated to review or share our experience. We had a fab time, and I wanted to share about it with the MBP community, so you'll know of this hidden gem in the Smokies, and how wonderful a place it really is. I would highly recommend considering WATS for your next family vacation.