Camelback Resort, PA
Family Friendly?: Off the charts
Age Range: All Ages
Restrictions: Must be a guest of the hotel to use the waterpark
Recommendations: Something for everyone. If your family likes water activities, this is made for you!
We recently had the opportunity to enjoy a night at the brand new Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Waterpark. Let me say right up front that we were blown away!
The new lodge looks a bit outsized for it’s surroundings, but the architecture fits the environment very well using natural colors and materials. It might be big, but it works. The covered entry area is huge with plenty of room to unload in wet weather.
The first impression you get when walking through the front doors is wow! The whole place has a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe and it works. Instead of a big check-in desk, the first thing you see is a collection of travel relics that help set the scene. However, the giant waterpark quickly pulls your attention to the left and I doubt if anyone can resist walking over to take a look. In addition, the lobby features a small bar area with a great view of the waterpark, a restaurant, coffee shop and a large gift shop. The actual check-in desk is sort of tucked away to the right of the main doors and is not obvious at first.
One thing you will notice right away is that the staff seems to be really psyched to be there. Maybe it’s just because the thrill hasn’t worn off yet, but we got the impression that they were genuinely happy to see us. Now you might get some sticker shock when you see your bill – this place isn’t cheap. However, when you figure in all that you get it is a surprisingly good value. They have a wide range of room styles and rate specials so it would be pointless to discuss specific rates here. Look around a bit on line and I am sure you will find something that works for you.
Even though we opted for one of the smaller double queen rooms it was far from small. The room had two comfortable queen beds, a sofa, a “breakfast bar” type area and a nice bathroom. Everything was sparkling clean and nicely decorated. The only negative was that the wi-fi was sketchy at best in the room but it was only a minor inconvenience.
After settling in, we went directly to the Aquatopia Waterpark. Once again – wow. This thing is huge. There was plenty of seating during our visit so it was easy to set up camp and start having fun. The temperature in the enclosure was quite comfortable but I can’t imagine what it will cost to heat it in the middle of the winter! The selection of activities is impressive. There is a fairly large wave pool that dominates the view but the water slides are the main attraction. They have everything from mild to wild – just about everyone will find something of interest here if waterparks are your thing. Our favorites were the Storm Chaser water coaster with it’s up (yes up) and down flume and the Skydive Plummet with a thrilling initial drop and a unique sort of off kilter “loop”. The Flowrider was fun, but has a very low capacity so it was the only place that we got impatient with the wait. They also have an adult swim-up bar. I have never understood the fascination with swim-up bars, but others seemed to like it so I thought I would mention it. We very happily spent four solid hours in the waterpark and had a blast. It was so much fun that we went back for more after dinner and stayed until they closed it down. We were all exhausted but happy!
I can’t really comment on the food quality much because we took advantage of the fridge and microwave in the room. However, the baked goods at the coffee shop were very good and a quick slice of pizza at the waterpark snack bar was adequate for our needs. The restaurant off the lobby looked like a high volume kind of place, but I didn’t hear any complaints.
Even though the waterpark dominates the facility, they do have other activities to keep you busy. There is a ropes course type thing and a climbing wall right outside the waterpark. It is not very challenging, but kids love it because you are always attached to a track mechanism that allows you to explore at will. A nice diversion. The Camelbeach waterpark is just up the road but somehow we never found time to venture outside the lodge. We explored the hotel just a bit and discovered some impressive banquet rooms with high ceilings, glass walls (with beautiful mountain views) and one of the biggest stone fireplaces I have ever seen. Curiously, they are not on the ground floor as most large spaces usually are. There is also an arcade one level down from the lobby but that isn’t our cup of tea so we only quickly walked through and didn’t look back.
Overall I can give Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia a big thumbs up. Considering the quality of the lodging and the variety of activities, the initially salty price actually becomes very reasonable. The other guests appeared to be about 90% families and everyone we met was having a great time. As with other mega-hotel/waterpark facilities, you must be a hotel guest to use the waterpark. That is OK by me. Even though the parking lot looked pretty full, the facility never felt crowded. It had a private club feel that added to the experience. It is so big that it seems to absorb the crowds and noise. In the winter, the combination of skiing and the Camelback Lodge/Waterpark should offer a western mega-resort experience at a fraction of the cost.
Camelback Lodge is located just a few minutes off I-80 near Tannersville, PA in the Pocono Mountains. We found the directional signage to be lacking a bit once you got off the highway so keep your eyes open. The way is not intuitive as you must pass under I-80 twice to get there. Maybe that has been addressed since our visit.
Please visit www.camelbackresort.com for more information about all that Camelback offers.