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This post was written by Nancy, who is a regular contributor. She also runs a blog Savingforadream and has an awesome YouTube channel. On Monday I published a post on Florida beach hotels and mentioned that this particular area is my home turf. Well, Nancy has written a post that deals with her home turf: Texas. I know at least a few of my readers besides Nancy live there, so I hope ya’ll find it beneficial!
Growing up in Colorado, I didn’t swim in many pools or waterparks as a kid. Most of the houses in my neighborhood didn’t have pools, and the only time I went swimming was in hotel pools on vacation. Raising my family in Texas, however, is a completely different story.
In order to survive the summer, we rotate between the pools and the air conditioning. Swimming is a way of life here. It’s hot, hot, hot! My kids swim like little fish, and they love pools of every shape and size. They go gaga if there are extra bells and whistles added to a standard pool!
When I think of cities known for their great waterpark hotels, Wisconsin Dells and Orlando come to mind, and maybe San Antonio. However, the Dallas/Fort Worth area has recently multiplied its number of hotels that have significant waterparks, and luckily, my family doesn’t have to travel far!
Hotels with lazy rivers, waterslides and wave pools usually come with a hefty price tag. If a night at a waterpark hotel in Dallas is not in your budget, there are ways to use credit card and hotel points to offset the cost. Regardless if you’re a local thinking about a Dallas waterpark hotel staycation or if you’re traveling to Dallas from afar, check out the water features and points strategies for these hotels.
Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas
The most well-known waterpark hotel in the DFW area is Great Wolf Lodge (see TripAdvisor reviews). Since the majority of it is indoors, swimming here is not limited to just the hot summer months. We have only stayed here in the winter, but our room had a great view of the outdoor pool and ropes course area:
The wave pool at Great Wolf Lodge
I love that most of the rooms at Great Wolf Lodge fit large families. The resort is located close to Grapevine Mills Mall with family attractions like the Legoland Discovery Center and Sea Life Aquarium.
Using points: The best way to use points to stay for free at Great Wolf Lodge is to utilize a credit card with travel reimbursement benefits. The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card offers a 40,000 point bonus for new customers after spending $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening.
Points accumulate at 2X per dollar for each purchase, and the $59 annual fee is waived for the first year. The bonus of 40,000 points is worth $400 in travel expenses in the form of a purchase eraser, so even a night in peak season could be covered by this credit.
A card with similar benefits is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which also comes with 40,000 bonus points after spending $3000 in the first 90 days, and double points on all purchases. The $89 fee is waived for the first year. You can see more details on both cards here. Update the bonus on this card is now 50,000 points.
Make sure to utilize any and all discounts available (AAA rate, hotel specials) to get the lowest possible rate. Great Wolf Lodge also occasionally has Groupon rates, but note that the Groupon charge would not count as a travel expense for the Capital One and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
Jellystone in Burleson, Texas
Jellystone isn’t technically a hotel, it’s a campground. However, its cabins are so luxurious that they beat many hotel rooms where we have stayed. Jellystone gives you the option to camp with your own tent or RV or rent one of the campground’s RVs and cabins. And the best part—it has a huge waterpark attached!
Two Queen Beds
Bunk Beds and a Kitchenette
This summer, the waterpark expanded with more slides and a huge zero-entry pool area. There are even cabins with a waterfront view! Check it out: http://www.campersview.com/waterpark/
In addition to the waterpark, Jellystone has many other activities for families including visits with the Yogi Bear characters, fire engine rides, laser tag, paintball and fishing.
Using points: Your best bet for using points to pay for a stay at Jellystone is the same strategy as Great Wolf Lodge: Capital One Venture or Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas
The Gaylord Texan is well-known for its winter activities. In November and December, it boasts a themed ice sculpture display as well as indoor sledding and snowball fights. However, it also competes as a summer destination with its outdoor waterpark, Paradise Springs.
The hotel just opened a $5 million dollar expansion to its waterpark this summer along with activities inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Look at these photos! Lazy river, slides, zip line over the pool…oh my!
Note that wristbands are required for the waterpark. A standard hotel room receives four wristbands and a suite receives up to six. On the resort website, it states that up to two additional wristbands may be purchased for $35 each. As a family of five with one “extra” kid, I appreciate this policy. Paying an extra $35 is certainly much better than paying for a suite or an entire extra room, or being denied entry for one member of our family.
Using points: The Gaylord is part of the Marriott hotel brand. It is a Category 7 property and costs 35,000 points per night. The Marriott Rewards Premier credit card currently has an 87,500-point bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months and adding an authorized user. The $89 annual fee is not waived the first year. The sign-up bonus alone would provide two nights at the Gaylord, with some points leftover. See more details on this offer here
I haven’t stayed at the Gaylord during the summer, but it’s now on my wish list. My husband has started to accumulate some Marriott points through his work travel, so I am seriously considering this hotel for a staycation on points next summer!
Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas
The Hilton Anatole is known for its extensive art collection (the largest at a hotel in the US) and its winter festivities. It has never crossed my radar as a staycation hotel until now. The hotel just opened a $20 million onsite waterpark called JadeWaters. The water complex features a 4,000 square feet leisure pool, a kids activity pool, lazy river and waterslides. Swim-up bar and cabanas? Yes, please!
The hotel has a similar wristband policy as the Gaylord, but an extra wristband only costs $25 per person. Not too shabby! Check out photos of the pool area here. This hotel is located very close to downtown Dallas, which brings a whole new area to explore if you can drag your kids (of yourself!) out of the waterpark. The Sixth Floor Museum, Perot Museum and Dallas World Aquarium are all nearby.
Using points: A standard room at the Hilton Anatole costs 30,000 HHonors points per night or 12,000 points + $50. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa currently offers 75,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months with no annual fee. See more details here
Another option is the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, which offers two free weekend nights after making $2,500 in purchases during the first four months with a $95 annual fee. I personally would save the two free nights from this credit card for a Hilton hotel with a higher cost, and use either cash or HHonors points from one of the other credit cards to pay for this hotel.
Note: All of the credit cards listed are available in the “Support the Site” link at the top of the blog.
More Waterpark Hotels?
If those aren’t enough options, there is a new waterpark hotel coming to the DFW area. Stand Rock Hospitality out of Wisconsin Dells just announced a new $330 million waterpark hotel coming to Grapevine. There is also currently a proposal to add an upscale hotel with a lazy river about a mile from my house. Oh, the possibilities!
Although the summer is coming to an end, there is still plenty of time to plan your credit card strategy to stay for free at one or more of these waterpark hotels in the winter or next summer. Before you book, make sure to check the seasonal hours of the waterpark.
Have you stayed or are you planning to stay in any of these DFW waterpark hotels?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.