Last month, I wondered What Is So Special About a Hotel Pool? I concluded that even though my kids have access to some pretty great neighborhood pools and our city rec center with an indoor/outdoor water park, they would still get a kick out of a night at a local resort.
Since my husband had been earning Marriott points all year from his work travel, we decided to book a one-night staycation at the Gaylord Texan Resort (which is part of the Marriott brand). I had already researched the resort and its outdoor water park, Paradise Springs, and determined it was one of my top 5 choices for a local DFW staycation.
We arrived around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Although the lobby was busy, we didn’t have to wait long to check in. The front desk associate gave us a map of the resort as well as a brochure with all of the summer activities.
We were already dressed for the water park in anticipation that we would not be able to access our room before the 4:00 p.m. check-in time. But, to our surprise, our room was ready, so we headed there to drop off our luggage.
This resort is in-your-face Texas. The view after we exited the elevator on the 7th floor:
Our room had two queen beds and plenty of room to sleep our “extra” third child on a blow-up mattress on the floor. At check-in, we were offered a room with a balcony for an extra $60, but we declined.
The bathroom was quite large, with a separate vanity area and a closed-off bathroom behind it.
We didn’t waste too much time checking out our room. The kids wanted to get to the water park, stat!
We headed downstairs to the Tour Lobby to catch the resort’s shuttle to Paradise Springs.
The water park was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. However, we were still able to find some available lounge chairs by the lazy river.
Ah yes, the lazy river. We could have stayed in there all day! It has many sections with waterfalls and sprays that you can enjoy (or avoid) to cool off.
Eventually, we made it over to the big activity pool. It has two horseshoe-shaped whirpools:
The zip line is located at the back of the activity pool. My husband and sons really enjoyed this!
There is also a large slide that empties into the pool:
And four water basketball hoops:
On the other side of Paradise Springs is this big interactive water playground.
Watch out for the big bucket drench that happens every few minutes!
A section for toddlers and younger kids is located to the left of the play structure, and there are three twisty water slides in the back.
The atmosphere at Paradise Springs on a Saturday afternoon is definitely festive. There was a DJ spinning tunes plus a lot of free activities like hula hooping and water balloon fights.
We returned to Paradise Springs on Sunday morning to spend a few more hours there before we drove back home. It was so much less crowded! Since we got there right at opening, we had our pick of lounge chairs. I highly recommend getting these chairs that sit on the lazy river’s edge, partly submerged in water:
What I really liked about Paradise Springs is that it caters to all ages. It has a splash section for toddlers as well as several zero-entry spots and shallow water areas for younger children. But at the same time, the other features (especially the zip line and lazy river) make it a really fun place for older kids, teens and adults, too.
With cash rates in the low $200 range for some nights, this resort makes for a more affordable water park staycation in the summer compared to typical summer rates at Great Wolf Lodge.
It’s hard not to walk around and marvel at the attractions in the two atriums of the Gaylord Texan Resort. We spent some time on both Saturday and Sunday just walking around enjoying the sites.
Our eyes are immediately drawn to the Alamo replica at the back of the main atrium.
We also walked the path by the Riverwalk.
My kids couldn’t resist climbing on these giant boots!
We saw several model train scenes throughout the resort.
The resort offers a free guide to the atrium’s artwork, or you can pay an extra $10 for Hank’s Outlaw Scavenger Hunt map.
We decided to leave the resort on Saturday night to grab some dinner at Esparza’s Mexican restaurant in Grapevine. This is one of those places where the servers make fresh guacamole at your table. So yummy! I highly recommend Esparza’s.
When we got back to the hotel, the Saturday night “Party in the USA—Glow Party” had already started in the atrium. A DJ was playing dance tunes, and many kids were dancing on the floor and on two stages. My younger kids finally overcame their shyness, and once they started dancing it was hard to get them to stop!
The crowd was waiting for the 8:00 p.m. Legends of the Lone Star Wild West Show. Unfortunately, the show was canceled at the last minute, but the characters still posed for photos. We loved this “Golden Cowboy”, who pretended to be a statue to trick people.
After we had enough dancing and photos, we decided to check out the hotel’s pool. Yes, there is a regular pool behind the hotel that is not part of Paradise Springs water park. It has beautiful waterfalls and warm water:
The hot tub lights changed colors every few seconds:
We could have stayed here until midnight, but we made our kids leave at 10:00 to go to bed. We had an exhausting yet fun day!
Resort Staycation vs. Day Trip to Local Water Park
Some of you may be wondering if it’s worth it to spend cash or points on a staycation at a resort like this that has a water park. After all, the DFW area has so many good water parks that offer lazy rivers and water slides galore. Why wouldn’t we just take a day trip to a water park instead and sleep at home?
My family does visit local water parks, and we always have a great time. However, the mindset before, during and after these day trips is totally different from an overnight at a resort. We’re in more of a vacation mode at a resort because we know that we’re not returning to our house immediately after the water park. During a resort stay, we still have a family “sleepover” and hotel entertainment to anticipate.
Of course, we are not going to book a local resort staycation every time. We will still frequent our neighborhood pool, city rec center and other local water parks over the summer. But, staying overnight at a resort (especially when it’s almost free using points!) is a treat that I’d like to repeat next summer.
Using Points to Stay at Gaylord Texan Resort
Gaylord Texan Resort costs 35,000 Marriott points per night. If you have Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points, you can transfer them to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio.
If you don’t have any Marriott or SPG points, you can earn some through credit card bonuses. Check out the Marriott Premier Visa by Chase and the Starwood Preferred Guest card by American Express on our Hot Deals page for more information.
Note: Even though we used points to pay for our stay at the Gaylord Texan Resort, we still had to pay the $20 resort fee and $22 for overnight parking.
Have you stayed at the Gaylord Texan Resort over the summer to experience Paradise Springs? What is your favorite local staycation resort?
All opinions are my own. I received no compensation from Marriott or Gaylord Texan Resort for my review.
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.