I highly recommend staying at one of the Hershey hotels- either the Hotel Hershey or the Hershey Lodge. I know it is more expensive, but I truly feel like you get the full 'park experience' if you stay at one of the park's hotels as opposed to its competitors. Other benefits of staying at one of the Hershey hotels include:
-shuttles to/from the Hershey properties (that means no paying for parking! Woot! And the shuttles drop you right at the entrance to the park)
-discounted park tickets (we've found that the hotels' discounts trump any coupons we can find)
-packages that include free breakfasts and/or tickets (you can choose from a variety of packages)
-sometimes even free admission to Hershey Gardens and the Hershey Story Museum (depending on when/where you stay)
-Hershey characters walk around at various times for photo ops with guests.
-Both Hershey properties have beautiful pools (see more below)
-cabanas at Hershey Park Boardwalk are available exclusively to property guests (if you are willing to shell out the buck$$ for them!).
The Hershey Lodge
I stayed at The Hershey Lodge when I was a kid in the 1970's, but things are very different there now. I remember the Lodge out in an open field with a large lake and sprawling land. The lake, Swan Lake, is still there, but there is a lot built up around it, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers and office buildings. If you're thinking it's going to look like a log cabin or a ski lodge, think again. It's more along the lines of motor lodge, with some of the rooms actually at parking lot level.
The lobby has a bit of a lodge feel to it with a stone fireplace and leather chairs, but that's about all I can say as far as 'lodginess.' Check-in was super fast and friendly. They presented us each with a milk chocolate Hershey bar. I was disappointed that the advertised Kids' Check-in Desk was not going to be open till 5pm.
The Rooms at The Lodge
The rooms are situated in buildings named after Hershey candies: Reeses, Peppermint Patty, Kisses, etc. Each building has a letter. We stayed in the I- Reeses building adjacent to the mini golf course and small outdoor pool.
Here is what I noted about our room and stay in general:
-If you want to get from place to place, it feels like you have to do a lot of walking from building to building. If you're walking outside, you are walking through parking lots.
-Not exceptionally pretty, but well kept grounds.
-Some of the hallways of the other buildings smelled a little musty, like an old basement (but ours in Reeses smelled ok). When we passed staff in the hallway, most of them did not acknowledge us or even smile, though a few did. We stopped and asked one attendant where the ice machine was and he apologetically said that he did not know, since it was his first day on the job.
-Our room was updated and clean. We only stayed one night, but I was disappointed and surprised that there was no turn down service. It was a little deflating to come back from the park and have our room still be in disarray with no new amenities added (and no Hershey Kisses on our pillows- boo!). Was this an oversight or do they really not offer turn-down service? I don't know.
-For whatever reason, it was very noisy at night, at least until 11:00pm. There was a lot of banging in the walls which I can't place (staff closets nearby? Clunking of doors within rooms? Not sure) and my husband snored ALL NIGHT LONG (but this is no fault of the Lodge. Ha!).
Dining at the Hershey Lodge
Friends have told me that the food at The Hershey Lodge is more 'kid friendly' as opposed to the Hotel Hershey. This is sort of true. The restaurants at the Hotel Hershey are semi-fancy, but they do cater to kids (offering kid menus, coloring pages, crayons, kid cups, etc.). There seem to be more casual dining options at the Lodge (i.e., you feel comfortable walking into them in shorts and a t-shirt, while the Hotel Hershey restaurants are a tad more upscale). There is a coffee shop called The Cocoa Beanery that offers coffee and some quick breakfasts and sandwiches. There is the Hershey Grill and The Forebay, both of which we skipped because we came upon the other restaurants first. There is Lebbie Lebkicher's named after Milton Hershey's childhood friend, which served a breakfast buffet. There is The Bear's Den, which we ate dinner at. It's kind of like a sports bar named after the Hershey Bears hockey team. The food was pretty good here, with kid-friendly choices like hot dogs, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese.
Lebbie Lebkicher's breakfast was good, but not terribly inexpensive. The dining room had no character whatsoever. It was just a big room akin to a dining area in a Holiday Inn. I think Lebbie himself might have been a little disappointed. I was also a little sad that they did not offer the Hershey Kiss shaped waffles that the Hotel Hershey does. That was a bummer. For a few bucks more, I think the Hotel Hershey's breakfast buffet at the Circular has them beat. Sorry, Lebbie.
We did not eat at the other restaurants at The Lodge so I can't attest to them. If you have any input about them, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below.
Activities at The Hershey Lodge
Much like The Hotel Hershey, there's plenty to do here if you have kids. They go out of their way to entertain the young ones, with s'mores roasting, chocolate bingo, and the kids' check-in (which we did visit after 5pm). They gave our son a lanyard with his name on it, let him sign the guest book, grab a piece of free chocolate, and take a guess at the candy jar giveaway (see what I mean about getting a full 'park experience?').
There's a Wii room (which we did not use, just peeked in), a game room and mini golf, all free with your room stay. We did play mini golf, and it was a well-kept, cute little course.
But something made me feel that some of the buildings needed renovation. The Wii building was small and looked a little old to me inside, as did the game room. I suppose this is not something that would bother kids at all, so you have to decide what matters to you as a family. There are basketball courts, shuffleboard courts and tennis available, too. You can also check out their fitness center.
There are plenty of excursions and activities for purchase (just like the Hershey Hotel). From Segway tours to Falconry experiences. You can find a link to all of their recreation options here.
NOTE ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES AT HERSHEY LODGE: It is worth mentioning that many of the activities at the Lodge are FREE as opposed to the Hotel Hershey. The Hotel Hershey charges a small fee for use of their putting green and the Lodge does not. There is a free playground at the Lodge while you can only use the playground at the Hershey Hotel as part of the paid Cocoa Kids Club care center.
Oh, another neat tidbit is that you can see the Hershey Kiss factory from the mini golf course. We spotted the Hershey Kiss Mobile parked outside. So cool!
Pools at The Hershey Lodge
-There are two outdoor pools and one indoor pool.
-The outdoor pool next to the mini golf course was small but looked clean. However, it also appeared to be closed. When we inquired about it at the mini golf stand the girl working there said, 'No, it's open. Is it closed? It's not supposed to be closed. Is there a lifeguard there? We can call someone if you want to use it and they can come down.' That all seems well and good, but it was just odd to me that the pool was locked and closed when it was supposed to be open?
-The larger outdoor pool nearby is connected to the indoor pool, which is kind of neat. The indoor pool has doors that open to the outdoor patio (sort of like a giant garage door) so you can actually go back and forth between the two. The kids seemed to love this, going back and forth between the pools.
AND PLEASE NOTE! The Hershey Lodge has been working hard on a new indoor/outdoor pool complex for its guests. Opened in May of 2016, Hershey's Water Works at Hershey Lodge features a giant Twizzlers slide and Reese's Water Walk for kids! Read all about it on their website.
|Photo from Hershey Lodge Facebook page|
Here are some pics of the Lodge's outdoor pool before they added Hershey Water Works and the new play areas:
There was a small playground right next to the pool in a shaded area. But if your kid gets cranky like mine, you might get this instead of a kid who wants to play:
You can order food at these outdoor/indoor pools at Ripples which, again, is in need of renovation. It was cute but reminded me of something at a gym or YMCA, with painted cinder block walls, and expensive, mediocre food. I had pretzels with cheese which was just 'meh' for the price. There was no outdoor waitress to take my order but the server inside did bring my pretzels out to me when they were ready.
Transportation Shuttles from The Hershey Lodge
-Guests of the Lodge can take a complimentary shuttle to and from Hershey Park and Chocolate World. If you want to go to Hershey Gardens or the Hershey Hotel, you have to pick up another shuttle once you get to the park. At the Hotel Hershey, the shuttles go directly to the Gardens and the park with no transfer shuttles needed.
-The shuttles arrived and departed quickly, and the drivers were super friendly. They even offered up some Hershey trivia during the drive. Buses were clean, comfy and air conditioned.
-The drive from The Lodge to the park (and vice versa) is significantly longer than it is from the Hotel Hershey. It took us a little over ten minutes to get to the park in the morning from The Hershey Lodge, but the return ride took about 15 minutes or a little more. The Hotel Hershey is a lot closer to the parks so you can get in/out a little quicker. The Hotel Hershey is also right across from Hershey Gardens, so you don't have to change any shuttles, and you can even walk to the Gardens if you desired.
- The shuttle drops you off right at the entrance to Hershey Park. You can't beat that! The park and Chocolate World are right across from each other, so you can walk to either quite easily and quickly. The shuttles run consistently throughout the day, as well as at night so you never have to worry about being left behind. That is one of the biggest perks about staying at the Hershey Hotels. Off-season, the shuttle service varies, so be sure to ask ahead if you'll be staying off-season.
Be sure to check out part 2 of my blog review, where I compare the Lodge to the Hotel Hershey. Which one is better? Which one is worth the price? Read Part 2 to find out!