Families and couples will love the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg with it’s excellent restaurant, indoor waterpark, spa, and proximity to the Smokies.
Kristina was invited to take her kids for a few days to explore all the resort has to offer. Thank you to the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort for hosting us and exceptional hospitality.
Our Review of Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort
The Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg is part of the Westgate Resort family, which has properties in Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach, and several other popular locations.
They are top-notch resorts that have plenty of entertainment for both families and couples who want to relax and have fun. They also take great pride in providing excellent dining, spa amenities, and family-friendly activities and events to guests.
You Don’t Have to Leave the Resort to Have Fun
We were thrilled to stay at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg, just outside of the main drag and less than ten minutes from both Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. But really, if you wanted to just drive there, park your car, and enjoy the resort amenities without ever getting back in your car until it was time to go home, you could absolutely do that.
The resort has enough things to do to keep your entire family entertained easily for a weekend or more without ever leaving the property.
The Westgate Smokies is enormous and if you don’t have a room on the base level where the indoor waterpark and restaurant is located, you’ll be up the mountain with amazing views of downtown Gatlinburg and the majestic Smokies right outside your doorstep.
And the views are just breathtaking. The resort looks over to Anakeesta, the mountaintop village that we’ve often written about and just love, which is framed by Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and Mt. LeConte, which is nearly as high.
We could even see the snow-covered peak of Clingmans Dome! The clouds roll in and out of the mountains, creating those postcard-perfect photos that you can’t even believe exist in real life.
Shuttles & a Trolley are Available
Because the resort is so large, they have constant shuttles running to get you where you want to go and will even pick you up if you start walking back and forth to your room. The staff is very friendly and eager to please.
If you feel the need to leave the resort, you can jump on the Gatlinburg trolley, which has a stop right at the resort entrance. That will take you into town for a minimal fee.
How much does it cost to book a room?
The Westgate Smokies offers studio rooms up to five bedroom villas. Prices vary according to room type and season. As of this writing, a studio in January ran about $105/night and a one-bedroom was $130/night. In April, those same rooms are currently going for $185 and $200, respectively. July and October are typically the busiest and more costly seasons.
If you’re looking to visit, be sure to go to the Gatlinburg hotel deals, as they actually have more than one resort in the area.
Wild Bear Falls Water Park
Please note: The Wild Bear Falls Water Park will be closed for maintenance January 17, 2022 – February 10, 2022.
For families, the main draw of the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort is the indoor waterpark, Wild Bear Falls Water Park. I kept this part a secret from my kids when we went, only telling them to bring their swimsuits. It was worth it to see their utter amazement when we walked in. They were speechless, which, for kids, is quite incredible.
The waterpark is huge, more than 60,000 square feet, and is nice and warm. It looks like a giant greenhouse with a big glass ceiling and glass walls. Parents or caregivers need to be in the water with their kids so be prepared to join in on the fun.
Zero-Entry Pool and Playground
There is a zero-entry pool area with two slides that is perfect for smaller children. There is a big playground in the middle of the waterpark that pours gallons and gallons of water on kids as they slip down wet slides and play in the foot-deep pool.
Pool with Basketball Hoops Right Next to a Hot Tub
A bigger pool for older kids has basketball hoops in the center and is the deepest at four-and-a-half feet. Next to that pool is a deliciously steamy hot tub. Adults seemed to gravitate over there.
My kids loved the lazy river, which was only two-and-a-half feet deep and warm. You cruised around the park in a tube and could get out to go on one of two water slides.
Guests need to be 48 inches tall to ride the water slides. Tubes are needed for the red water slide, which is half open to the ceiling until the very end when you go through a short tunnel.
The yellow one is body-only and is totally enclosed. I preferred the red one best and my oldest went on it several times by herself.
There’s also a very warm hot tub near the water slides that opens to the outdoors, which feels really nice in the cool air.
Locker rooms are on-site with showers and there are plenty of towels available for guests to use free of charge. Paid lockers are available if you want to store your backpack with your phone or other valuables.
How Crowded was Wild Bear Falls Waterpark?
We went to the waterpark both on a weekday and weekend. It was more crowded on the weekend than on the weekday but still had plenty of space to not feel like people were close to you.
Are masks required?
All the lifeguards and employees were wearing masks and masks were required for guests everywhere but the actual waterpark area.
How much does it cost?
The waterpark is open daily 11 am – 7 pm and rates are $24.96/single day admission, $53.85/two-day admission, and $84.75/three day admission. Children three and under are free.
Are day passes available?
Even if you’re not staying at the resort, you can go and enjoy the waterpark as they offer day passes.
What is there to do at the Westgate Smokies Resort?
We (myself and two kids, ages 9 and 6) stayed at the Westgate Smokies for three nights and nearly four days and didn’t get to do half of the things the resort offers just because we ran out of time. They have that many things to do.
Outdoor Pools with Views
There are two outdoor pools, including an infinity pool at the top of the mountain. I saw that on the map and decided to check it out and am so happy we did because it was amazing. The view up there was insane and the infinity pool was perfect and warm. There’s a hot tub there as well.
Towels are provided and during the warmer months, they have a bar. It’s completely picturesque.
Right below the infinity pool is an inviting firepit that overlooks the mountains. It was quite the place to get warm after our dip in the water and I could have looked at those mountains forever.
Playground, Mini-Golf and a Zip-Line
A playground for kids is halfway up the mountain and right near one of the shuttle stops so you can stop there and play or just play while you wait for your ride. There is a mini-golf course and a zip line next to the infinity pool. Guests need to weigh at least 75 pounds for the zip line, which my youngest didn’t quite reach so we had to skip that one. Next time!
Fitness Center, Snack Bar, and Activities
A fitness center overlooks the waterpark and a snack bar also is at the same location as the waterpark. The resort also has a huge list of activities for families and their kids like archery, ornament making, survival courses, guided hikes, ghost tours, and free movie nights. Again, we just ran out of time to do any of these because we were so busy having fun doing other things there.
If I had my husband with us on this trip, I would have taken advantage of a spa treatment because how amazing does that sound, right? They have everything from massages to luxury pedicures to hot stone treatments.
Washer and Dryer
Every floor also has a free washer and dryer, which we definitely used. It was especially convenient to dry our swimsuits after going to the waterpark and pool.
Kitchens and Kitchenettes
The rooms at the resort are spacious and some of them have kitchens or kitchenettes. Whenever we travel, I always look for this feature because it saves us so much money when it comes to not having to eat out at every meal if we can make some of our food at the hotel.
Yet you may not want to cook when you try the restaurant on-site, Southern Comfort.
Southern Comfort Restaurant
Southern Comfort is a brand new restaurant at the Westgate Smokies that serves southern cuisine with a lowcountry, Cajun twist. We sampled several dishes at the restaurant and each was better than the last.
The chef at Southern Comfort used to work at the Biltmore and her food was incredible. It was flavorful with just the right amount of spice that even my kids, who aren’t into anything with spicy flavors, enjoyed it.
One of their favorite dishes was the Nashville hot chicken and biscuit that we had for breakfast one morning. I was shocked. It was like their little palettes were changing right before my eyes.
This is how I can best describe every dish we had: it was so obviously made with love. You could taste it. I don’t mean that mushy romantic love. This was a love of food, of ingredients, and a kind of pride in the dish that the chef was serving to guests.
We had everything from Egg Nog French Toast (as good as it sounds), Blackened Catfish, Pulled Pork with Sweet Potato Cakes, Southern Fried Chicken, Deviled Eggs with Spicy Pickle, Fried Green Tomatoes, Mac & Cheese, and my favorite, a Cajun Gumbo.
The kids’ meals are also tasty. My oldest daughter got a cheeseburger and fries one night and I kept stealing her curly fries when she wasn’t looking. They were perfectly crispy and salty and hot.
On our first night there, the general manager Crystal, told us about their s’mores dessert that has marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, and peanut butter cups. I had to get that the last night we were there and it didn’t disappoint. We managed not to burn the place down, which was a success.
The entire staff was so kind and helpful. They not only talked to us about the recent opening of the restaurant but also gave us some tips on places to explore in the area.
And the decor of the restaurant keeps with the whole cozy cabin theme of the resort with high ceilings, a log cabin feeling indoors with a large fireplace, and candlelit tables.
All staff wear masks and guests are required to unless they are eating or drinking. Adults are also required to do a temperature check before entering which is contactless on a neat screen (I was a tad bit fascinated with this technology).
Make a Reservation
Southern Comfort is open to both guests and the general public but definitely make a reservation if you want to enjoy a meal there. Weekends can have a long wait. Word is getting out just how delicious this place is.
There is parking on site.
Marketplace & Starbucks
Lastly, there is a marketplace and Starbucks at the resort, which is so convenient if you want to grab breakfast and coffee on the go if you’re heading to the National Park for a drive or hike. I definitely made use of those when we were there.
As already mentioned, masks are required anywhere indoors at the resort and on the shuttles. There are temperature checks for Southern Comfort and the marketplace and if you don’t have a mask, the staff will provide you one.
The resort has instituted the WestgateCARES program, which assures guests of the enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures the resort has taken to make sure touch points are frequently cleaned.
You can read more about the program at the link but in summary, the resort is taking COVID seriously and is making great efforts to keep their guests and staff as safe as possible.
Other Local Attractions in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge
Kidding Around readers know how much we love Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smokies as we have many stories on things to do in the area. Additionally, the Westgate Smokies has these 51 things to do in Gatlinburg, most of which are within a quick jaunt from the resort. Yet every time we go, we always discover something new.
Even after going to Anakeesta several times, we’ve never been during Christmastime, which was a special treat. Lights are strung so beautifully up on the mountain village and the new restaurant is now open (make reservations as the waits are long). We finally got to watch one of their outdoor movies for a bit, which my kids really enjoyed. Elf was playing and they had never seen it before and thought it was hilarious.
Ole Smoky Moonshine
I got to do a special moonshine tasting as well this trip at the state’s oldest distillery, Ole Smoky Moonshine, right in the heart of Gatlinburg. I’m not a big straight liquor drinker but it was a lot of fun learning about the history of the distillery and tasting their surprisingly delicious offerings. The White Lightening, the straight up moonshine, was quite the kicker.
The others were a lot less of a punch in your face and I loved the peanut butter chocolate one, which hardly tasted like liquor at all (could be dangerous, right?).
The distillery is America’s most visited and you can sample several moonshines for $5. The samples are thankfully tiny since the alcohol content is so high.
Their moonshine making process is open to the public and you can see how it’s made so if you happen to be homeschooling your kids, that’s a science lesson right there.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
And of course, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just minutes from the resort. I love this park for its beauty, its miles upon miles of trails, and its fascinating history. The Westgate sent us on a short hike to the Noah Oglesby cabin with a guide and it was so interesting.
The trailhead was just 15 minutes from the resort and we learned all kinds of history about the family with nine kids who lived there and farmed the area.
My kids soaked up all the information and loved learning about the environment and different things to look for on hikes like twin trees, quartz, and woodpecker restaurants, which looked like lines of holes circling trees.
Virtual Learning & Homeschooling at Westgate Smokies
For families who are homeschooling or doing virtual school, taking a trip to Westgate Smokies is ideal because there are plenty of opportunities to learn about different subjects while getting homework done online at the resort and then playing at the waterpark or enjoying other amenities offered.
It’s a nice change of scenery that could help give everyone a break while still making sure the work that needs to get done happens.
As of this writing, the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort is offering a Schoolcation package that includes a discounted rate plus up to a $100 resort credit when you book two nights. Other specials can be found here.