Junior suite rates during the low-season start online at $179; prices jump considerably for the high-season and for larger suites. A resort fee per room per night is $35.
The Kartrite is trying very hard to do it right. With four slides, seven water attractions and seemingly countless lifeguards, the 324-room Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark, which opened in Monticello, N.Y., in April, touts itself as the state’s largest indoor water park.
Yet there are many other activities and attractions (distractions?) catering to small children, big children and adults who enjoy behaving like children. Almost eclipsing the water park is an extensive arcade of new and old-school games. Jugglers on stilts wander the property, which includes a cupcake shop, and though we missed the reptile show, an albino Burmese python named Twinkie was still draped over the shoulders of my son, Sam, while we were checking out (it didn’t leave with us, thankfully).
Amid all the colorful fanfare that happily captivated our second-grader, there were obvious adult-size growing pains, including generic décor and uneven food. It did not quite live up to its billing. Marketing materials promised that the Kartrite was about “fusing the style of Manhattan with the rustic charm of the mountains.” We found little of either, much less a successful fusion.
The new resort is down a winding and tree-lined boulevard in Sullivan County, about 90 miles northwest of New York City. It is in former Borscht Belt country: this area of the Catskills was once dotted with hotels, resorts and restaurants catering to Jewish vacationers, but decades ago it fell out of fashion and into disuse. The Resorts World Casino is nearby, about a half-mile down that landscaped road, but there was little information on how guests could hike or otherwise enjoy the surrounding great outdoors. We were certainly made to think that the main attractions were inside.
We arrived a few hours before the 4 p.m. check-in (guests are allowed to hit the park early), and we were thrilled to hear that a junior-king suite would be available within 30 minutes. While it was ready in less than an hour, we had been shooed to the water park and didn’t receive the email notification until later. After a little juggling of wet towels and roller bags, we entered an immaculately clean yet bland hotel room with gray carpeting, gray-painted walls and dark-wood modern furniture. The pops of color came from bright checkered ottomans and orange and neon-green throw pillows, but it didn’t seem to be decorated with children in mind.
For anyone attempting a B.Y.O.B. after a long day of wrangling children, beware: The room did not have a corkscrew or a bottle opener, and when we called down for the latter, we were told to take our adult beverages to one of the bars for opening. No one wants to do that.
The bathroom was clean and spacious, but it lacked a bathtub. That is questionable for a resort aimed at children and families. While Sam happily sang in the larger-than-standard shower, behind a neon-colored curtain with the words “Squeaky Clean” printed at the bottom, smaller children and their parents would not enjoy bath time half as much.
One doesn’t visit a water park for the food. Kartrite offers tiers of dining options, from fine dining to snack bars. But expect to pay city prices at even at the lower-range restaurants, with mixed quality. At the Surfside Grille, the water park’s snack bar, tater tots were cold, but the pizza slice was inhaled. A turkey wrap and small hummus cup cost upward of $14 in the Highline coffee shop on the lobby floor.
Dinner options include the all-you-can-eat dinner buffet at the aptly named Eat. Eat. Eat., where a meal for three will set you back more than $85. The food was plentiful yet tired. By contrast, the breakfast buffet was worth noting, with everything from lox and bagels to delicious bacon. There’s a bar on both the first and main floor, and a third in the water park. Everywhere we ate, the service was quick and courteous.
We came for the water park, and we weren’t disappointed. The rides were stomach-dropping and the excitement contagious. Two of the slides and a heated pool were closed, but Sam would gladly still be at the lazy river, swimming along in the current, if it was up to him. I loved that the piped-in music included country and West African highlife tracks, and not simply a loop of recent Disney hits.
The Bottom Line
Sam failed to notice any of the shortcomings of the resort. He played his first games of Pong and Space Invaders, and learned virtual-reality game strategy from a very knowledgeable arcade worker. He had what he would describe as four-star pizza for lunch, mac-and-cheese for dinner and a chocolate éclair for breakfast (Don’t judge). We climbed on the natural playground with sticky fingers from s’mores — fingers still prune-like after countless trips down the lazy river and the water slides.
Sam’s review is more concise: “It has slides, water and it’s scary fun.”
What more would a child — and grateful parents — want?