by Lisa Meyers McClintick
With flowers spilling over black wrought iron rails, bright-red doors, and a white gazebo, this classic two-story seasonal motel stands out as you drive on Broadway north of downtown Wisconsin Dells. It’s one of the first Dells motels with a history that goes back to the 1930’s — generations before Wisconsin Dells became the Waterpark Capital of America. Its version of cutting-edge entertainment — an outdoor pool on the front lawn behind the gazebo — is still a popular gathering spot in the warm months.
“This is kind of like glorified camping,” says owner Tanya Krause, who with her husband, Eddie, bought the 43-room motel and a sister property — the year-round Ambers Resort and Conference Center — in the fall of 2010. The motel stokes up nightly campfires on the lawn, offers Ping-Pong and lawn games, the gazebo for gatherings, and a playset for kids.
The Krause’s took apart the motel down to its framework and rebuilt it with new windows, insulation and more, which refreshed its appearance when they reopened in January 2011. Rooms come with microwaves and mini-fridges, which also helps the family budget.
They serve a mini-continental breakfast, which is more of a snack with little pastries or donuts and coffee. Milk and coffee are for sale, or there’s a convenience store less than a block away and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner next door.
If you’re able to snag a room during the busy Fourth of July weekend, you can stake out a spot on round roof above the lobby and whirlpool to watch the fireworks go off over downtown. The motel closes after Wisconsin Dells’ Fall Festival (usually the third weekend in October) and reopens by February, which can be busy with weekend sporting events.
Our Editor Loves
- Affordable prices
- Passes to Noah's Ark and Chula Vista Waterpark
- Outdoor pool
- Horse Back Riding
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
If you have a lot of luggage and gear to tote, ask for a first-floor unit and park in front of it for easy unloading. Handicapped-accessible rooms also are on the first floor. Room amenities include a mini-fridge, microwave, coffeemaker and combination tubs and showers. Large families should make reservations early and consider the condo unit with a kitchen or ask for the second-floor set of adjoining motel rooms that together can sleep eight people. Pack'n Plays and rollaways are available for $10 per night.
These units generally sleep four people with two queen beds, but have space for a rollaway and crib if needed. There is a table and two chairs and patio doors facing the parking lot and pool.
King With Sleeper Sofa or Whirlpool
If you want a couch for watching TV, this unit has a sleeper sofa that can sleep four to six people. There also is an option for a king bed with a whirlpool.
The former apartment for the motel manager was converted into a condo that sleeps six people with a king bed in a separate bedroom and two sleeper sofas. It's ideal as the main hub for large family groups, girlfriend getaways or sports teams, with a spacious kitchen, dining room and the living area with a large flat-screen TV for gatherings. The unit also has a private deck off the back with a private grill and picnic table.
by Gricelda T
The room was clean, it looked great in and out, everything I expected. It was quiet out which was perfect. The Price was not bad at all, well worth ever penny....overall. ... We enjoyed it and definitely plan on coming back. Thank you!
Stayed for 1 night. Nice large rooms, excellent beds (I have a bad back and allot of beds in hotels/motels are to hard, this place and their beds were amazing). The bathroom was clean, the room had a bit of a old smell, but once the air ran for a bit it was ok, we did take bathroom spray with us, so that helped a bit lol. Other than that, it was a nice place, they had a mini fridge for cold drinks, ice machine down a couple rooms. All the pop machines were out so we had to go to the party store. But it was a nice stay
The heated outdoor pool near the gazebo opens Labor Day through Memorial Day and can be a popular spot on hot, sticky days. The depth ranges from about 3 to 6 feet, and it opens from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It's a good idea to bring sandals for walking across the parking lot and your own beach towels, especially if you take advantage of the motel's off-site waterpark passes.
The round front room of the motel lined with windows houses a whirlpool and tables and chairs for lounging. It's next to the small lobby, where there are a few coolers with drinks for sale by the front desk. Children using the whirlpool must be with an adult. The whirlpool closes at 8 p.m. in the off-season.
A playset with a slide, sandbox, three swings and an infant swing sits between the gazebo and next door to Mitzi's American Grill. There are other play areas on the property, including a volleyball net, basketball hoop, Ping-Pong table, badminton, bean bag toss and other yard games. The owners stoke up a campfire on weekends.
Rooms come with passes to Chula Vista's Lost Rios Indoor Waterpark, which is less than 10 minutes away and along the Wisconsin River. It's one of the area's largest waterparks and features an indoor roller coaster, racing slides, a lazy river, play area and slides of all sizes. The seasonal outdoor waterpark includes a large wave pool and multiple slides that drop riders 30 feet down, dip and loop for big thrills. Off-site guests must provide their own towels.
Ambers Hideaway also offers guest passes to Kalahari Resort's indoor theme park with a Ferris wheel, multi-level go-carts, a high ropes course, climbing wall, mini-golf and laser tag.
There is no dining at the motel, but Mitzi's American Grille next to the motel's play area serves breakfasts, soups, salads and sandwiches and specials such as the Friday night fish fry. A 4-block walk to downtown offers a dozen other choices, from brat burgers and Chicago deep-dish to gourmet mac-and-cheese and Italian fine dining.
For groceries, it's about 9 blocks to Zinke's Village Market. Ambers Hideaway guests are welcome to use the motel's six charcoal grills and picnic tables. You need to provide your own charcoal and have disposable tableware.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Free Wi-Fi is available to guests.
In addition to indoor theme park and water park passes, guests are provided with coupon booklets and the opportunity to get discounts on major attractions by booking through the motel office.
The motel dims its exterior lights at 10 p.m., a signal that it's quiet time.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at 11 a.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
Spring, early summer weather and fall can be iffy for outdoor swimming and taking full advantage of the hotel's Chula Vista water park passes (at least the outdoor play areas), but the Kalahari indoor theme park passes offer weather-proof fun and the guarantee of lighter crowds than during the peak weeks of summer. Travel mid-week if possible for the best prices.
The closest airport is the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, which is about 48 miles or an hour away. Other options include flying into Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport, which is 125 miles or a two-hour drive away, or Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, which is a 180-mile or three-hour drive.
For road-trippers, it's just over three hours and roughly 200 miles to reach the Dells from either Chicago or the Twin Cities. The motel is 2 miles or about five minutes from the Highway 13 exit off Interstate 94.
There is Amtrak train service to the Dells, taxi services in town, and a shuttle to the Ho-Chunk Casino, but it's easiest for families to have their own vehicle. Bring your own or reserve a rental at the Madison airport. The Dells' main thoroughfares can be congested, especially during the summer along Highway 13/Broadway and Highway 12/Wisconsin Dells Parkway, but most attractions are less than 6 miles away and reachable in less than 15 minutes.
For Mom and Dad
If parents can sneak away for a date, there are plenty of restaurants and bars from which to choose, along with golf courses and spa services at resorts such as Chula Vista.