Updated: May 21, 2015
Review: Best Williamsburg Hotels and Lodging - Historic Powhatan Resort near WilliamsburgWilliamsburg Hotel/Resort Review from recent visit...
Most people plan a trip to the Williamsburg area to see a few things - namely historic Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, and the Busch Gardens and Water Country USA amusement parks. The good news is that there are PLENTY of hotels and motels to choose from in the area, all within just 5-15 minutes of all the above-named attractions. The even better news is that you can enjoy all the space and comfort of a home without being cramped into a small hotel room, if you look into booking a condo-style unit at a resort like the Historic Powhatan Resort. That's what we opted for, instead of trying to cram a family into a standard hotel room (or better yet, they'll let you pay for 2 rooms with a connecting door! no thanks). After doing some research we decided to give the Powhatan Resort a chance, knowing we'd appreciate the 2 bedrooms and sleeper sofa, full kitchen, deck, and washer/dryer to minimize the amount of packing we'd have to do (always a big deal when traveling with kids). In this review, we will provide detailed information about the resort and surrounding area - what to expect, what's good and not so good, prices, maps, etc.
Powhatan Resort Location and MapGetting there.. Most people will be driving to the Williamsburg area, coming either east or west along Hwy 64. Whichever direction you are coming, you will exit on either exit 234 (from the West) or exit 242 (from the East), both of which leave you on different parts of Hwy 199 which forms sort of a smiley face loop under and around Williamsburg. The Powhatan Resort is located closer to the western side, on Route 615, also called Ironbound Rd. -- see map below. The blue marker at upper left is the Powhatan Resort, below it is the Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg is top center, Water Country USA is upper right, and Busch Gardens amusement park is lower right.
View Williamsburg VA Hotels and Lodging - Powhatan Resort Review in a larger map
Steeped in old Virginia history, the centerpiece of the Powhatan Resort is the old Powhatan Manor House (photo at right), which was built in 1735 (and rebuilt after being torched by Union forces during the Civil War). The property was a working plantation for more than three centuries before being turned into a resort, most recently affiliated with Diamond Resorts timeshares. Today the property operates as both a timeshare community and a resort for visitors to the Williamsburg area -- which of course strikes terror in the hearts of some when they hear that word "timeshare" and envision high-pressure salesmen. We only heard the topic once, which we will talk about below..
Williamsburg Powhatan Resort - Rooms and AmenitiesThe whole "resort" really looks and feels a lot more like a condo complex (see photo at top). Pulling into the long tree-lined drive from the main road, you first come across a guard kiosk - you tell them you are checking in and they lift the gate for you (once you've checked in, your magnetic keycard will open the gate for you). Drive up the long driveway and veer left at the first intersection -- the registration office is there on the left as you go up a slight hill. They were ready for us at check-in, just took a second. They gave us 2 keys and provided a map of the property, then directed us to the concierge desk (opposite side of the room) to get a parking pass. A woman there said she was ready to sign us up for a timeshare fractional-ownership presentation (or something along those lines) early the next morning. I hadn't heard anything about this when I booked online, and having been a salesman in days gone by, nobody can sell me anything anyways. I told her that was not going to happen since we had plans, to which she rebutted that it would be early in the morning before anything was open, to which I replied it wasn't going to happen, and we never heard another word about it over the next 4 days.. She did give us our parking pass that was to be displayed on the dashboard, and off we went.
We had an upstairs unit, which shares an entry hall with the downstairs unit. Once in the entryway, there is another locked door up to the upstairs that you use your key on. So up a flight of stairs, and we found ourselves in our 2BR condo. In terms of size, it was pretty much like an average 2BR apartment or condo -- there was a small kitchenette and dining area that connected to the living room, complete with fireplace, and a sliding door out to a deck that had patio table and chairs. Living room had TV, sofabed, coffee table, and chair. One door led to the master bedroom, which was good size with private attached bath (shower/tub). Missing was a TV -- hmmm... Bathroom was in pretty good condition, clean, no complaints. A closet off the living room had the stacked washer/dryer. Another door led to the second bedroom, which connected to a jack and jill bathroom that was also connected to the main living area. The second BR has a small TV. The second bathroom had a stall shower, no tub. Again, everything was clean and functional. Kitchen had full refrigerator, over, stove, microwave, dishwasher, etc. Unfortunately, very few plates or glasses, so you either have to wash a lot of dishes or pick up some paper plates and cups like we did. Kitchen and bathrooms were a little dated, as were TVs, but overall fine.
We had read a lot of reviews before coming to the Powhatan. A lot of these condo units come with an indoor hot tub (lower level units), and it seemed like nearly everyone complained about the water being cold or not working right, so we skipped the hot tub rooms and chose a second floor unit instead. We didn't have any maintenance issues or other problems - everything was in good working order, from appliances to bathrooms to kitchen utensils. We used the pool twice -- it was a little far from our room so we drove each time, but in theory it is probably within a 5 minutes walk of any condo on the property.
A few more resort amenities:
- indoor pool and workout room
- several "community computers" in the registration office, free use for up to 20 minutes, printer was not working when I needed to print boarding passes, and I had to wait while some "chatted" (be polite and move if you are not doing anything important and others are waiting in line to use the computer!) - eventually had to go to the registration desk and they let me use a computer and printer there for the 2 minutes I needed
- swimming pool - actually 3 of them, but all right next to each other; one for adults only, one for everyone, and one for little kids. Pretty crowded on the hot summer days we were there, they provide SMALL towels and there is a bar serving up cold drinks.
- There is a very small general store with things like detergent, beverages, snacks. Located just to the right of the main house, veer right as you come up the main driveway.
- Restaurant - the Powhatan Grille -- SKIP IT. We had terrible service there and pretty poor food. Would never eat there again when there are a dozen restaurants within a 10 minute drive.
Powhatan Resort Wrap-upNothing is perfect -- here are our complaints about the Powhatan Resort in Williamsburg:
- crowded pool
- outdoor deck areas are not as well maintained
- no daily maid or towel service
- some timeshare sales pressure
- garbage can area seemed to always be overflowing
- a lot of people complained about goose droppings, wasn't an issue for us
So overall, I would have no problems returning here or recommending the Powhatan resort to friends. I certainly wouldn't vacation here and just spend days at the "resort", but as a base of operations to explore the larger Williamsburg area, it definitely beats the cramped conditions of a hotel room if you are traveling with kids in tow. Come expecting a condo-complex look and feel, expect the pool to be crowded, don't expect a 5-star luxury resort atmosphere -- it's not that. But for a family vacation, it is an affordable option in a very safe and convenient area. Any questions, feel free to email us at the address below.