We stayed at Bugaboo Lodge and our experience couldn't be any more different than Vick M's. It was a fantastic vacation in all respects!
ROOMS: Not fancy, but spacious, bright, thoughtfully arranged. Beds were very comfortable. Lots of hot water, not always true of remote or more rustic locations where I've been. Lots of places to store your stuff. All rooms face mountains, but ask for a room facing the spires for a spectacular view from your bed.
LODGE: Again, nothing fancy, but spacious, comfortable, and well organized. Lots of places to gather with other hikers in the evenings should you want to do that. Even though the lodge was full when we were there, it was never crowded and always quiet throughout except for pre- and post-dinner gatherings. Large hot tub with great view of the spires. Sauna. Everyone raved about the masseuse, but I didn't have a massage so I can't speak from experience. Stretching classes in the morning before breakfast. Well-stocked bar. Bottled water, sun tan lotion, bug spray, extra earplugs (for the helicopter rides), snacks always available as needed. Small "museum" of the history of heli-skiing and local fauna. Ping pong table, pool table, some exercise machines.
FOOD: Dinner was outstanding (this from a New York foodie). Delicious, healthy, well-prepared, attractively plated. Will accommodate dietary restrictions (e.g., celiac disease, etc.). Many choices for breakfast either on the table or at a buffet-- cereals (hot & cold), fruit, some kind of meat (e.g., bacon,sausage), breakfast food (e.g., french toast, eggs). Lunch, which you pack up yourself before you leave in the morning, consists of sandwiches (so-so, but fine for these purposes) you choose that are prepared in advance & labeled w/your name, cut veggies, granola, other snacks, fruit, juice boxes.
ATMOSPHERE: Lodge staff is extremely friendly and helpful. See below for discussion about clientele. Two great pluses: (1) guests dine with staff so you get a sense of feeling part of the lodge. (2) you never have to dress up or wear makeup, ever unless you want to.
CLIENTELE: I only mention this because of Vick M's scathing remarks. During our 3 days at the lodge, everyone we met was active for a good portion of the day; no one spent the entire day sitting in chairs, idling away the hours (though you certainly could have done so if you wanted and no one -- besides Vick M -- would judge you). This included one woman in her late 70s who was recovering from a devastating health situation -- she was out there hiking every day, too. The cost and the interest in hiking necessarily limits who goes on CMH trips, but there was a range of ages (from a family w/small children to the elderly), and people came from different places (from down the road from the heli-pad to NY and Alabama). Through communal dining and hiking, you meet the other guests, most of whom were pleasant and friendly.
HIKING, THE HIGHLIGHT: Imagine the most beautiful view from a mountain you've ever seen. Now imagine that view around you 360 degrees. Every day, all day. Simply spectacular. Guides are all very knowledgable and most (not all) are friendly and generous with their knowledge. There are 4 levels of hiking at CMH -- something for everone. While we were there, if you told your guide you were tired, needed an easier hike, or wanted more challenge, the guide arranged for a helicopter pick up to switch groups or go back to the lodge. Some special activities too -- hiking on a glacier, the via ferrata.
An aside to address 2 criticisms in earlier reviews...#1 -- In the distance I saw the road Vick M. mentioned -- an old logging road (dirt, narrow) that goes up to the lodge, but it was nowhere near the spots where we were dropped by the helicopter or where we hiked. #2 -- The days we were there, we would occasionally cross paths with another CMH group (e.g., one that was taking a more [or less] rigorous route through some of the same terrain, but that happened maybe twice the entire time we were there and we never heard/saw the other groups --or anyone else -- again on our hikes. We never got the feeling this was "processed."
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