I expected the worst because of so many bad reviews on here. Thankfully, the resort was not as bad as I thought it would be. We stayed in a Signature Room and found it to be an average hotel room. The thermostat did not work and the room was hot! I tried to open the windows, but they were locked. When I complained at the front desk, the maintenance man was sent to our room. He told me that the thermostat would not be fixed until the next day, so the only option was to turn off the heater and open the windows for us. He unlocked the windows, the room cooled down, and I had a great night's sleep. I give credit to the resort; there was a problem and they took care of it. The room had a TV that had more than one channel. When I last used the sink and turned off the cold water, the knob broke in half! I don't think I could have done that if I had tried. So hopefully someone is getting a room with a new cold water knob on the sink.
I expected to see horrible locker rooms near the pool, but didn't see them that way. I don't know if the resort has done remodeling or not (or maybe people are just used to immaculate locker rooms), but the locker I had didn't have any garbage in it and worked just fine. The hot spring is indeed very hot! It was hotter than any hot tub I have ever been in, but the hot water worked wonders on my muscles.
The Ice Museum/Hotel was another nice aspect of the resort. It is very cold inside, but they do provide you with a parka. You will need to provide your own gloves or hat if you feel you will need them. The appletini was very good, and the ice sculptures and lighting made the inside look very nice. Honestly, I wanted to see the Ice Museum it because it was on the Travel Channel. Now that I have been there and seen it, I wouldn't pay to do it again. I've seen better. (Like the ice sculptures that the Gaylord Palms' ICE! features every winter.)
The resort grounds do not look bad, but then again that depends on where you are standing. If you are near the check in building, you see paths, flowers, and the resort buildings. If you walk around the back of the hot springs and the moose lodge, you will see the supply/maintenance area. It didn't bother me because it has to go somewhere, but I guess some people who visit the resort may not like how it looks in that area. I suppose the resort could put up a wall to block the view of that area, but it didn't bother me any. Also, the resort does have some construction going on near the Ice Museum, so that particular area looks like a mess as well.
We didn't take advantage of any of the activities offered (guided hiking, dog sleds, ATV's, bikes, flightseeing), but we did go for a short walk on one of the hiking trails. That didn't last long. The mosquitoes were horrible, so we went back to our room. Bring repellent or a mosquito hat if you are going to go on any trails in the summer.
As far as the front desk goes, I never had a problem with attitude from anyone there. I found the woman who was working the desk in the afternoon to be quite friendly, and she was very informative about Alaska and what it is like to live there in the winter. There is a small gift shop there, and some great books on the aurora. (I bought one.)
The food: It was average. Nothing to rave about, but I also wouldn't deter anyone from eating there. The downside is there was only one waiter there servicing all the tables. Luckily for us, there were not that many people there. Unfortunately, there was a girls group (about six 20 somethings) near the bar, and one girl in particular who was just very loud. So much for a nice, quiet dinner. We went back to Fairbanks in the morning, so we skipped breakfast.
I had been told the best chance for me to see moose was along the Chena Hot Springs Road, and that was indeed the case. I saw three on the way to the springs and two on the way back to Fairbanks. If you have never seen moose before, take a drive out to the resort and you will most likely see them!
Overall, I am am glad that I went to the resort. I was so worried about a horrible room and even mentally prepared to leave if need be. I've been to better, and I've been to worse, and this place is not that bad.
- Also Known As:
- Chena Hot Springs Hotel Pleasant Valley
- Chena Hot Springs Resort Alaska/Pleasant Valley