Big Meadows Lodge has always been a slice of paradise, a family oriiented place to get back to nature. I've enjoyed this place since I was about 10. It is a rustic lodge with mountain charm, with rustic rooms and cabins - a pristine place where deer are at home, and a hike or horseback ride would bring you close to the natural beauty. From your balcony you could see the Shenandoah Valley thousands of feet below, simply magnificent. A basement 'Tap Room' would serve up good food and spirits, and a rustic restaurant with a magnificent view would serve up the best of country cooking. All of this came to us for all to enjoy at family friendly prices, courtesy of your National Park Service (and your tax dollar).
But Not Any More. Most of the views are gone, the riding stables are closed, the good & reasonable food is only a memory, and the family prices are now for wealthy families.
Not too many years ago, when I was just married I paid about $12 for a room here. Two years ago I paid $99 for a room w/ view. This year I paid $141.00. That's over 40% higher. Now, 2 years ago I averaged $2.99 for gas & this trip was about $3.89. That's a 30% increase for gas. If folks are so mad at gas prices, maybe they should be mad at these prices. Rooms of this quality in the real world would have a very hard time getting $59-69 a night. This year they have added a $3 water sursharge. If water is so scarce, why don't they replace those old toilets with 1.6 gallon models. A new toilet only cost about what they charge for one nights rent.
And yes, they closed the stables. I heard a flimsy excuse that didn't hold much water to me. If you are willing to drive 20 min. or so up the drive, you can still ride horses at Skyland for a fairly reasonble price of $30. Don't tell Aramark that it's reasonable or next year it will be a prohibitive $60. This is a great experience and tradition.
And most of the magnificent views are gone. Trees have grown up from the original clearing. I paid for a room with a view. All I got was a room with a view of trees. How can they sell a room-with-a-view that has no view? I have heard that they control up to 200 feet out, which means they CAN trim the trees. Others claim that some Appallacian Trail Organization pressures them not to trim because the trail runs close by. Balony! The trail runs thousands of miles long, they can let us have a few hundred feet. After all, you don't need to cut the trees down, only need to 'top' them. Besides, if the land was originally cleared for a view, then this original intent should be maintained.
Now for the worst change.....the food. Gone is that good old country cooking we came to love. The current menu is entirely inappropriate for the setting. This menu would be more at home at The Regency Hotel in Manhatten. Price wise it runs about twice as much as a family oriented restaurant. Worse, the quality is horrible. Worse, unless you have the appitite of Tinkerbell, you will probably leave hungrey. Worse, it is the only food option - a complete monopoly. At Skyland you can at least go to the bar and get a burger (for about $50 for a family of four). At Big Meadows today the bar only serves appitizers from the dinner menu for around $8-10. My question is, if Cracker Barrel can do it right, why can't they?
Don't get me wrong. To all outward appearances this is the same place so many of us have come to love. I would, however, not advise getting hungrey. They are beginning to refurbish the rooms. TV and A/C (still no phones) is being added, which will delight some & disappoint others. The changes to the rooms are actually minor. They are going to bare wood floors, which turned the soles of my son's feet black. They have new pillow top beds, however, they are not all that comfortable and have a low-end feel to them. My family didn't like the new furniture, but I thought it blended well with the mountain lodge charm of the room. It is natural pine and I think contrasts well with the age old dark notty pine walls. The paths around Big Meadows (one goes a mile to the 'Wayside') are made of standard black-topping and should be resurfaced, if only for liability purposes. They are quite worn with many defects and could cause a serious fall. I saw a wheelchaired person trying to negotiate a path & finally bail out due to the poor surface quality and pit-falls. It's a national park, it should be accessible. I am a physician and sensitive to such things. I hope this review is helpful. Personally, I will continue to return to Big Meadows and enjoy what there is left to enjoy. Shenandoah Nat. Park and it's lodges are a national treasure and if enough people complain about the changes over the recent years, then perhaps it can once again be a family oriented place with charming lodging, great views, horse trail rides, and reasonably priced home cooking.
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- Also Known As:
- Big Meadows Hotel Shenandoah National Park
- Big Meadows Virginia
- Big Meadow Lodge
- Big Meadows Lodge Virginia
- Big Meadows Shenandoah