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Review of Lake O'Hara Lodge

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Lake O'Hara Lodge
Reviewed August 7, 2011

The Lake O'Hara Lodge is not for everyone (and not just because of its great expense). It offers unprecedented access to some of the most beautiful alpine trails in the Canadian Rockies. I can't imagine going there and not hiking, although I suppose some people do. It is fairly small--only about 60 guests at a time. That's partly why it's difficult to get a reservation (keep trying and be flexible in your dates). It is a back country lodge, not a commercial resort. It caters to those who enjoy nature and want a quiet, low key retreat. It makes a heroic effort to be as green as possible--no mean feat given its isolation--and that costs money, as do the four meals a day included in the price of your stay. We met people there who were on their 5th, 10th, even 40th visit to the Lodge. Stay once and you'll understand why.
This was our second visit and we enjoyed our lakeside cabin both times: rustic, but with a very comfortable bed, separate thermostat for the bathroom, so you could dry damp clothes, front porch facing the lake. We found the food to be uniformly excellent--inventive menus for breakfast and dinner, delicious sandwich choices and accompaniments for the trail lunches, wonderful sweets for the afternoon tea (we made sure we were back for that each day of our stay). The staff was cheerful, efficient, and helpful. We particularly appreciated the extra distance they went to get us our lost luggage as quickly as possible (they had to make a special trip to Lake Louise to pick it up once the airline finally found and delivered it). And we were able to rummage through their considerable collection of cast-off gear to get temporary replacements for our own.
The Lodge is a special-occasion venue for us--we've now celebrated our 20th and 25th wedding anniversaries there. It's an indulgence, but considering all you get in terms of location, comfort, food, and service, it delivers good value for the expense if a back country lodge experience is what you're looking for.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Sudbury9122
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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53 - 59 of 66 reviews

Reviewed July 18, 2011

Stayed at Lake O'Hara for three nights in late June. This was likely my 7'th time at O'Hara and once again the lodge did not disappoint. The setting is out of this world. The food at the lodge was great and the staff always friendly. If you like the Mountaints and very un-crowded hiking this is the place to go. It is worth every penny!

Stayed: June 2011, traveled as a couple
3  Thank Travellingfamily287
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2011

After reading reviews on Lake O Hara, I feel compelled to explain what our-of province visitors may not understand about the place. First - the Lake O Hara region is one of the most beautiful, stunning places in the world. Second - If you want to spend the night in the area you have three options: Camping, huts, and the lodge. If you enjoy camping and don't mind mosquitoes, noisy campers or rain, camping is a logical choice and quite economical. The huts keep you away from mosquitoes and out of the rain but they are available by lottery in the summer and it takes quite a bit of luck to get in! You cook in a communal kitchen and use the outdoor toilets. If these two options are too rustic for you that leaves the lodge. There are more than a few people who believe the cabins and rooms in the lodge are worth the money - for that reason, it's hard to get in. The high price is a reflection of the demand - it's simply the only accommodation choice with indoor plumbing, a restaurant, and linens.

Frankly, we are among those who can't afford the lodge in the summer, but we have skied
the road in during the winter months. The lodge is a lovely, gracious old building run by a wonderful Canadian couple who aren't getting rich by running the place. They are extremely attentive to all their guests and work to provide the best experience possible in this exceptional setting.

When I read the negative reviews I have to shudder - certainly these people were expecting some kind of 5 star urban hotel experience - this is a backcountry lodge situated in a place you can't drive your car to. If it pains you so much not to have the luxuries of the city, then this place is not for you. But for those who love nature, hiking, lakes and mountains and are too old or infirm to stay in a tent, get in line and see if a room opens up for you.

Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
17  Thank Maria-Enrique
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 16, 2011

I cannot review the hotel. I am sure it is a very nice. I can tell you that I tried booking a room on Feb. 2010 for Aug. 2010 and was informed it was too late for that summer. I immidiately tried to reserve a room for Aug. 2011 - surely I was not late for that. My request was registered but they said I should wait for Dec 2010 - that is when they make the reservations for the summer. I called again Dec. but they did not have an answer for me yet. It seems they give priority to people who have already been to the lodge before. on Jan. I received a polite rejection - they did not have a room for me. It is a shame that the only hotel by the beautiful lake - which is a Canadian nature treasure - is run like a private members club.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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30  Thank Danizel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
abmillar, Manager at Lake O'Hara Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 20, 2011

Thank you for taking the time to comment. We can certainly appreciate your frustration with trying to secure a reservation at Lake O'Hara Lodge. We are a small, seasonal operation and the demand exceeds availability particularly during the months of July and August. We do give booking priority to our long term, repeat clientele who have continued to support our business over the years, through the good and tough economic times. That said, we welcome and appreciate the new guests who grace our door every season; they continue to be a significant portion of our clientele.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2010

We stayed two nights in September, 2010 at Lake O'hara Lodge. We stayed at the most expensive cabin called the guide cabins. This was supposed to be a destination away from the madding crowd. But our two nights were spent listening to the loud ruckus from the heater. Talk about sound sleep ! It was sleep with a loud sound that kept us awake both nights.

We had requested Vegetarian meals. Since this is the only place where we could have our meals we were quite shocked when we were served grilled vegetable stack for entree ! The other guests were served Lamb chops with mashed potatoes and vegetables on the side.
When we spoke to the husband and wife owners they were both very rude and dismissed our concerns with comments like 'We can't please everyone' The chef put equal effort in creating our menu' etc etc. They showed no signs of remorse that they shortchanged us.
It was obvious after charging $750.00/Nite they didn't care about a couple of non white,non Canadians. They have these wealthy Canadian clients who reserve lake side cabins year after year who get pampered.
These guide cabins were away from the restaurant with no view to speak of. Any one who attempts to stay here will not be given Lakeside cabins but given these guide cabins. Beware.

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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38  Thank Skadi1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2010

Take the day bus in if you can't book a stay at the lodge or a cabin and reserve well in advance! That's how we got started 5 years ago! Just back, and already hoping for that letter saying we're in for next season. The innkeepers, have everything down pat....the care and friendliness, the food, the young folks they hire, the wonderful friends you make and meet there....all incredible...and the trails, the scenery, the lakes! Eden could not have been better.....

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Joan88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2010

The Lake O'hara area is magnificent! if you are looking for a spectacular hiking vacation where there are no cell phones, computers, and cars - and if you have an unlimited budget, this is a wonderful place to come to. Occupancy in this part of the Yoho National forest is limited so the human footprint is greatly minimized.

The lodge is the only place to stay other than camping and I feel they definitely capitalize on that fact! It is extremely expensive - we paid close to $577 a night (including taxes) for a sleeping room with 2 single beds and a shared bath! The cheapest private cabin on the lake is over $800 a night! All meals were included and the food and food service was lovely. We just felt that it was very over valued for what we paid.

For this kind of money, we would expect exemplary service in all areas which would include being reminded to purchase the parks pass that is a necessity for all the parks in Canada - other than reading it in one line at the end of several paragraphs on the confirmation notice we had received when making our reservations in January. We did not recall reading about it and it was not mentioned when we called to confirm our shuttle arrangements to take us into Lake O'hara. We found out about it at the visitors center in Banff on our way to Lake O'hara. It was quite a shock to learn that the parks pass is $20 a day for every day in the parks! We ended up buying a year's pass for $136 because we were staying in Canada for 12 days. This was an unexpected expense!

We also were not told where exactly to pick up the shuttle to take us into the Lake. The parking area is about 2 acres and there was a school bus there with Lake O'hara on it which we thought was our shuttle. We waited and waited, and no one came to the bus to take us. Then, we saw a van at the other end of the parking lot - leaving! We ran after it yelling for it to wait - they took off. At this point, we were really stressed not knowing how we were going to get to the Lake. We walked the entire lot to see if we missed anything and discovered a small walkway at the parking lot entrance that went to another road that was blocked off when we entered the lot.. Lo and behold, HERE was were the Lake O'hara Lodge shuttle pick up was located! The driver told us he would not have left without us, but WE didn't know that! This was a really stressful experience and certainly not how we expected to begin this much anticipated and VERY expensive start to our vacation! When we finally got to the Lodge, I mentioned this to the hotel staff at the check in area. No apology!

In summary, we were at the Lodge for 3 nights and 4 days - the hiking was arduous, but spectacular - and definitely not for wimps! We enjoyed the camaraderie with our fellow guests, and the service was wonderful once we got there.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Marilynn J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lake O'Hara Lodge

Address: 2nd Ave., Yoho National Park, British Columbia V0A 1G0, Canada
Location: Canada > British Columbia > Kootenay Rockies > Yoho National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 9 Specialty Lodging in Yoho National Park
Price Range: $168 - $541 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 23
Also Known As:
Lake o`Hara Hotel Field
Lake o Hara Lodge

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