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“Aurora Borealis Viewing”

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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Level Contributor
4 reviews
“Aurora Borealis Viewing”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 23, 2014

An excellent base for viewing the Aurora Borealis at the Spring Equinox, a prime time. While pricey, the resort provides easy access to Charlie Dome; we took their tracked transport ($75 pp)twice in four nights--and would have done four out of four except for viewing tmes , 10:00 pm to 2:00 am; and the 4-degree (F) temps. The Resort provides excellent support in its warming yurts. Meals at the restaurant were excellent. A number of day-excursions, including free tours of its geothermal plant and greenhouse..

Room Tip: Moose Lodge rooms have phones, their Signature rooms do not. Only Verizon wireless service (1X).
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Donald Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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726 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (136)
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English first
Twickenham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
129 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 20, 2014

Although we did not stay at the resort, my family was visiting Fairbanks and decided to also make the drive to Chena Hot Springs. It's about 1.5 hours from Fairbanks (in the winter, so driving is a little bit slower). In addition to the hot springs, the resort offers many other activities. We went on a dog sled ride and it was the best 15 minutes of excitement money can buy. The resort also has its own restaurant for both guests and day trippers.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Alliejay76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pleasanton, California
Level Contributor
805 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 690 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 18, 2014

I had a bit mixed feelings, so instead of trying to summarize them in one grade, let me discuss them one by one.

1. Location. The location is perfect. It's a remote scenic river valley between the mountains, right by the hot springs. So that gives a lot of potential. Swimming in hot springs in winter is surely fun, as well as exploring the wilderness around.
2. Access. There is a really nice highway which actually ends at the resort, so if you have a car, a day trip is not a problem. Or you can get out to Fairbanks - takes about 1.5 hours to drive one way.
3. Geothermal and green technology. The place feels more like some kind of industrial lab dedicated to harnessing geothermal energy. They do a lot of cool stuff trying to stay off the grid and hit up the houses, greenhouses, supply electricity etc. It's cool, but not everyone likes it.
4. Cozy/romantic feel (or lack of it). As I said above, the place feels more like industrial proof of concept than a romantic getaway. Sorry.
5. Upsell. When I went for a day trip, I paid only for the pool and the towel service. The entrance/parking/trails/geothermal tour were free. So that part looked like a great value. Then I went to the ice museum and it didn't feel worth the price. Then I started looking over other prices and it did look like it could be easy to blow through the budget - a lot of things are quite pricey.

Obviously, one of the biggest attractions is the Aurora lights, they might not be happening every day, and there is not much to do in the darkness of long arctic nights, so I can see people going to Chena Hot Springs, spending days in the hot pools and nights catching Aurora. But it doesn't have that romantic cozy escape in the middle of the cold forest feel, so you may be better off considering a day trip instead.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank heckfy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fairbanks
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 17, 2014

Stayed in Moose Lodge and it was dirty and hot. We had to keep the window cracked which invited noise into our romantic weekend, Amenities like tv were non-existent.We like to watch local news but no channels worked. Changing rooms were horrid. I did not pay good money to have a stranger's butt in my face in the cramped space and I am certain she did not pay the same to have my butt in hers! Staff seemed to be demoralized and after a conversation with a couple different staff people it is not surprising that they have a high staff turn-over!!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
8 Thank musherpeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these Pleasant Valley hotels

Santa Barbara, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 17, 2014

I arrived with refrains of “Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful,” and “later on by the fire...” going through my head. We did lots of “walkin’ in a winter wonderland” because thank heavens the weather wasn’t frightful, but clear and crisp and lovely. But what fire? There was none. Nor a cozy place to sit and lounge and be with friends, enjoy the lovely view, or relax and read? This was not my dream lodge. There are no public rooms for people to gather that any of our group of four would want to be, only a large room with long tables and plastic chairs, no windows, and no people during our four day stay. The tacky looking coffee bar has no view. Large areas of the resort, insideand out, are strewn with junk.

Our guest room was very basic, bleak, with small windows, no view, a smelly bathroom with old linoleum, and one small chair. A phone in the room would have been great, given that there is no AT&T cell service and no wireless provided by the resort. I would suggest a room in the newer Moose Lodge, with rooms probably more 3 star than 2 star. We had reserved almost a year in advance, were put on a waiting list, but still couldn’t get a room there.

There are a few options for aurora viewing, Charley Dome offering the most unobstructed. The problem with that is you are dropped off by snow cats and have to spend almost five hours either in a yurt with a refugee camp atmosphere, no windows, the air murky with kerosene smoke and the smell from the heaters, on uncomfortable chairs. So we were in and out, but even with the minus 17 degree weather, warmer than the average, you couldn’t stay out for very long. Also, the strong smell from the outhouses made me glad I had limited my fluid intake earlier that evening. The evening did culminate in a spectacular aurora.

You could also view the aurora from the airfield next to the activity center, again waiting in a small dark room with uncomfortable chairs, although there is ambient light from the resort. Or, something I wish I had done and think is a good compromise, viewing from the aurorium, a small building with a panoramic window facing north which is short walk up a steep hill. Unfortunately, we had gone to bed early, then heard the next morning there was great aurora seen from there.

The dining room and bar are the only charming areas, and the food is average but uneven. Breakfasts are very good, lunch and dinner not so great except for the lettuce they grow in the greenhouse, and the very succulent scallops with Thai curry. The salmon was tasteless and way overcooked.

The ice museum, where you had to reserve for a 45 minutes visit and an appletini in an ice glass, were fun. The sled dogs were great to see and the sled ride was exhilarating, but only lasted about ten minutes. There were no options for longer rides. I loved soaking in the hot springs, surrounded by snowy boulders and a thick cloud of steam.

Best of all were the hikes we took each day on the great trails through the scenic and pristine valley. These were invigorating and serene, one of the most memorable parts of our visit. I wish the resort lived up to these surroundings, instead of the ill planned and bedraggled place it is. It need to be totally redone by someone with an aesthetic sense and knowledge of what hospitality is.

For other details one should read my fellow traveler’s (RoamerLosAngeles) review titled “So much potential, but...”

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
4 Thank tawnbc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Warrensburg, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
29 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 14, 2014

The drive up to the resort is breath taking. That being said, ask yourself ..... do I want to drive an hour to an hour and a half (depending on weather) to a .... warm/hot swimming hole that smells like sulfur? We did not stay in this resort.... but we did get lost trying to find the entrance to the hot spring. This led us to the hallway of the hotel/resort. An old motel comes to mind. I did not see inside a room. They had several activities ... dog sledding ... ice museum.... tour of geothermal/greenhouse. We did not complete any of these as they seemed a bit pricey for the time allotted compared to other places we had seen, (we paid $90 for a full hour of dog sledding elsewhere) In all fairness the Ice Sculpture contest was in Fairbanks at the time. We were told the Ice museum was cool but it would pale in comparison to the contest so we didn't check this out. The contest was quite impressive. If you have several kids to entertain.... and need a one stop shop to do it.... then maybe okay.... but for me...... Ummmmmm no!!!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jennifer B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 7, 2014 via mobile

Very impressed with the commitment to geothermal energy and recycling efforts. Many leisure options for a three day stay. Though pricey it was good to know that the resort was on the cutting edge of geothermal technology. The hot springs, dog sled, aurorium, ice house museum, geothermal tour and greenhouse made Chena Hot Springs a memorable stay. And an aurora viewing as well!

  • Stayed March 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Dorothy G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Chena Hot Springs Resort

Property: Chena Hot Springs Resort
Address: 56.5 mile Chena Hot Springs Rd., Pleasant Valley, AK 99711
Location: United States > Alaska > Pleasant Valley
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Chena Hot Springs Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 80
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Chena Hot Springs Hotel Pleasant Valley
Chena Hot Springs Resort Alaska/Pleasant Valley

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