On an early April, Friday morning in Duluth, MN, with cabin fever in full effect at home and a weekend ahead with no plans, my wife hatched an impromptu escape for a day or two in Ely, MN. She quickly searched online and found many options. The first one caught her eye: Nice, 'woodsy' website, nice pictures, separate cabins with lofted bedrooms, jacuzzi, kitchenette and gas fireplace. As otherwise frugal travelers, we're really not experienced with such amenities but we were excited about the possibilities and thought, "Who knows, call up and see if they are offering any 'late winter' deals". And so I did - I scored! Instead of $180 for each night for a cabin, Gary, the owner or manager offered it to us for $100 for each night. Wow!...or so we thought. We quickly packed our bags and hit the road, Ely...here we come!
Upon arriving, we opened the door to our cabin and got a smell of something...not exactly sure yet. First impressions pinned a stark contrast to what the 'woodsy yet sophisticated' website described & intoned. The floors were shabby (old vinyl floors in the kitchen inordinately chipped & gauged), elsewhere, the carpet was worn and stained, the outdated couch cushions were torn and foam was protruding in an unsightly manner. The tour through the bedrooms revealed beds in a curious state of expiration. Also, a quick scan of the bathroom left us wondering if we had read the website correctly, we thought towels and linens would be provided and packed accordingly - that's right, not a single towel, no soap on the sink basin either?! ...I will say, upon first inspection, the Jacuzzi 'looked' solid! (btw- as of 4-7-13, the website does indeed promise towels & linens)
We refused to be disheartened, due to our general budget constraints, we had actually stayed in worse and made it fun; we were determined to have a good time. So, like many overnight rentals, the thermostat was set a touch low, awaiting our arrival so we turned it up and the LP fireplace came to life, albeit, very slowly. With it came a a familiar but much stronger odor, the same we had caught only a whiff of upon entering. It became obvious that we were smelling gas...it was an immediate health concern. Not good, right? It got stronger & stronger. Initially, I said nothing of it nor did my wife but the kids meandering up the stairs to the loft where the odor was just as strong, instantly told us how badly "it stinks" and that they weren't feeling to well. With visions of spontaneous fireballs in our minds, we opened the only window in the cabin that could open, turned on the ceiling fan and stepped out. We had Gary check it. He said everything looked fine.
We left for town, hoping to air out the cabin for our return. However, when we did return, several hours later, the smell was even stronger. We tried making lemonade out of lemons with the use of the Jacuzzi. We filled the tub then hit the 'jet' switch. The whole cabin vibrated and the motor was louder than any reasonable conversation level - ridiculous! We still wanted to endure. We turned down the thermostat so the gas fireplace would go out and slept with no heat (god forbid we go up in flames while sleeping here!); we kept the one functioning window open..mind you, this is early April...in Ely, it snowed all night and the entire next day (temps during our stay in Ely ranged from the low 20's at night to low 30's during the day).
We awoke the next morning with a serious chill in our bones. My Wife turned on the electric burners in the kitchenette hoping it would generate some heat. The good news?...at this point there was no gaseous smell! The bad news? This place, when added all up, was terrible. Funny thing is, we're really quite tolerant folks, we would have actually put up with everything else quite well, but the Gas problem was not only stinky, it was downright unnerving...scary.
We got our things together, turned up the thermostat so it would be warmer upon arriving back, then headed into town. Hopeful speculations unfurled, "Maybe the cabin hadn't been used in some time and it was an initial issue which would dissipate...in more ways than one?".. See, we really wanted this to be 'okay' and invented reasons which excused the initial dilemma & gave us hope for improvement. That said, we had earnestly hoped these 'wrinkles' would iron themselves out so that when we returned all would be improved. Well, regrettably, we were very annoyed when the place smelled even worse. We quickly made new plans for our day and left the cabin, then called Gary. I could not reach him and had to leave a message. In my message I asked if he'd step into the cabin and check things out and I politely encouraged the possibility that he'd simply move us to another cabin - we were the ONLY guests for any of the cabins the entire weekend, he had told us upon arrival. He never called back.
When we returned several hours later, we went into the office, which is also, ahem, the bar. I spoke to the bartender who confirmed that Gary was not present but that he had checked out our cabin, caught a little whiff of gas, had the 'gas company run tests' and gave us the "all clear". We returned to the cabin, turned up the thermostat for the last time and immediately could smell that 'propane' odor spilling from their gas fireplace.
We packed up our things and hit the road. When we dropped the keys off, the bar tender, rather than apologize and simply move us or offer us a refund on NOT staying the second night, instead wanted to contest us. We left angry. They could have so easily made us happy, even downgrading us to a less 'luxurious' cabin with simple baseboard heat (or whatever) would have been acceptable. I have never, ever written a single trip adviser review before, I had to write this. In the end we spent over $200 on a cabin we were afraid to spend more than a few hours in.
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- Also Known As:
- Silver Rapids Hotel Ely