Barlett Cove is an amazing, marine-life rich location. The Lodge in isolation would only receive 3 stars but when combine with a 5 star location, warrants 4 stars.
Upon checking in with the amazing David S., we looked out of the windows overlooking the cove and immediately saw two humpback whales! A mother and her calf fed in the cove and were in view all five days we stayed at the Lodge. At times other whales joined in the feeding and their blows could be heard throughout the day and evenings. Other marine life within easy view were Harbor porpoises and river otters. occasionaly seals. We rented a kayak a few yards from the Lodge which was magical given the whales that kept swimming by and embarked on a full day glacier/wildlife cruise a short walking distance from the Lodge. We hiked various trails immediately outside the Lodge and saw a juvenile moose prancing on the beach, a male dusky grouse presenting, six Barrow's Goldeneye chicks following their mother, bald eagles, red squirrels and evidence of black bears but no close encounters.
The room was adequate with a comfortable bed, heating that we used only once, a great view of the cove, and plenty of hot water. Storage for clothing was minimal, with only two tiny desk drawers and no bureau. Only a few hangers served as any type of clothes storage which is inadequate. If we want to live out of our suitcases, we would stay in a hostel, hotel management! A chest of drawers would be so much more useful than a desk with two tiny stationery drawers. We did not spend much time in our room other than cleaning up and sleeping, so it was not a big issue for us by might be for others.
Be ready to schlep your luggage up and down multiple sets of wooden stairs as only a few room are accessible rooms. No help was offered to us in virtually any respect regarding our luggage. I prefer to carry my own luggage anyway, but it was still a surprise not to be offerered help, especially considering we were two middle-aged female travellers.
The main issue with the Lodge is meals. You have no refrigerator or means of heating food, so you have three options as of our stay in June 2014. 1) Bring your own food and an ice chest and only have cold foods; 2) try to coordinate getting in and out of Gustavus, which has a couple cafes and deli, using the complimentary hotel shuttle that only makes runs to pick up/drop off guest at the airport and ferry dock or hire a taxi; or 3) eat at the Lodge. We were able to use the complimentary shuttle for one trip into town and had GREAT lattes at Fireside, then a hearty breakfast at Clove Hitch, and bought sandwiches for a later hike at Sunnyside Market that were yummy.
So most of our meals were eaten at the Lodge, which was a spotty experience. First off, the breakfast was limited to one option, a buffet, and it was AWEFUL. We were there at the tail end and everything was dried out. And it is not cheap. With tip and tax, expect to pay $35 for two for a terrible breakfast. We never ate there again for breakfast and simply snacked on nuts and dried fruit from then on if at the Lodge. Being we stayed a the beginning of the season, we were served by newly trained staff, which was also a spotty experience. We were served by Mandy several times, and she was a joy! The other staff members that served us were not especially attentive or personable and very S-L-O-W. The fresh fish items, the salmon and halibut, were quite good. The soups were hit and miss. The spicy chili was great, the Mediterranean was meh, the salmon chowder was decent. The caesar salad was an aweful watery mess but the mixed green salad was decent. There is no informal service to get a coffee, ala carte breakfast items (non-existent) or any ala carte items at all, or an alcoholic beverage. You are limited to dining room service or outside deck service, all very slow and inattentive other than Mandy. Lackluster for the most part and unacceptable given most guests will be a captive audience. Also, they ran out of items that seemed to bother the other guests, likes fries and hamburger buns, but did not affect us. News of the Lodge's ordering woes traveled to town and were mentioned by the locals, which was funny.
However, the location CANNOT BE BEAT. You are most likely staying in the park to experience the park, and this is the best (and only) place to stay in a hotel in the park. Aramark needs to tighen up serving staff and provide OPTIONS for grab and go items. My understanding is that the buffet breakfast was not permitted by the park system yet still that was all that was available to we captive guests. Shame on you Aramark! We want to have coffee and breakfast on the go, grab a sack lunch to throw in the backpack to get into the park and you did not deliver in that respect. The refrigerated counter at the front desk was not functioning, and, therefore, no ala carte items. Really? Then make the items available through your kitchen. It's not that hard, it just requires coming up with an alternative and not just throwing your hands up in the air when one piece of equipment is not repaired in the weeks/months you had to repair it. You made that part of our stay, meals, frequently unenjoyable.
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- Also Known As:
- Glacier Bay Hotel Gustavus
- Glacier Bay Lodge Gustavus, Alaska