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“Horrendous! DO NOT STAY!”
Review of Blue Bell Lodge

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Blue Bell Lodge
Ranked #2 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Custer
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 18, 2010

When we made reservations at Blue Bell Lodge, we picked it above all the others we researched because we were assured that all cabins were newly renovated and clean and could handle all 6 of us. Such statements are even made in their literature touting that ALL cabins are newly renovated. We stayed in cabin B12…now I’m not sure what passes for newly renovated anymore, but something that looks like it hasn’t been maintained or renovated since the ’60’s just doesn’t seem to qualify. There were some nice looking cabins as we pulled in (I even went through one of them 2 days later after the patrons had left and the cleaning crew was there) but ours was not among them. The condition of this cabin would have embarrassed me if I were management and tried to pass this off as newly renovated.
As we pulled up to the cabin my wife and I looked at each other and said, “Ok well maybe it’s new on the inside”. Sadly we were wrong, it was worse on the inside. When we opened the front door, it smelled so badly we called the front desk to tell them we wanted to move but they were not very helpful - they just told us all other cabins were booked. So we were stuck there. We told them of the smell to which maintenance called and told us to turn on all the water everywhere because it was probably sewer gas!

We were new to the area and didn’t want to spend our limited vacation time hunting down new accommodations, in hind sight we should have. The floor in the kitchen had something sticky on it and because we have young children, I got a sink full of warm soapy water and proceeded to clean both the kitchen and the bathroom floors. I could not believe how dirty they were, they were FILTHY, that sink water was a putrid brownish gray after I washed the floors and it’s not like these floors were that big. We both wanted to leave, but again, where would we have gone with 4 kids in tow in an unfamiliar setting and it being later at night. We actually left the cabin at check-out in a much cleaner condition than we received it.

There's a LOT more but I don't want this review to be too long. We contacted their manager Jim Bob Layng who did absolutely nothing and when we reported it to Visa as a dispute, since we didn't have pictures of the place for proof(evidently Blue Bell lied to Visa about the condition of the cabin as well as it being newly renovated) our dispute failed. Our next move is to file a complaint with the South Dakota Better Business bureau as well as the South Dakota attorney general’s office. I'm not optimistic, from reading some of these reviews, seems Blue Bell is use to ripping people off and getting away with it. I wish we had checked Blue Bell out here 1st, we would have picked somewhere else to stay. In our travels in the area we got the numbers of a few other places that look promising and will use them instead the next time we are in the Custer area…BE WARNED, Blue Bell is not a place to stay at or to be trusted for they lied to us blatantly about the condition of their cabins… Good Luck!

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled with family
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11  Thank Jayman50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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220 - 226 of 256 reviews

Reviewed October 17, 2010

We stayed three nights; I wish it was longer.
We had cabin 29 which is a newer cabin. It looks wonderful outside, with a porch and seating for 4 people. There was also a picnic table and a fire ring outside. Inside the cabin was beautiful. All the furniture was log furniture: table and 4 chairs, 2 queen size beds, 2 lounge chairs with padded seats. There was a massive stone fireplace. Wood for burning in the fire place or the fire ring was provided each day. There was also a kitchen area with stove, small fridge, microwave and coffee maker. The bathroom was rather large.
The cabin was very clean. There were lots of windows in the cabin which we kept open at night . There was central air too.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank RealLadyBug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueBellLodge, Manager at Blue Bell Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded February 3, 2011

Thank you for your review. The Blue Bell Lodge is located in a beautiful part of the park. The staff strives to make a very enjoyable stay for our guests.

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Reviewed September 14, 2010

We stayed in a "sleeping cabin" with kithenette and full bath. It was very comfortable and spacious. We enjoyed the location and the staff. The food was very good and this lodge has a nice western feel away from the high traffic areas. Also it is very close to lots of wildlife. We had deer and wild turkeys in our cabin's from yard. The chuckwagon dinner was most enjoyable with very good entertainment and good food. At the restaurant they serve cornbread intead of bread or rolls with dinner - the best cornbread ever! We had a great time and look forward to returning! By the way, we cancelled our stay at the State Game Lodge in order to extend our stay at the Blue Bell Lodge!

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled with family
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Thank Goldwinger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueBellLodge, Manager at Blue Bell Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded February 3, 2011

Thank you for your review. It is great to hear what a wonderful stay you had. Blue Bell Lodge is located in a beautiful and peaceful area of Custer State Park. Blue Bell staff takes pride in preparing homestyle meals for our guest.

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Reviewed September 5, 2010

My husband and I spent three nights in a "sleeping cabin". There are many different types of cabins here, so that may account for some of the varying reviews. This cabin was new, (others looked much older) and incredibly spacious. Two double beds, a kitchenette with microwave, sink and cook top (no dishes provided), a dining table to seat 4, a fireplace inside, an outdoor fire pit and round picnic table. We had no problem with mice, like some of the prior reviewers mentioned. Wi-fi at the lodge did not reach here, but the lodge was only a two minute walk away and wi-fi was good there. All the employees we ran across were super friendly, especially Jim Bob at the front desk. We did the chuckwagon cook out one night - highly recommend - and agree with prior reviewer - get on Cowboy Keith's wagon! He was a delight! There are other lodges to stay at in this park, and honestly, they're all within driving distance of each other so if this one doesn't seem to suit your fancy, try another. We did a bunch of hiking around Sylvan Lake and did like the look and feel of that area, we'd probably stay there next time just for something different. We ate dinner one night at the State Game Lodge, that seemed a bit more upscale. Legion Lake had less going on activity wise, but seemed like a nice, quiet place to stay also. Some of their cabins were directly on the water and would appear to have a fantastic view of the lake. Overall, we loved this park and can't recommend it enough. Enjoy, no matter where you stay!

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank sahedges
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueBellLodge, Manager at Blue Bell Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded February 3, 2011

Thank you for your review. Custer State Park is a beautiful place to visit and stay. We take pride in the quality and service we provide. At Blue Bell Lodge, the Chuckwagon Hayride Cookout is offered nightly. It is a family fun filled activity for all to enjoy.

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Reviewed August 4, 2010

It was absolutely beautiful! The rooms were pretty clean, the staff was helpful, the price was high. Unfortunately, once you are in Custer State Park, everything is more expensive. Would I stay there again? ABSOLUTELY! The fire pit every night, the deer out of our front door, and best of all, the Chuck wagon dinner. We almost didn't do this because of the price, but at the last minute changed our minds. We traveled with 3 young children (8 and under), and it was the best night of our trip. We sang, listened to stories, dance, and ate. It was 3 hours of great entertainment. My best advice is to ask for Cowboy Keith's wagon--he made the night.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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Thank familytraveler1976
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueBellLodge, Manager at Blue Bell Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded February 3, 2011

Thank you for your review. It was a pleasure having your family at the Blue Bell Lodge. Custer State Park is a beautiful place to visit.

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Reviewed July 23, 2010

My family and I stayed in one of the 6 persons cabins and it was smaller than represented in the online brochure. It was so dark and when we tried to open the curtains, my sister and I were laughing because we had to take the cheap little rods off the window to move the curtains. One of the windows didn't latch so we left our valuables in the van. It was quiet and very pretty in the park so we slept well. In the morning we found out that a mouse had eaten through several items on the counter. I told the Manager (?) in the morning at check out what had happened and he just shrugged it off with not even an apology and walked away. Just a simple explanation at check-in that there was a "mice infestation in the park" ;as was told to me by the opening mgr. ; and we could have stored everything different.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank Romanintheruins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2010

We booked this cabin for mid June for our stay in the Black Hills with our two boys ages 6 and 7. We booked one of the old log cabins with a queen and a pull out couch and a "kitchenette" which had a hot plate (which we did not use-looked like it had seen better days and the mouse traps in the cupboard where it was stored was not appetizing), fridge, and coffee pot. A microwave would have been nice. The cabin had been redecorated with new carpet, bathroom had been updated, etc, but it was dark and smelled like mothballs and possibly a dead mouse? We heard mouse activity the first two nights (squeaking and rummaging in the trash can), but didn't see them and I told myself as long as I don't see them I'm fine (even though I wasn't, but I was trying to stay positive and not ruin our great trip). We saw the mice on the third night and that was it. I couldn't sleep all night and could hear them scurrying all over the cabin. The next morning I went to the lodge and I explained nicely that I didn't want to stay the last night and wanted to check out early. They told me my reservation was non-refundable so we could check out early, but would still be charged for the 4th night even if we didn't stay! I asked for a different cabin then (there were some newer ones at the resort), but he said they were all booked. The manager did call to some of the other resorts in Custer and finally found us a lodge room at Sylvan Lake Lodge which was fantastic! I wish we would have stayed there all four nights because the scenery was more rugged and mountainous along with the gorgeous lake, the room was awesome (we actually got two rooms for the same price as our cabin at blue bell so the kids had their own room) and the best part was it was on the third floor with NO MICE! The restaurant was also great. I would not go back to the Blue Bell again. We stayed there mainly so the kids could go horseback riding, which we did one day, but we could have still stayed at Sylvan Lake and driven to the stables----it's only about a 40 minute drive from Sylvan to Blue Bell through the gorgeous Needles Highway....also Sylvan has great hiking and rock climbing nearby and is closer to Keystone. We walked by the cabins at Sylvan and they looked nicer than the ones at Blue Bell, but I'm sure they would be more likely to have mice than the lodge rooms. I realize we were in the mountains and there are mice around, but it got to be too much to handle. For the money of $140 per night I would expect them to do more about the mice problem. Oh, there was also a huge dead crow under our cabin window which attracted huge flies. They did move it promptly, though, but still gross. I would not recommend staying here if you don't like mice!

Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
2  Thank familylovesfun76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Blue Bell Lodge

Address: Custer State Park, 25453 Highway 87, Custer, SD 57730
Location: United States > South Dakota > Custer
Amenities:
Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Custer
Hotel Class:3 star — Blue Bell Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 240
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A historical lodge offering horseback riding and camping trips through Custer State park. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Blue Bell Hotel Custer

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