First, I will say that I rarely write reviews. But because I always READ them before I ever buy anything, I would feel almost like I am stealing if I don't take the time to review this wonderful establishment.
Six of us (three couples) stayed for a week and we unanimously declared it the best vacation any of us could remember. For starters, the owner, "Auntie Dorothy", accommodated our strange dates, beginning in the middle of the week and extending through her cook's day off. After securing our agreement that we would have to go out for dinner on the cook's night off, she went ahead and cooked us a wonderful halibut dinner herself anyway.
The lodge is beautiful. The last reviewer must have been drinking so hard he/she ended up in the wrong establishment! The main house is only 6 years old and is immaculate. The cabins and outbuildings are quaint and charming. There is no ugliness anywhere. The road is a long walk away and cannot be noticed from the front porch.
When I first realized that this is a family operation, I was a bit uncertain of what we were signing on for. My fears were put to rest the very first day when I met the guides (nephews, brothers, etc.), administrator (niece), and children of said nephew and niece. There is no ne're-do-well brother in law who lost his job and they decided to let him guide. These people are a well-oiled machine who know how to offer hospitality, expert guided fishing and all the services associated.
Our stay included two halibut fishing days, a drift trip on the Kenai for salmon, one Kasilof River salmon trip and one fly-out for lake fishing salmon, bear, moose and eagle watching and glacier viewing. Our guides were not only knowledgeable, but were ENTHUSIASTIC! They were not just working. They were doing what they love to do.
This was our fourth trip to Alaska to fish, and these were the best guides we have had. I noticed a particular difference in our halibut fishing experience, as our guide, Dustin, wouldn't even consider letting us keep the smaller fish, but encouraged each of us to get the big ones he knew were there. He was very sensitive to whether we were up for more fishing or whether we were tired, and in the end, two in our party caught fish of 150 and 97 lbs. The rest weren't bad either. He and his adorable young son (who served as apprentice deck hand) worked really, really hard. Although we didn't count the ones we tossed back, we estimate that each of us caught about a dozen fish.
Our salmon trips were also very enjoyable, with excellent and affable guides. Given the time of the season we were there, we did not catch as many salmon on the King trips, but the weather was wonderful and the lunches divine. (School lunch?? the last reviewer must have gone to school somewhere I don't know about.)
The fly-out that was arranged for us was the last day of our stay and was spectacular. We were flown by the Talon Air Service out of Soldatna. Our two guides, Rusty and Denny seemed to know every inch of the water. They were patient (with us women who are not very experienced fisherpeople) and very sensitive to our desire to see animals and photograph them. (Rusty also sells photographs he has taken in Alaska and we are the proud owners of two.) While on the water, we saw a black bear, salmon jumping up rocks to go upstream to spawn, and several American eagles, as well as an eagle's nest with young eagles in it.
On the flight back, the pilot asked if we would like to see the glacier. We agreed and he took us on a "wild nature" ride, between mountains and over glaciers, banking repeatedly so all six of us could get photos. He then ran us over countryside with bears and moose, flying low so everyone could see.
My husband and I have been to Alaska three times prior, but the other two couples had not. I can assure you that I (who chose the lodge and the itinerary), will be forever a hero.
On the flight home to New Jersey, everyone was talking about when we will be able to do it again.
I know this is a long review, but after reading the last one (and ONLY one to give less than a five star rating), I just had to refute it. Please excuse my longwindedness and please don't hesitate to stay at Crooked Creek Retreat!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A true Alaskan Fishing Lodge - not just a room. Handcrafted Douglas Fir logs. We are centrally located on Crooked Creek. We fish salt and fresh water. Fishing guides on site. Halibut and multi species trips. Trout, Salmon and steelhead fishing. Campfires, soaring ceilings, filled with Alaskan art, Antiques and Memorabilia. Complete meal service, home made desserts, breads and our famous sweet cream muffins. Complete outfitters, we book all tours, fly outs, fjords cruises, kayaks, horseback riding. We have a large hot tub, horseshoes, and Hammocks in the trees. Large decks, balconies, patios, beautiful flowers and wildlife. Bears, moose and many different birds. Dedicated to complete guest service. Known as the nicest lodge on the Peninsula. ... more less
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