On my last few trips to Death Valley, I've stayed at Stove Pipe Wells. Not so much because I like it better than Furnace Creek Ranch (each has pluses and minuses), but mostly because it's been cheaper. Since they are a NPS concessionaire, the prices for food and lodging are regulated by the NPS, and therefore cheaper than at Furnance Creek (which is an out parcel).
Can anyone tell me how things have changed with the new concessionaire at Stove Pipe Wells? I've heard there has been some room renovations, but are the rooms materially different than during the Xanterra days? And what about the grocery store and gift shop? People always complained about the prices at the restaurant, but I actually found them fairly reasonable -- given the location -- and about 20% cheaper than at Furnace Creek. And the food was more than edible. What's the current situation?
I have become alarmed at the constant price increases for Death Valley hotels. When I check the rates for fall, Stove Pipe Wells standard rooms are $130+ tax, or $145/night total. If you're the type of traveller used to getting good deals on hotel rooms, these prices are very expensive. I usually stay at least 2 nights in Death Valley, but I'm thinking of limiting that to 1 night given the expense. I also noted that there are some cabins at Furnace Creek that are only $25 more than at Stove Pipe, so maybe I'll vary my lodging selection this time.Edited: 10 February 2012, 16:51