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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Reviewed 28 February 2014

Chena Hot Springs was a great winter get-away and a perfect location for Aurora viewing. I was fortunate enough to have clear nights all four nights of my stay at Chena, and the Aurora showed up every single night. I took the Snow Coach up to Charley Dome every night, so I can’t comment on viewing from the resort grounds, but the location up on the hill was perfect for Aurora viewing. It was unobstructed, away from any light pollution of the lodge, and a very pretty location. The Snow Coach ride itself is pretty uncomfortable. They pack you in tighter than coach seats on a plane. But it was worth it to get to the top of the hill.

I had never been in hot springs before, and I fell in love with the hot springs at Chena. The combination of the hot water and the cold outside air was wonderful. Plus the view of the surrounding hills from the springs was lovely.

I found the staff (with very limited exceptions) to be extremely friendly & enthusiastic.

The restaurant has quite a large selection of items, and overall the food was very good. I never felt stuck by having only one restaurant option.

I stayed in the Moose Lodge, which I understand is the “newer/better” part of the lodge. The rooms were fine, but they could definitely use a bit of an update. If they would make the investment to update the rooms, I’d say this could be an absolutely perfect winter resort. Because of the rooms, I don’t think I’d ever be drawn back here in the summer. There are much more spectacular areas of Alaska to visit for wilderness activities in the summer, and without the draw of the Aurora, or the hot springs on cold days, I don’t think Chena would measure up. But... because of the location for the Aurora, and the hot springs, it is wonderful in the winter.

Room Tip: Stay in the Moose Lodge
  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled solo
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Thank FrontierCPA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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395 - 401 of 778 reviews

Reviewed 26 February 2014

Stayed here for two nights in February. I'd give this place a 5-star if it weren't for the fact that the family suite we stayed in had bowed floors. Husband placed a drink on table only to have it slid off. I believe some of the buildings are probably outdated and could use an update. We stayed in building 46 which was wonderful, as it was on the far end and next to fenced reindeers. I don't know why Go Alaska tours would order a family suite for just the two of us...maybe it had to do with availability when booking, but we sure didn't need an extra room with two more beds. We thoroughly enjoy our stay here and took advantage of hot springs, hiking, ice museum and aurora tour. Hot springs were awesome, hiking was beautiful with easy trails, ice museum...loved but felt very rushed on tour, and the aurora was the best they've seen this year and very magical. A truly winter wonderland experience and one we won't forget. It does get crowded with tourists arriving for daily or evening excursions, even though location is very remote.

Room Tip: Get out and enjoy the scenery...bundle up & hike the trails.
  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Tina1004
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2014

I haven't stayed at the actual hotel there, but experienced everything else about this resort including the geothermal pools, the ice hotel, the restaurants, and the tour of the greenhouse. everything is fantastic! Go in the winter if you can for the full experience of the hot springs...dark, cold, yet toasty warm in the pools as you watch the northern lights overhead. The perfect setting for a romantic weekend getaway.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Phoebe R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 February 2014

Didn't stay at the resort. Just visited the ice museum, ecothermal tour, and hot springs while on tour with Gondwana Ecotours (who we also highly recommend). Ice museum was fantastic, ecothermal and greenhouse tours short but interesting. Hot springs ROCKED! A must do!

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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2  Thank danthatravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2014

I didn't stay at the resort, having read the reviews it did not sound like a great place to stay. I only went for a day tour for the hot springs.

1) The hot springs itself is amazing, your hair turns to ice while your bottom half is nice and hot.. a great experience in winter.

2) Everything else was average. Only one main restaurant and a cafe with okayish snacks. Not a lot of options if you're staying here.

3) Staff was VERY rude in the restaurant. You cannot book a table, you must wait outside, but you cannot wait at the bar and then move to a table when it's free. They won't tell you this, I asked if this was okay but the waiter just made a face at me and didn't respond, so when a table was free we moved to the table, then got rudely asked by a waiter 'who allowed us to sit at this table?' He kicked us off the table back to the bar stool and said there are many people waiting outside for this table. There was NO ONE outside. We had to eat our main meal at the bar, and when we were finished and left the restaurant STILL NO ONE sitting at the table. It really ruined my experience eating. No reservations allowed so who is he saving the table for? I dont mind if he was nice about it but he did not apologise, just accused us that how dare we sit at the table without him letting us.

4) The main atmosphere in the activity center is very touristy and crowded. I am very happy I didn't stay here and stayed at Hampton Inn and Suites in Fairbanks, it was much more comfortable and the staff are a lot nicer.

So overall just come for the hot spring.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Kim N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2014

We are Alaskan residents, residing in a rural and remote area, and are no strangers to mediocre food, lodging, and customer service. We don't have high standards. We planned this trip exclusively to see the aurora borealis for his 30th birthday. There were no heightened expectations that this was a "romantic getaway." But our experience was shocking given how much everyone builds up this resort.

Room: Stayed in the Moose Lodge for 2 nights. The room was on the second floor. Despite having a sanitation strip on the toilet seat, the inside of the toilet was stained and dirty. The shower head was orange, stained from high iron in the water. There were holes in the dry wall in the bathroom that didn't look like any attempt had been made to patch them up. The room was kept at a scorching temperature. There was no way to individually adjust the temperature. The floor had several hot spots, which is concerning since the room did not have "heated" floors. It was in the 20s outside, so we had to crack the window. The room lost power multiple times, without warning. They do not tell you that there will be no phone or internet service, at all. Be prepared to bring a calling card or shell out for a collect call if you need to dial out. There is no cell phone service.

Restaurant: First, there is a large sign that says "Please wait to be seated." This would be efficient if there was a hostess or someone responsible for actually seating guests. There is not. Our first night we spent 20 minutes waiting, patiently, for someone to seat us. Eventually a waiter stopped and tell us that we could not be seated because they had just seated 8 tables and were too busy. There were still multiple tables open. We decided to take our chances by sitting at the bar instead. The bartender looked less than happy to be at work. We suspect she was understaffed for the night. It showed. We ordered salads. It took close to 40 minutes to be delivered. When it did arrive, it looked like they threw it together without any attention to the presentation listed on the menu. It was not long ago when we had worked in the food industry as a server and bartender. We understand the stress from the job, and we are usually 20% tippers all the time. I couldn't do it. Between the service and the food, it was hard for me to leave more than 10%. No wait to be seated for lunch the next day. We had sandwiches, one with french fries the other with a side salad. It was good. The service was okay. There was a small wait for dinner, same problem with finding a server to seat us since there was no hostess. We ordered the filet mignon and the rack of lamb. These were cooked to order, but came out a little undercooked. Otherwise, the meal was good. The server was okay. The bread that was supposed to come out as an appetizer came out after we had finished dinner. Breakfast the next morning we had the biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, and toast. The meal was good. Service was okay. To put it into perspective, the first night for dinner was a Sunday night on a holiday weekend. It was probably one of their busiest nights for the week. However, there were hardly any people for lunch or dinner the next day or for breakfast the following morning. Regardless, the service from the waitstaff did not really improve much. This leads me to believe they are really unhappy with their jobs, and it shows in their performance. Also, there is a huge health hazard in the main dining room. There are huge gaps between the logs where the pink, fiberglass insulation is pouring out. Fiberglass when inhaled can tear apart your lungs, and it will be tragic when a small child grabs a piece and tries to eat it.

Front Desk: It appears there are two girls that rotate the job of working the front desk. Our experience was primarily with the daytime clerk, Leah. There's not a lot of customer service. She takes a matter of fact approach. I called before we arrived to confirm check in was at 3:00 p.m. We arrived at 3:00 p.m. We were advised we would have to wait for 20 minutes because (1) Leah was getting off work and (2) housekeeping was not answering their phone or walkie talkie. Don't put check in at 3:00 p.m. if you are also going to have your front desk staff switch out at the same time. If the rooms are not ready at 3:00 p.m., you should offer to hold bags and place them in the room when the room is ready. You should not tell the guest they have to wait in the lobby, where there is no seating, for 20 minutes. Check out went smoothly.

Tours: We did three tours. (1) Went on the free tour of the greenhouse and energy generators. This was informative and pleasant. The guide, John, knew a lot about the history of the resort, the owners' interest in becoming energy efficient and self sustaining. (2) Went on the tour of the ice museum. The guide knew a lot about the sculptors, the sculptures, and the history of the ice hotel and museum. This was a good tour. (3) Went twice on the aurora night tour. We left on time each night. The two tour guides, including John again, were pleasant. You have four hours each night to explore on your own, play in the snow, set up your camera, and try to catch a glimpse of the aurora. No guarantees it will happen. They do post the weather and forecast predictions for you at the activities center in advance and they do a good job of telling you the truth about the likelihood you'll see something. We got very lucky and saw a two hour show of the lights on the horizon on our first night. It was awesome. Got some great pictures and made some new friends. On the second night, it was overcast and never cleared up. We spent the majority of the time in the heated yurt, drinking warm tea, eating ramen noodles, and playing cards with a great group of people. The ride in the snow coach is something else. I do not get motion sickness, but did on the ride down on the first night. Pack motion sickness meds if you get even slightly nauseous, just in case.

Hot Springs: They advertise there are no children allowed in and that they will check IDs. They don't. So don't expect a quiet and relaxing experience. Parents ignore the rules. The hot springs is practically the size of an olympic size pool, with rocks surrounding and sand on the floor. The first night it was warm and toasty. We stayed in for maybe 30 minutes. The second night it was scorching. We were advised to warm up in a hot tub before getting into the springs. We lasted maybe 15 minutes in the hot springs before we got out. The temperature was in the teens, and we've been told its a much more extreme experience when it is negative 40 outside. It was still an awesome experience. The locker rooms are not kept up. There's a huge slip and fall accident waiting to happen. I had to roll up my pants so that when I put them on they weren't sopping wet from absorbing the pools of water on the floor.

Next time, we will probably drive in for a day trip only for the hot springs and the ice museum. You can get great shots of the aurora borealis by finding alternative arrangements in the other areas surrounding Fairbanks, without the disappointment associated with staying at this resort.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Rachel V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 January 2014

This is our second trip to this resort in search of the Northern Lights. The hot springs, tour to the top of the mountain, the food, the Ice Museum with the Appletinis and the staff were excellent. With the exception of 1 housekeeper, the staff couldn't have been more gracious. We stayed in the Moose lodge and the room was clean and comfortable. The hotel shuttle is the way to go, unless you rent a 4-wheel drive and know how to drive in snow and ice conditions. We are planning a trip back during the summer months to enjoy some hiking and horseback riding. Most of the vegetables are grown on site using geo-thermal energy. I love that it is self sustainable. Kudos to the owners for seeing into the future and sharing their vision with us.

Room Tip: Ask for the Moose Lodge. It was quiet and if you use the back door you are closer to the hot springs...
  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank golfnride208
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Chena Hot Springs Resort

Address: 56.5 mile Chena Hot Springs Rd., Pleasant Valley, AK 99711
Region: United States > Alaska > Pleasant Valley
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Price Range: £111 - £222 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Chena Hot Springs Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 80
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Also Known As:
Chena Hot Springs Hotel Pleasant Valley

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