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“Best vaca I've had in a long time....”

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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Reviewed 5 March 2014

Did a day trip to Chena this weekend. Wow, am I glad we did. Experience of a lifetime. Yes, it's remote. No, there is no phone or internet, and I imagine TV channels are at a minimum. We arrived at about 11 am and stayed until the snow cats brought us back at about 2:30 am.
The service and guides were top-notch. Everyone seemed to care about making our experience great. I highly recommend the ice museum. It's not huge, but it's a beautiful work of art that should be seen. The restuarant was great, food and service fantasitc. I honestly don't have one bad thing to say about it. Thanks especially to guides John and Chaz. Our snow machining trip was great, as was the snow cat trip to see the northern lights. There is no gaurantee that they will dance for you, and it's cold as hell. But if you get lucky it's the experience of a lifetime. Thanks to a crash course on our camera from Chaz, we were able to get some amazing pics we will cherish forever. Thanks a million!

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Heather L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 4 March 2014

My fiance and I stayed here for only one night because the resort was totally booked when I was trying to make reservations. First, I know a lot of reviewers have issues with the resort and accommodations. We stayed in a 2 bedroom 1 1/2 bath family suite with my in laws and it was perfectly fine. Though not the most modern of hotels, we barely stayed in the room because we were out most of the time either doing activities, going to the hot springs, ice museum, or staying up extremely late to see the Northern Lights. True, there were only a few channels on TV, no phone, and no internet. But, isn't the point of being there to enjoy the outdoors?! All I cared about was the hot shower, warm room in -27 degree weather outside, and comfy bed. The hot springs experience was awesome because the temperature was perfectly hot when it is freezing (literally my hair froze) outside! Ice museum was really cool--I've never seen sculptures that detailed. We had dinner and drinks at the little restaurant near the checkin desk. Food was good and the staff was extremely nice. Lastly, to see the Northern Lights, we did the short hike to the Aurorium, which is this warm little hut up on the hillside. Bring a flashlight to make your way up the hill and around the Aurorium. There's large windows to see the sky and potentially see the Lights. Because it was so cold when we went, we ended up going outside for a short periods of time to see the Lights, then back inside to warm up! I believe it's open 24 hours a day (we went from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and we saw the Lights at around midnight. Beautiful! Anyhow, we had a great time at Chena and saw some once in a lifetime sights!

  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank bestshoeshopper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2014

Chena Hot Springs Resort has the potential to be the most spectacular place in Alaska to view the Aurora Borealis. The site offers stunning views of the mountains surrounding the valley. There is a nearby hilltop with unobstructed views where they offer nightly Aurora Tours. The hot springs are a perfect temperature. And I could go on. We did see the Aurora and it was beautiful, jaw-dropping, awe inspiring. The staff is very friendly and enthusiastic. So there's enormous potential.

The problems, however, are what would prevent me from ever recommending Chena to anyone.
1. Though the surroundings are gorgeous, there is not one common room that offers even a slight view. Not one. My husband had a problem with asthma one day and had to stay inside, and there was absolutely nowhere at all he could sit and read in comfortable, inviting surroundings, and nowhere at all with a view.
2. The restaurant does have rooms with beautiful views but they use those rooms for overflow or tour groups only. We had to sneak in to sit and read our last day while waiting to take the shuttle back to Anchorage. We asked to eat in one of those rooms rather than the dark, depressing rooms used for dining but were told it would be too difficult for the wait staff. All they have to do is change things around so that they use the dark rooms for overflow and the problem is solved.
3. The Activity Center is a tacky enclosed space with NO windows. In the larger seating area there are long trestle tables with cheap plastic folding chairs. In the "Aurora Cafe" portion of the center there are old, dirty sofas and, again, no windows. The Aurora viewing room in the center is a very small room with a window on one wall that contains rows of the same cheap, plastic chairs.
4. There is NO wireless at the resort. When we asked why we were told that they used to have it, but that too many people were watching movies that used too much bandwidth. Instead of adding more bandwidth the resort simply decided to take away the wireless and thus save money. The resort does have satellite and could easily provide wireless.
5. If you have AT&T wireless phones there is NO cell service at all. The only way to communicate with the outside world is a SINGLE telephone in the guest laundry room. To call outside the 907 area code you need to use your credit card or a phone card. I tried using my credit card, the one we used for our entire trip with no problem, but kept being told by AT&T long distance that the card was invalid. Hence, we were completely cut off from the outside world.
6. The room was small and the bathroom very bad. There was rust and mold in the caulking around the shower, a mineral and rust encrusted shower head that severely limited the water flow for our shower. (And, since we live in Los Angeles where low-flow shower heads are required we know the difference between a low-flow head and one that is old and mineral encrusted.) The sink faucet was also encrusted with minerals and rust. It was disgusting.
7. We took the "Snow Coach" up to Charlie Dome one night to see the beautiful Aurora we did see during our stay. It was 17 degrees below zero that night -- very cold. That became a problem when the only bathroom facility up there was an outhouse that stunk. The yurt, which sounded charming when we read about it, was heated by heaters of some sort that produced very smokey and smelly emissions, and it was consequently VERY unpleasant to be in, though we had to come in every so often just to stay warm. Also, the yurt had the same cheap, uncomfortable plastic chairs as in the Activity Center lined up around the periphery of the enclosure and in rows. If the owner of the resort wanted to, he could make sure the yurt was inviting and comfortable, but he chooses not to do so.
Whenever we have taken a "tour" anywhere else we have always had a guide to explain things and answer questions. On Charley Dome, the "guides" sat around talking to each other and because we were inside warming up when the aurora began, we knew about it only because one of the other guests came inside and alerted everyone. If the "guides" had been doing their jobs, at least one of them would have been outside at any time to make sure everyone knew when the aurora began.

So, though we did see the Aurora we were very disappointed in our overall experience at Chena Hot Springs. I think it continues to exist because it is the only game in town, which is a shame. If someone wanted to create an attractive, real, resort it could be a jewel that would not only attract people but pamper them and keep them coming back.

Room Tip: If you want a more spacious and modern room with a (gasp) telephone be sure to stay in the "Moo...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with friends
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6  Thank RoamerLosAngeles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2014

Chena springs resort located nearly 60 miles away from Fairbanks has beautiful scenery through its way. I would strongly suggest taking their shuttle ($125 for each and they charge the same rate for infants too and provide a car seat). The roads are icy and tricky hence, will not suggest driving on your own.

There are great spots to view Northen lights from this resort.At the activity center, there is an Aurora viewing room with comfy chairs and a north facing window. When the lights show up, you can choose to sit and watch from the window or head out from the adjacent door to the airstrip to view it directly above in the sky.

Aurorium would be another spot to watch it though it requires a little bit of walk from the rooms. The other way would be to take the snow coach tours that they provide to charlie dome. It departs around 9 pm and back to rooms by 3 am. Children should be older than 6 in order to take this tour. Also, it would be extremely cold up there.

Chenasprings resort has lot of winter day activities like the hot springs lake, indoor swimming pool,and indoor temperature controlled whirltubs. One has to walk through the indoor swimming pool lounge and head out to reach the hot springs lake. Though the walkway is roofed with wood, it is going to be little colder for those few minutes. Best way would be to take a hot shower, get into the warm whirlpool tub fora while and then head to springs.

The resort offers other activities like snow mobiling ( atleast 16 years old to enjoy this), ice museum that requires a ticket of $15 ( childern under 2 are free ), and skiing. There are plenty more activities during summer.

The signature rooms where we stayed were ok and could do with a little more heat. There is no phone in this room and you will need to walk out to the front desk each time for any questions or room service. There is a television with some channels available.

The restuarant located within the front desk complex has great variety of food. Don't miss the apple cider drink.The Aurora cafe open until midnight is located in the Activity center.

Room Tip: If you are planning for the signature rooms, ask for a room with a north view.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled with family
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Thank gamanamMadhuram
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2014

If you're looking for a Vail style resort/lodge, this isn't it. If you want a great experience, in the middle of no where, go here. The people who work here know their jobs, they're on top of everything, when a problem arouse for us they fixed it. The food is really good and there's plenty of it. The hot springs was great, it's used to heat and run the whole lodge, they grow their own lettuce, tomatoes and herbs, also they have the only year round ice museum.
We took the offered trip to Beaver, a tiny town you get to by plane, it was worth it.
We were there to see the auroras, it was amazing.
The owners are hard working people with a lot of pride in their business and it shows.
I recommend Chena Hot Springs.

Room Tip: We stayed at the Moose Lodge, it was the best.
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank relax608
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2014

My wife and I spent the first few days of our honeymoon here in January and It was great. The staff were really lovely and helpful and made the trip extra special.

For me the trip was all about seeing the northern lights and we were not disappointed. I know the resort has nothing to do with if you see the lights or not but the trip up onto the hill was great with plenty to eat and drink to keep you warm while you wait for the magical display.

I would also recommend doing the Ice museum tour. Really awesome how they make everything in there. Do i really need to say anything about the hot spring itself? Just get in it and enjoy.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Trebor_Notrub
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2014

This is a great place enjoy a great variety of activities, and just enjoy Alaska in winter. I stayed at the very comfortable Moose Lodge The highlight was viewing the aurora borealis from a hill top-- it put on an amazing display! tTake some time to look at the stars, too-- you can see them twinkle. My other favorites were the exciting dog sled ride (hold on!), and the very interesting tour of the geothermal power system and greenhouse. The restaurant is excellent. Everyone is as nice as could be. I especially appreciated the driver, Greg. It's more like a village than a resort; you get to feel at home there. Highly recommended!

Room Tip: Moose Lodge is very comfortable and has telephones in the rooms.
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Stayed: February 2014, travelled solo
Thank LadyJanePottle
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: £113 - £228 (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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