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“Great location, mediocre accommodation & service” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Chena Hot Springs Resort

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Chena Hot Springs Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Pleasant Valley
Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
65 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Great location, mediocre accommodation & service”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 April 2014

My family stayed at Chena over the Spring Equinox weekend, a busy time for the resort. We arrived late morning so could not check in until 3 p.m., but we were given pool passes that gave us immediate access to the pool and hot springs, which we used and appreciated.

We had booked a Signature Room, which was essentially a two double-bed dorm-style room with very basic amenities, in a two-story, eight room building. We were on the ground floor, which meant that it was very disruptive when anyone from one of the other seven rooms came in or exited the building. There were, between the hot springs staying open until midnight, and those heading out through the night to check on the aurora, dozens of instances of the main door banging shut and people tromping up the stairs beside our room. I wasn't expecting a full night's sleep (we, too, hoped to do some aurora-viewing), but the noise of the constant coming-and-going got annoying.

We got up to view the aurora at 3:30 a.m., having been awoken by a staff member who was knocking on our neighbor's door, saying "The lights are out, the lights are out!" This was a welcome interruption, and we headed out as well, walking up the dark hillside to the "aurorium" viewing area. The aurora was not dramatic that night, but we felt fortunate to see them at all, and none of the negativity in this review has anything to do with not getting a better "show". We had heard that the resort did wake-up calls for when the aurora was out but when I asked a staff member about this she thought that we couldn't rely on them as they sometimes "fell by the wayside."

We ate all three of our meals in the main dining room, and in a Groundhod Day-type moment ended up at the same table in a dark interior room all three times. The skinny on the meals: reasonably-priced, decent main courses, salads were as fresh as anything in Alaska (thanks to the greenhouse on site), the service was mediocre. Lots of waiting (for tables, even when there were empty ones), for someone to take our order, to get our check.

There are some things Chena Hot Springs Resort is to be commended upon, especially given its remote location, such as the thermal energy plant and the greenhouse production. But there are so many small touches that could truly set it apart that would cost next to nothing. The dining room often had heavy curtains drawn that unnecessarily blocked out a lot of natural light; extra chairs and tables were dumped just outside the restaurant in the restroom area that gave it the feeling of being a dead zone; historical photos of the area could have been much more prominently featured instead of hung in forgotten corners. And the poolhouse changerooms could have benefited from one of those spinning quick-dryers to get most of the moisture out of bathing suits that were about to be packed in luggage for the trip home. Sometimes, doing things the "Alaskan way" can be charming and quirky, at Chena this mainly means it is amateurish.

Another small but important improvement that would be so easy to make: the pool reception area also serves as a quasi-pharmacy, selling everything from disposable bathing suits to shampoo and toiletries. But seeing condoms and anti-diarrhea products on sale AT THE POOL did nothing to enhance the quality of my experience. Sure, we're 50 miles from the closest drug store, but for goodness sake, sell those items somewhere else on the property.

The rock pool outside (no kids under 18) was the main attraction for me, and it was glorious to stand in the sun, look at the surrounding peaks, and relax. Some areas of the pool have extremely hot water on the surface, and those with sensitive skin need to be careful about where they travel within the pool. At one point walking through a certain section I felt like I was scalding my stomach. Other areas do not suffer from this, but the heat can quickly get overwhelming.

The resort also needs more staff oversight of the hot springs. In several visits to the rock pool over two days, I never saw a staff person out there, and once when I walked past late at night (on an aurora-seeking mission), there were a bunch of younger yahoos in the springs with open liquor bottles. Glass (and alcohol, for that matter) in the pool is not cool. Guests should not have to be policing that.

Overall, I was glad to visit, Chena does have its natural beauty and location going for it, but on the service and accommodation front it falls well short of where many would place their expectations. Having been once, I do not expect to return.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank AirCanuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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713 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (132)
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English first
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
80 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 April 2014

Follow Chena Hot Springs Road until it ends, there are no signs until just before the entrance to the resort (about 56miles).
Our accommodation was basic, but we weren't here for the accommodation. I had read this is one of the best locations to view the aurora and they weren't wrong.
Accommodation includes access to the hot springs which are amazing, lockers take a $0.25 and you don't get your money back so once you lock the locker you will need to pay another $0.25 if you forget to put something away. Towels are also included. skip the "spas" and just head straight for the giant hot springs, as you wonder around you will find reallly hot pockets of water, take care on the ramp as it is slipery in some spots.
Lots of activites at the resort but book early as most things are booked out by early morning.
The aurora tour is $75pp, the ride up is about 30mins and very bumpy. Up the top you can keep warm in the yurt which is toasty warm and they provide unlimited warm drinks and noodles.
We were lucky enough to witness the aurora on both nights we went up and the sight was just magical.
There is plenty of room up the top for people to spread out and take photos of the aurora.
Make sure to dress super warm, you can hire snow boots for $15 and other clothing.
The restaurant is ok, with nothing else around there is not much choice.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Ricaaaa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Yellowknife, NWT
Level Contributor
185 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 March 2014

My wife and i drove up to the hot Springs in March. The drive was difficult, we stopped to push a local person out of the ditch. I can see how at times the road would be impassable.

We went on both the ice museum tour and the geothermal tour. Both were great, conducted by James who was very knowledgeable.

The hot springs themselves were great, with interesting temperature variations from place to place.Because the pool was 18 and over, it make the experience more relaxing that it might have been otherwise.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank YKexplorers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 March 2014

An excellent base for viewing the Aurora Borealis at the Spring Equinox, a prime time. While pricey, the resort provides easy access to Charlie Dome; we took their tracked transport ($75 pp)twice in four nights--and would have done four out of four except for viewing tmes , 10:00 pm to 2:00 am; and the 4-degree (F) temps. The Resort provides excellent support in its warming yurts. Meals at the restaurant were excellent. A number of day-excursions, including free tours of its geothermal plant and greenhouse..

Room Tip: Moose Lodge rooms have phones, their Signature rooms do not. Only Verizon wireless service (1X).
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Donald Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Twickenham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
128 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 March 2014

Although we did not stay at the resort, my family was visiting Fairbanks and decided to also make the drive to Chena Hot Springs. It's about 1.5 hours from Fairbanks (in the winter, so driving is a little bit slower). In addition to the hot springs, the resort offers many other activities. We went on a dog sled ride and it was the best 15 minutes of excitement money can buy. The resort also has its own restaurant for both guests and day trippers.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Alliejay76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pleasanton, California
Level Contributor
805 reviews
69 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 689 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 March 2014

I had a bit mixed feelings, so instead of trying to summarize them in one grade, let me discuss them one by one.

1. Location. The location is perfect. It's a remote scenic river valley between the mountains, right by the hot springs. So that gives a lot of potential. Swimming in hot springs in winter is surely fun, as well as exploring the wilderness around.
2. Access. There is a really nice highway which actually ends at the resort, so if you have a car, a day trip is not a problem. Or you can get out to Fairbanks - takes about 1.5 hours to drive one way.
3. Geothermal and green technology. The place feels more like some kind of industrial lab dedicated to harnessing geothermal energy. They do a lot of cool stuff trying to stay off the grid and hit up the houses, greenhouses, supply electricity etc. It's cool, but not everyone likes it.
4. Cozy/romantic feel (or lack of it). As I said above, the place feels more like industrial proof of concept than a romantic getaway. Sorry.
5. Upsell. When I went for a day trip, I paid only for the pool and the towel service. The entrance/parking/trails/geothermal tour were free. So that part looked like a great value. Then I went to the ice museum and it didn't feel worth the price. Then I started looking over other prices and it did look like it could be easy to blow through the budget - a lot of things are quite pricey.

Obviously, one of the biggest attractions is the Aurora lights, they might not be happening every day, and there is not much to do in the darkness of long arctic nights, so I can see people going to Chena Hot Springs, spending days in the hot pools and nights catching Aurora. But it doesn't have that romantic cozy escape in the middle of the cold forest feel, so you may be better off considering a day trip instead.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled solo
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank heckfy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fairbanks
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 March 2014

Stayed in Moose Lodge and it was dirty and hot. We had to keep the window cracked which invited noise into our romantic weekend, Amenities like tv were non-existent.We like to watch local news but no channels worked. Changing rooms were horrid. I did not pay good money to have a stranger's butt in my face in the cramped space and I am certain she did not pay the same to have my butt in hers! Staff seemed to be demoralized and after a conversation with a couple different staff people it is not surprising that they have a high staff turn-over!!

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank musherpeg
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Chena Hot Springs Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 80
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Chena Hot Springs Hotel Pleasant Valley

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