Well, it has been 3 months (June 2012) since we took our trip to the Crooked Creek Retreat, for our belated-honeymoon-Alaskan-adventure, & I can still recall the pros & cons. We have nothing but great stories & happy memories about Alaska, but as far as the retreat goes we have more frustrations than anything else.
First of all, we purchased our week-long stay via Living Social. We thought it was a great deal @ $1,000 pp, for a week’s stay & a fishing trip. Later I found out the $1k pp was only for the stay. Fishing trip was extra.
We flew into Anchorage & drove down to the retreat. Dorthy assured us, during our phone conversations, that she would send a list of stops that we should make along the way, to see great sights & take in the views. Luckily a list was not needed, because everywhere you turn the sights/view are spectacular. I say ‘luckily’ because Dorthy never did send a list, even after my reminder emails. On the phone, Dorthy also noted that her house is our house. We should feel comfortable getting a snack out of the kitchen, wandering the grounds, & that there would be wine available to relax with. I didn’t realize that meant when we would arrive no one would be around to greet us. We had no idea where our room was, & how to find Dorthy. I also didn’t realize that the kitchen remark would be taken back – the first day we were there Dorthy told us the kitchen was off limits. Lastly, there was no wine made available to us until our last day. We ended up buying our own.
Then our biggest disappointment: activities. I wish someone had told us this beforehand, but !! BEWARE of scheduling outings from Dorthy’s arsenal !! Initially we wanted to schedule ocean kayaking & a guided fishing trip. Dorthy dissuaded us from taking our kayak trip, & her reasoning was because the weather was forecasted to be bad that week (overcast & rainy). Fine, so instead we scheduled a flight tour & a guided fishing trip (down the Kasilof River).
Fishing trip first: Dorthy stressed to us how important it was to wake up early & get to the loading dock on time. We were running 5-10 minutes late, & she was like a mother to us – getting on to us about being late & we better hurry or else the boat would leave without us (so we left without eating breakfast). When we got there we ended up waiting for 45 minutes before we could even load the boat. Other people staying at the Retreat were 20+ min. late, but they were happy because they were fed & arrived just a few minutes before loading time.
That day it was cold, dreary, & rainy. We were on a boat for 8 hours with two other men who smoked the entire time, & having eaten no breakfast. I wanted to puke by hour 2. On top of it, NO ONE caught fish. No one in our boat & no one in the 7 other boats. The –ONLY- person who snagged a salmon that day was our guide. He is legally not allowed to reel in fish while he is guiding, so he handed the pole to me so I could reel it in. Later I found out 2 things: the fishing guide is Dorthy’s son-in-law, & the fish hatchery feeding into the Kasilof river had been closed.
So, Dorthy is A) pumping money towards her family-owned businesses, & B) knew very well the fishing would be terrible. On top of that, if you’re short (I’m 5’2) plan on bringing your own wading gear. Nothing fit. If you’re tall (my husband’s 6’0), plan on grabbing your gear early before anyone else gets it. We got soaked, were freezing cold, & paid $350 for 1 salmon that we didn’t even catch. It was a miserable time.
Secondly, the flight tour: Because of sitting in the cold, wet weather for 8 hours, I got sick. So sick that we decided not to go on the flight trip. Dorthy had scheduled the flight trip the day before, when I had told her we wanted to cancel. She made a BIG stink about it, & after many conversations with her, the flight company, & my bank, we had to pay for a portion of the trip anyway (trip was $700+). & from what we heard from the others the flight tour out of Kasilof is boring at best. You see brown bears but only for a split second, & they look like ants. & the fishing is spotty. This was our biggest disappointment.
For the remainder of our trip, we did our own thing. We rescheduled a kayaking trip out of Seward, with Sunny Cove kayaking & it was the BEST money we spent!! First of all our kayaking instructors told us the dreary weather is PERFECT for seeing wildlife – so Dorthy’s claim that the weather would inhibit us was completely false. Secondly, it just so happened it was a beautiful day in Seward when we kayaked (and we saw wildlife anyway!) so that point was moot. The kayaking was the highlight of our trip (my husband was a beginner & I am intermediate, but if you get sea sick then take some meds the night before you go). I would have paid oodles of money more to have stayed in Seward – the town is beautiful & the East side of the peninsula is much more mountainous than the West.
Also, we drove down to Homer, AK (at Dorthy’s suggestion) & found that it was a boring, dreary town. No offense, Homer-ians but there was nothing there. A row of shops, possibly a ship from Deadlist Catch (but another ports out of Seward), & halibut fishing (again, can do out of Seward). One thing to note: while we were there we heard a radio report that the halibut were coming up with a weird texture – jelly-like. I wouldn’t have wanted to catch any gelatin fish. They should be getting back to normal, but I’m glad I didn’t take Dorthy’s advise on that one.
Some last notes about our stay at Crooked Creek: Dorthy did tell us that she made minimal money off of the Living Social deals, which explains why my husband & I stayed in the worst room in the house (I forgot the name, but it’s the basement with the 4 other beds). We had a chance to tour the other rooms & noted how nice they were – they truly are! But we probably got shafted to the worst room because of money. The TV didn’t work & it was huge & not intimate (what you’d like for a honeymoon). Food was good, all thanks to the chefs – not Dorthy. Dorthy was bossy – if you are a capable adult, who does not need a mother-figure getting on to you about every little thing, then avoid this place. She got onto us when we arrived, because we were being too loud (trying to figure out where to stay, with huge suitcases in our hands), but when we wanted to sleep in, she didn’t tell any of the other guests to be quiet! We were told to only use 1 shower in our room (there were 2), but we ended up using 2 (I’m sure much to Dorthy’s chagrin) because the first one stopped working mid-shower (handle wouldn’t turn). We let Dorthy know when we didn’t plan on eating meals with the other guests, & we were given a guilt trip. One dinner had a Hawaiian theme – Dorthy claimed it was for us, the honeymooners, but another large family was also visiting from Hawaii. I had a feeling she threw that excuse out to us as a last ditch effort to appease us.
All in all, we met a lot of wonderful people & we loved Alaska as a whole. But I knew I had to write this all out so I could warn everyone else about the Crooked Creek Retreat, because it seems so many other people have nothing but fantastic things to say. I will post this on as many websites as possible, so people know what they’re getting into. I was swayed by good reviews, & that landed me in a crappy cabin. We spent way too much money on a place that gave us very little in return. The next time we visit Alaska we will be happy to spend our money elsewhere.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our fishing lodge is full service, from your room to your fishing experience, we are a complete outfitter. We have earned a Cabela's Outdoor Adventure Lodge and Sportsman's News Platinum Outfitter designation. The lodge is on Crooked Creek far away from the other lodges in town, yet conveniently located for Salt Water and River fishing. King Salmon spawn in the creek and you can fish it after July 31st for trout, Silvers and in the late fall for Steelhead or you can watch Eagles catch Steelhead and trow them up on the bank. Service is our goal. Our staff guest ratio is 1 to 2. Everything is designed to make your Alaska trip one you will remember. During fishing season we offer all inclusive packages, 6 or 5 nights, with fishing adventures everyday, all meals, all fully guided trips, all gear, fish processing, fishing licenses and king stamps, short boots, hip boots, and rain gear. We have our own boats, we have only the best guides, all are fully licensed and ready to take you out on the Kasilof, Kenai, Ninlchik, Deep Creek, the Anchor and local lakes for Salmon, Trout. Steelhead, Arctic Char and Grayling. Your fishing trips include a Halibut trip on the Cook Inlet, a Fly Out across the Cook Inlet to the Alaska Peninsula, plus you will enjoy drift boat fishing on the Kasilof, power boats on the Kenai, or walk in for some great trout and Steelhead fishing. We also provide adventure packages that offer fjord cruises, kayaks, bear viewing that can be combined with fishing adventures. Guests enjoy meals with other guests and guides, hanging out at the fire pit, swinging in hammocks, relaxing in the hot tub, sight seeing, or watching wildlife from the decks. All rooms have private baths, spa robes, first class linens, and are fully appointed. You have available 24/7 cold beverages on the kitchen deck and in the breakfast loft there are snacks, coffee, teas, hot chocolate, and juice in the fridge. If you would like your fish cooked for you just ask, we will put it on the grill for an afternoon snack, or for dinner. All guests meet with the chef to discus and food preferences. The chef makes all of our bread, pastries, and all of our lunch meats are cooked in house, you will have options for fresh salmon, Halibut, and other Alaska seafood, as well as Prime Rib some great barbecue, and of course hot breakfast every morning. Of course you have available throughout the lodge Wifi, the great room has Sat TV, two of the rooms have kitchens and TV. There is always the Library loft for some great views or quiet relaxing with a book. ... more less