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“Come for the fishing, not the accommodations”

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Veterans On The Lake Resort
Ranked #13 of 35 Speciality Lodging in Ely
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Come for the fishing, not the accommodations”
Reviewed 28 June 2014

This resort offers reasonably priced accommodations. The cabins are a little rough and small, but it's all you need if you are coming for the great outdoors, and not the resort. Their website is accurate with cabin images. They are very clean, I will give them that. They are in a beautiful location on Fall Lake, just outside of Ely MN and the lake is half in the Boundary Waters. You couldn't ask for a better location as far as your outdoors experience goes.

My complaints are: You are asked to check in after 3:00 pm, but the lodge closes at 4:00, so you only have an hour window to check in. They don't like you to check in early, so you have to plan your arrival time to a T.

The heavyset guy that checks you in is not very friendly or welcoming...again, come for the nature, not the service.

The cabins aren't too bad, except our most recent stay was in Steve's cabin #19, and the couch was in horrible condition. Sunken in and a loveseat in a 3 bedroom cabin is not enough. It's not too difficult to find a free/reasonable used couch, so I hope they update this thing.

Also, I'm not sure how they can honestly promote a tennis court or shuffle board, as they are pretty dilapidated.

Unfortunately their water smells and tastes like death, so we bring our own in a 5 gallon container from town. You could easily fill a Gatorade/Igloo style cooler with a spigot on it in town to use for cooking/drinking. You can brush your teeth with it if you're brave, but I wouldn't recommend cooking/making coffee/drinking it.

The cabins come with some cooking utensils but we bring our own pots and pans as they are limited. You will need to bring your own bath and hand towels and bathmats, coffee filters, paper towels, fans, and dish soap. Also they provide only a couple rolls of toilet paper. If you're not sure, pack it, as necessities/groceries in town are expensively priced for a tourist town. We bring our groceries in coolers with us, because we don't want to pay the grocery prices in town.

The cabins DO offer: Bedding, air conditioner unit in the main room and possibly one bedroom, a fireplace heater, ceiling fan in main room, hand soap for bathroom, a few rolls of toilet paper, microwave, satellite tv, some kitchen towels, limited kitchen utensils, alarm clocks.

They advertise Wi-Fi, but it must only cover the Lodge, as I was unable to get a signal in our cabin.

So... if you are the type of person who wants to save some money and can handle modest living arrangements then this is a fabulous place to stay. The lake/fishing/outdoors/Boundary Waters access is amazing. You will definitely have a wonderful "up north" experience!

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Allison B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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11 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
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English first
Duluth, Minnesota
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 July 2013

Just returned from my 3rd stay at the VOTL Resort. Once again a great time was had by all. I feel compelled to note a few things before I get into the review. This resort caters to veterans and disabled veterans & civilians. They are not supported by the government or any subsidy program, so their nonprofit organization is funded by donations and the reasonable rental fees. The grounds are mostly wheelchair accessible and a Hoyer lift can be made available. They also offer a meal plan if you need it. Those things give this resort a special place in my heart.

I struggle with reviewing facilities such as these because, it is true, the cabins and facilities are in need of some TLC but they are clean and cared for the best they can with the resources they have. The furnishings might not be matching or may be outdated, the docks a little rickety or the screen door on the fish cleaning house may be dilapidated, but the staff are so friendly and helpful and we just love the "feel" of the resort.

First, let me say I think the one place the resort fails is with their website. It is very difficult to navigate and to find even simple things like availability, accomodations each cabin offers, photos, etc. For example, you have to go into the booking engine to see pics of the cabins which was very odd to me, and I don't even know that I ever saw a picture of the pool. I think if they had more picture showing the facility, cabins, & grounds, people would understand these are not first class accommodations. If you know the condition of the resort going into it, you will have the appropriate expectations and likely enjoy your stay.

We stayed in the Rock house. It is larger cabin w/ 4 bedrooms upstairs and one very small one downstairs. There was plenty of kitchen & dining space, living room a little small but not bad & plenty of room down stairs. The downstairs could definitely be better set up though with a couch and chairs (like it was last time we were there) versus the two small dinette sets this time. The pool was nice, clean & warm. The only down fall was they didn’t have any chairs or tables around the pool. Again everything costs money. The tennis court is in very rough shape, more for just batting the ball back & forth. Same with the shuffleboard court. Disks are broke and the plastic heads on the cues are very worn down. On a plus note, the boat launch is nice and they have two new playgrounds with new equipment. And for us, the outdoor pool was priceless! Not many resorts of this type in this area have pools so we really enjoy that part. They do have a few items for sale in the lobby but town is not far away if you forget something.

As I mentioned, this was our 3rd stay, so we knew what to expect. We had 3 generations, grandparents, parents and grandkids and everyone enjoyed themselves. So, all that being said, I will say our stay and experience was 5 star but the condition of the resort is more 3 star.

Room Tip: In case you didn't see it on the website, please note there are 5 bedrooms BUT 4 of them have 2...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Moopoo2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rochester, MN
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 July 2012

Came to Ely for a college visit for my son at Vermillion College there. Just wanted two nights clean, comfortable lodging, nothing fancy. Well, nothing fancy was what we got. For $154/night it was not a quaint cabin on the lake as described in the literature, but a concrete block nightmare that reeked of PineSol. The AC was a tine window unit in what barely passed for a kitchenette. It could not even keep that room cool, let alone the rest of the place.

It took 10 minutes to find someone to check us in, and when she finally came to the bunker that passes for the office, she smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke my son was nealry nauseated.

After about 10 minutes in the place I began to have breathing problems. My throat was closing up and I began to cough. We left the "cabin" and went into Ely and found a beautiful room at the Grand Ely Lodge for only $20 more per night. We went back to Veterans and checked out as fast as we could. It took another hour before I could breath normally again.

Stay Away!!!!!!

Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
Helpful?
5 Thank Mitch1110
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VOTLR, Manager at Veterans On The Lake Resort, responded to this review, 3 August 2012
First of all, we sincerely apologize for this guests breathing issues. Our housekeeping crew had just finished cleaning that cabin only minutes earlier. Our cabins, which date back to before the founding of Veterans on the Lake, are old. As a non-profit, we do our best to improve and upgrade this resort as funding becomes available. We were recently able to replace the air conditioner in this cabin with a new, more efficient model. It is highly unusual for our office personnel to be absent from the lodge office when a guest is checking in. They are allowed periodic breaks where they may choose to go outside and have a cigarette. We understand some people are highly sensitive to any smoke odors and we do apologize.
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Travellers are raving about these Ely hotels

Shawano
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2012

I booked a studio cabin (their least expensive one) for a 70+ veteran - 25 years in the air force. Due to very, very unforeseen circumstances I needed to cancel less than 48 hours later. The reservation was 6 weeks out. Even given the situation they charged the $50.00 cancellation fee. It makes me wonder if this is similar to other rip offs for veterans I am hearing about on TV. My suggestion is to stay away from this.

Stayed July 2012, travelled solo
Helpful?
3 Thank RiverAngel2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VOTLR, Manager at Veterans On The Lake Resort, responded to this review, 3 August 2012
We are sympathetic to personal issues which do come up, however our refund policy is clearly stated on our literature and website. Also, we always offer our cancelling guests the the option of re-scheduling at a future time, thereby retaining all of their deposit dollars.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Minnesota
Level 6 Contributor
42 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 August 2011

VOTLR was a delightful surprise! We stayed in a one bedroom cabin with a lovely view of Fall Lake. The resort is approximately 5 miles east of Ely, MN on the Fernberg Rd., so accessiblity to the stores, shops, and restaurants in town is very easy - directly off the highway, no long dirt road to navigate to get to your cabin on the lake!

The cabin had log walls and ceiling, a small yet completely functional kitchen with all utensils and dishes provided, a shower-only bath, and a double-size bed. It was very clean! There were dish rags and bedding provided, but you need to bring your own bath towels and wash clothes, as well as any additional pillows (2 on the bed).

We stayed in Cabin #30 which is a tri-plex, 2 bedroom cabins on each side, all under one roof. We had quiet neighbors, but you could still hear the shower and the toilet flushing. Realistically, we were only in our cabin to sleep and eat breakfast - otherwise we were enjoying all the naterual beauty Ely has to offer!

The resort has a heated pool, kids' playground, basketball courts, as well as very nice paved walking trails through the resort. A boat comes with each cabin rental (no motor, but can be rented) and also has other boats for rent (pontoons). For winter months, if you enjoy snowmobiling or cross country skiing, it has direct access to one of the many trails in the area. Also, good to know, you do not need to be a veteran of our military to stay here - you just need to have a vet in your family.

Lastly, the staff was very friendly and show great pride in their resort. This is an older resort that requires a lot of TLC, but the staff obviously care for the buildings and the grounds in a meticulous manner.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
6 Thank SandyToesMinnesota
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Veterans On The Lake Resort

Property: Veterans On The Lake Resort
Address: 161 Fernberg Road, Ely, MN 55731-9346
Region: United States > Minnesota > Ely
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 35 Speciality Lodging in Ely
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 26
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to our Ely, Minnesota Resort. Here you can swim, boat, fish, and participate in hundreds of other activities. We offer Free Wi-Fi in the lodge, heated outdoor pool, camp fire rings, Finnish sauna and also we have RV sites for your convenience. ... more   less 

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