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“Best Family Vacation Ever”

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Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
NYC
Level Contributor
33 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Best Family Vacation Ever”
Reviewed 23 January 2009

OK, let me admit the few negatives first:
- yes, the prior reviewer is right, they do cater to returning guests a bit
- the childrens program is a bit unstructured if your child is not independent (say 8 years old or else a very independent 6-7)
- the rooms are only so-so
- the bees overwhelm the outdoor eating area, and you really have to eat inside
- it is expensive like you wouldn't believe

So why do I still say it was the best vacation ever?
1) First and foremost, the people. I don't know how they hired such consistently nice people, but they are amazing. They make sure you are doing what you want all the time & having a blast doing it. Normally, we like to hike on your own, but here we took the guided hike and we instantly became friends with the hike leader & her dog. I just can't stress it enough - they go out of their way to make you happy.
2) The riding is fantastic. Great for all levels. From lessons in the corral to trotting the trails at night. Wildlife (we saw elk, bears, wild turkeys, deer).
3) The lake is a great second attraction. It is rare for a dude ranch to also have a lake. There is sailing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming (and diving off a tower), waveboarding, waterskiing, etc.
4) The heated pool is great for relaxing while the kids play.
5) There are a lot of kids. Your kids will have playmates and a great time. The wranglers are great with kids. There is a junior-wranglers program (where they have a blast mucking stalls for free - ha!). There are also arts & crafts several times per day, a kids fishing pond, bikes, tennis, etc.
6) The dogs. OK, if you don't like em you can avoid em, but if you do like them, they are a blast too. There are like 5 dogs of varying breeds and they are all super-friendly with kids.
7) The food - excellent for this type of vacation. You can sit in the adult area and have a somewhat more formal meal or sit in the kids/family area and be totally informal. There are always choices so we never had a problem even though we are picky. You can eat with your kids or they can eat on their own with other kids.
8) Proximity to Glacier National Park. Basically, you are not in the middle of nowhere. You can drive like 10 minutes to Big Fork, a nice touristy town, for an afternoon or drive like 40 minutes to GNP which is absolutely beautiful.

I am sure I am forgetting something, but you get the idea. We left there with a new glow and an obsession (especially our 6-year-old daughter, who trotted for the first time - with helmet) to return. It seriously was our best family vacation ever - better than Disney at the high-end resort, better than Atlantis, etc.

  • Liked — The staff & the location
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed August 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank krakor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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63 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (20)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 May 2008

We love ranches and have travelled to many. Our basic problem here was....we were not returning visitors...there appears to be a pecking order...first time visitors get teeny little rooms, whereas as you work your way up, you get individual cabins.

We couldn't even have our kids in the room with us...they had to have a separate little room. I wonder how I would have viewed the ranch had I had a reasonable room.

There are some Wonderful aspects of the ranch...the absolute highlight is the week's-end family rodeo where all the family members participate. There is free water-skiiing with instruction, and it was absolutely a delight to see our daughter finally manage to ski for the first time in her life. Our daughter loved the ranch.

We were a bit surprised, sort of expected the Glacier Lake experience, but this is a very flat piece of property on a generic Lake.

There were a number of negatives. I found the food very very boring. The days were ate outside were generic K-mart picnics. I don't remember one memorable meal, though the ranch was obviously proud of their food.

I was stunned that in a beautiful state like this, the horse riding was done on flat, DUSTY trails, sort of like riding in circles on the flatlands. I was hoping for the clean Mountain air experience, but got the dusty hot flatland experience.

There is a town in walking distance, where we snuck to get some nice meals.

I can see how returning visitors DO like the ranch....once you learn the particular ropes here, and make SURE you have a cabin reserved, and are prepared for the differences in riding...it is possible to have fun here....more as a lake vacation than a ranch vacation. The rodeo was awesome however, and fun to see you kid in absolute delight. They have professional photographers who take some of the most awesome photos during the rodeo....the one of my daughter became her high school yearbook photo.

This is the sort of place you can take teens and their friends, and relax and not see them for a week in comfort.....if only we had a nice room for the old folks to stay in.

If I go back....I'll remember......make SURE to have a cabin or don't go.

  • Liked — Family rodeo
  • Disliked — postage stamp room, food
  • Stayed June 2003, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
15 Thank LTownsendMD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lexington, Kentucky
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 November 2007

Flathead Lake Lodge holds a very special place in my life. My family has been going there ever since i was a little kid, three to be exact. Last year was my 12th year to go. When you stay at the lodge, you make friends that you will keep for a lifetime. The overall quality of the stay is phenomenal. The workers run a shuttle back and forth from the airport on sundays to pick up and drop off guests from the airport, bringing convenience in the aspect of transportation, eliminating the need for a rental car. The beauty about this place is that it is family friendly. As one will notice upon their stay here, people of all ages continue to come every year. The activities guaged for younger kids include kids trail rides on calm horses with experienced "wranglers," arts and crafts, playing down by the waterfront under the careful watch of lifeguards, playing in the sand box, swimming in the heated pool, ice cream runs aboard one of the lodge's 3 antique fire engines, the kids rodeo, and various other activities. Some activities aimed more for teens or even adults include wakeboarding either at the lodge or lessons with wakeboarding professionals at Echo Lake, a short 10 minute drive from the lodge, kayaking, horseback rides, breakfast rides up to the side of the mountain, mountain biking, swimming in the heated pool, fishing in the pond, flyfishing in one of the nearby rivers, inflatable tube float trips arranged by the lodge, massages, and simply relaxing. There is an obvious theme when you arrive at the lodge, simplicity. Be ready to drop all of your troubles and worries at the gate when you enter, because one can relax under the open Montana sky to relieve stress, or keep yourself busy partaking in all of the activities the lodge has to offer, ensuring that everyone has a good time. Consider this amazing place for your next summer vacation. I promise, you won't regret it.

  • Liked — Everything
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed July 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
7 Thank JimOswalt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 20 July 2005

We just finished our 16th consecutive year of vacationing at Flathead Lake Lodge. For the first eight of those years we vacationed for just one week. During that time, we found that seven days was just not enough time to benefit from all that the Lodge has to offer. Since then, we added another week to our stay and now spend two weeks each summer residing at the Lodge. The Lodge offers what we believe to be a unique experience, one that has allowed my wife and me, as well as our children, to enjoy ourselves in ways not offered by any other type of vacation.

In our view, the Lodge combines outstanding service, a breathtaking setting on the shores of Flathead Lake, with an extraordinarily large number of outdoor activities, including tennis, golf, fly fishing, sailing, guided hiking, mountain biking, children's arts and crafts, water-skiing, windsurfing, lake cruises, swimming, volleyball and – of course – horseback riding. All of these activities are offered within a very high-service, yet laid-back and relaxing environment. These ingredients have led us, as well as many others, to return year after year. As a result, one of the unintended consequences is that both my wife and I, as well as our children, have developed deep and lifelong friendships with the other families that also return year after year. We seem to all share the same objective of spending high quality time with our families in a relatively unstructured, yet very active environment.

Frankly, our 16 years is short relative to many others who have come before us since the ranch opened in 1945. Each year we have such an outstanding time that we wonder how we can ever enjoy it as much again, but somehow each year’s experience becomes richer than the previous one. I guess the best way to put it is that it is the only “resort” I have ever been in where there are hugs with other guests and staff members, and tears in the eyes of many as they leave.

It is truly a very special place.

  • Stayed July 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tennessee
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 July 2005

Our family looked forward to this vacation for nearly a year. We were horribly disappointed to find our cabin dirty with soiled carpet, a thick layer of dust on the furniture, worn bedclothes and a leaky tub faucet that management was unable to repair. The horses were unhealthy. They had dull, ragged coats and were obviously stressed. Many of the animals had a constant hacking cough. Safety was not stressed in the riding program. We could hear the sounds of traffic throughout our entire trail ride and had to cross a busy two lane highway to reach the trails. People were allowed to ride in shorts and sandals! Safety supervision of children was inadequate. After one day my family decided to cut our losses and leave. The ranch had a mobil four star rating but we can only surmise that mobil has not been there in awhile.

  • Stayed June 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
16 Thank docmarmar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, General Manager at Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge, responded to this review, 28 July 2005
I am terribly disappointed in this review considering the individual only stayed at the Lodge for a couple of hours. They did not particpate in any of activities and did not eat any meals. At no time did the individual express any displeasure with our accommodations, staff or riding program. They expressed to me that they were looking for a wilderness experience and were experienced riders. They didn't go out on an adult ride and couldn't in any way evaluate our riding program in an objective manner. Flathead Lake Lodge has a return rate of over 65% and has been a Mobil Four Star Resort for over 10 years. Mobil personally visits our facility every season for rating purposes. Flathead Lake Lodge offers weekly family vacations all inclusive of meals, accommodations and recreation. I find it hard to believe that you could write an objective review on a weekly vacation after two hours.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 3 November 2002

We have been vacationing at Flathead Lake Lodge for 8 summers. This is the best family vacation spot we've found in a beautiful setting near Glacier National Park. The ranch offers daily activities for all ages such as horseback riding, swimming in the lake or heated pool, tennis, hiking, fly fishing, sailing or just relaxing on a bench overlooking the Flathead Lake. A short walk into Bigfork is always fun for shopping at the local boutiques and art galleries or lunch at the many restaurants downtown. A day trip into Glacier is a must !!! Our two children have grown up at the ranch and still love going back every summer.
Don't expect a dusty ranch. It's a lush, green and beautiful property on a huge lake with the mountains directly behind. The food is good and the staff is very friendly. The cabins are comfortable, but rustic.
Many guests return year after year like our family. It has been fun spending one week with them back at the ranch each summer and creating lasting summer memories.
Overall, an expensive vacation but well worth the money.

Helpful?
12 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge

Property: Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge
Address: Box 248, Bigfork, MT 59911-0248
Region: United States > Montana > Bigfork
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Speciality Lodging in Bigfork
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Number of rooms: 46
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Flathead Lake Lodge is a third generation Dude Ranch located in Montana on Flathead Lake. The Lodge offers unlimited horse & water activities and is only 35 miles from Glacier National Park. Your family will enjoy a rustic ranch atmosphere, endless activities, and unmatched hospitality by the Averill family and staff. Recreation includes a complete horse program, sailing, fly fishing, water sports, hiking, cookouts, camp fires, and a family barn dance to name a few. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Averill`s Flathead Lake Hotel Bigfork
Averill's Flathead Lake Lodge Montana/Bigfork

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