My family and I traveled to Mountain Lake Lodge to spend a week late last month (June 2014). The resort has amazing potential but, sadly, falls very short of reaching it.
I'm somewhat conflicted on whether to go in to the problems we had during our stay simply because, in the end, the management made things right. I hope they make it through their "transition" phase of new management and renovations otherwise this amazing property is going to disappear. The vast majority of the staff needs to go. I'm all about supporting locals and local establishments but it seems that the area folk are extremely lacking when it comes to simple things such as cleaning and customer service (having said that a few good standouts: The entire staff of Outfitters especially Jess and Amanda whom we had the most interactions with, the guys at Treetops, and the staff at Harvest who despite being clearly understaffed and undertrained with NO apparent supervision, did their best to accomodate us during our week).
There doesn't seem to be any follow through: our cabin (the "famous" one and, based on the prices other people were paying to stay there, the most expensive one) was barely, barely cleaned the entire week and then a very poor excuse was provided, we never saw any management in the restaurant/bar area, the TV room in the lodge was filthy, filthy, filthy and NEVER cleaned the entire time we were there, and trash in the laundry room sat for four days. Its little attention to detail items that are going to drive this place out of business and, I know the GM is new, but she needs to hire some additional managers that hold people accountable ASAP. When our cabin was eventually vaccuumed on day 6 (yes, you read that right), we were told by the staff member that the other cleaning staff refused to come out to the cabins to clean. Come again?? There visible signs of wear around the property which are not huge issues to fix: trees infringing on staircases, worn out signs, informative papers being sundamaged and waterlogged (i.e. the story of the Lake stand and the towel sign in the pool area), trash and other items laying around (you had a wedding on Saturday....why are the tables, chairs, and other debris still apparent on Sunday and Monday??). Little things, yes, but easily fixed with some followup and backbone and given the cost of a stay should NOT be apparent.
I will agree with people that MLL is overpriced. In addition to the above staff issues they clearly need a Marketing person. Their website is misleading as it bills itself as a "summer camp" type of resort with many activities and a lake that fills as the season progresses. None of that is true. There were barely any organized activities for the kids (one in the afternoon on a handful of the days we were there) and the lake, a fascinating natural mystery, is anything BUT filling. That, coupled with the attention to detail issues, lends itself to reducing your prices until you can build yourself back up to your former premium price days. Lastly, if you are staying in either the Florida or Virginia cabin you should be provided a golf cart on checkin to move your items from your vehicle. There is no immediate parking and its a decent walk if you're hauling items for a family of six.
Now, if you can ignore some of the above minute details and you can get a great deal on the price (which, frankly I found out many people did by booking last minute....we seemingly got screwed by booking far in advance) I'd still say "Go for it" and here's why: The property is gorgeous, the trail system is awesome, the mountain air is clean, there's enough of a pond to spend a small amount of time kayaking or canoeing, there's a pool/hot tub, and the food is great. There is a Ziplining course, a Disc-golf course (on the old REAL golf course which has breathtaking views and the ruins of the old clubhouse), and abundant wildlife.
My wife and I would like to try MLL again but its guaranteed to be a final visit if the attention to detail issues aren't resolved and if they can't figure out a way to either reduce their prices or get more value out of what is charged.
I have no idea whether the management reads TripAdvisor but they have real opportunity in their grasp which I hope they don't squander. Best tips: Fire your current local staff and have some Europeans come in, hire an activities director (or put someone in charge of getting people together), change your name to Mountain Lodge and stop trying to bank off the lake (instead HIGHLIGHT its mystery on your website as opposed to duping prospective customers), and get people to follow up on attention to detail issues.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The newly renovated historic Mountain Lake Lodge features 43 Rooms in Main Stone Lodge, 16 in Chestnut Lodge, 9 Mountain Homes in Blueberry Ridge, 8 historic rustic cabins and 9 Front Lawn Cottages on 2,600 acres of preserved mountaintop property owned by the Mary Moody Northen Endowment. Mountain Lake Conservancy, a non-profit organization founded in 1989, serves to protect the land and wildlife resources on the property for future generations. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mountain Lake Pembroke
- Hotel Mountain Lake
- Mountain Lake Lodge Virginia/Pembroke