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“Beautiful setting.”
Review of Glacier Bay Lodge

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Glacier Bay Lodge
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Gustavus
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 6 July 2014

I gave this 4 stars mainly because the grounds and the scenery were magnificent. The restaurant was good but pricey. They have a buffet breakfast each morning for $13.99 and it was NOT good. The pancakes could not even be cut with my knife. My sister wrote an earlier review about our rollaway bed experience! I cannot believe they even brought that to our room! I fell right through the huge hole in the middle! If you decide to stay here be prepared to haul luggage up and down numerous stairs. Overall we really did like it there and would probably stay again.......the views are just magnificent. I also cannot write a review without mentioning Mike, who worked in the kitchen. He was extremely nice to us and went out of his way to always make sure we were being taken care of.

Stayed: June 2014
Thank 548debbiep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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115 - 121 of 231 reviews

Reviewed 6 July 2014

This lodge is exactly what I expected from a lodge located in a National Park and operated by private firm under contract to the National Park Service.

Grand Views and Beautiful Location

As you might expect, the lodge has absolutely stunning views of Glacier Bay and the the surrounding woods. It has the rustic feeling (wood beams, wooden boardwalks, high ceilings, etc) that I expected. Looking out from the main building of the lodge, the bay lies before you and with a little patience you see whales--spouting, leaping out of the water, etc. And the operator provides a few binoculars on tables in the grand room--in case you don't have your own.

The operator also provides a shuttle to/from airport that although it is "Blue Jay" school bus, it is completely functional and is probably more reliable (in term of schedule) and certainly less expense (free) than the local taxi. As I rode on the shuttle to airport, I heard the driver radio to inn to arrange to have a couple that gone for a hike picked on the road to the lodge since it had begun to rain heavily. A nice touch I thought. Indeed, all of the staff were nice, offered help, etc.

Downsides

Although I questioned my own sanity, I did try to use the wi-fi network in the lodge. I did not add even more traffic to the network so I did not do a speed test but slow is only description. Certainly, it would have been nice if the wi-fi service extended to the rooms but for a destination resort, I have to understand that wi-fi is not a priority.

Speaking of the rooms, do not rely on the description of a room being a "view room". I had a view room (#32) and my view was mostly of trees. The "view" was not blocked by trees was blocked by the row of cottages between my room and the bay. I suspect the folks in those cottages had a nice view. The rooms are relatively spartan and clean.

I came to lodge after a kayaking trip that had me sleeping on the beach, so the beds were more comfortable than a sleeping bag and mat--the pillows were awful. Although I know it is cost effective, I disliked the liquid soap, shampoo, etc dispensers in the shower and sink area. The soap dispenser in the sink area was empty when I got to the room.

RIPOFF ALERT!

Do not use the "CALL-ATT" long distance service from the lodge unless it is absolutely an emergency. I was charged $35.00 by ATT for a 15-minute call to Washington, DC.

Room Tip: Do not assume that "view rooms" have a view. Ask questions.
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled solo
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Thank clrWashngton_DC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 July 2014

We enjoyed our time at the Lodge and were thrilled that we could the whales from the dining room. It was quite an experience. They even had binoculars at each table for you to watch the action in the bay. Outside you could also hear them which was wonderful. We did not know that their would be so many stairs to reach our room. My sister was the one handling the luggage since my cousin and myself had had recent sugeries. It was a real hassle for her to get all the luggage for all three of us down there. Had we known, we would have booked a handicap room which is on the upper level. The food is a little pricey, but there is nowhere else to go to eat that is close by. We got a rollaway for our room and it had springs missing and a huge hole so that my sister fell clear through to the floor. She slept on the mattress on the floor for the time we were there. She left a note on the springs advising them that it should not be used in the future. Rob, the guy who gave us our shuttle to and from the airport was the greatest. He even suggested seeing an area that had a boardwalk (and short walk since we couldn't go too far) that was absolutely beautiful. We had no idea it was located across the road from the lodge. A must see if you go. Overall, the place is in a beautiful setting and the staff are friendly and the room was clean and suited us all well. We did enjoy our stay, especially since we went on the Glacier Bay cruise, which we recommend. Lots of whales, otters, seals. Great, relaxing and the captain of the boat called the hotel to assure us of a van to meet us after we got off the boat so we didn't have to try to hike it up the ramp when we got back. All the people on the boat are so nice!!! Thanks for a wonderful time.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Rosemary M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 June 2014

I came here definitely not expecting the hyatt. But I did expect a bed that wasn't broken and completely sagging. I knew the accomodations were going to be Spartan, but I thought I wouldn't be lopsided in bed. The internet in the lobby must have been AOL on dial up. I couldn't get my email to download before it would time out. Since I have family who is having some health issues, I was hopeful this communication link would be available since I knew there would be no cell phone during our visit. On our first night we were seated for dinner 30 minutes after they started dinner seating, I tried to order salmon, they came back later to say the last one had just been sold. Are you kidding me? This is SE Alaska during salmon season, how can you run out that early in the night?

The bay and wildlife are magnificent, having the resource of park rangers to take nature walks with was awesome. One of the rangers told us that Aramark didn't want to make the renovations because the lodge was a money loser and that the lodge is in danger of closing. If this was in any other location I'd have given it a one instead of a 3. I was glad to be sleeping in Juneau the night after we left.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Rob S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2014

Barlett Cove is an amazing, marine-life rich location. The Lodge in isolation would only receive 3 stars but when combine with a 5 star location, warrants 4 stars.

Upon checking in with the amazing David S., we looked out of the windows overlooking the cove and immediately saw two humpback whales! A mother and her calf fed in the cove and were in view all five days we stayed at the Lodge. At times other whales joined in the feeding and their blows could be heard throughout the day and evenings. Other marine life within easy view were Harbor porpoises and river otters. occasionaly seals. We rented a kayak a few yards from the Lodge which was magical given the whales that kept swimming by and embarked on a full day glacier/wildlife cruise a short walking distance from the Lodge. We hiked various trails immediately outside the Lodge and saw a juvenile moose prancing on the beach, a male dusky grouse presenting, six Barrow's Goldeneye chicks following their mother, bald eagles, red squirrels and evidence of black bears but no close encounters.

The room was adequate with a comfortable bed, heating that we used only once, a great view of the cove, and plenty of hot water. Storage for clothing was minimal, with only two tiny desk drawers and no bureau. Only a few hangers served as any type of clothes storage which is inadequate. If we want to live out of our suitcases, we would stay in a hostel, hotel management! A chest of drawers would be so much more useful than a desk with two tiny stationery drawers. We did not spend much time in our room other than cleaning up and sleeping, so it was not a big issue for us by might be for others.

Be ready to schlep your luggage up and down multiple sets of wooden stairs as only a few room are accessible rooms. No help was offered to us in virtually any respect regarding our luggage. I prefer to carry my own luggage anyway, but it was still a surprise not to be offerered help, especially considering we were two middle-aged female travellers.

The main issue with the Lodge is meals. You have no refrigerator or means of heating food, so you have three options as of our stay in June 2014. 1) Bring your own food and an ice chest and only have cold foods; 2) try to coordinate getting in and out of Gustavus, which has a couple cafes and deli, using the complimentary hotel shuttle that only makes runs to pick up/drop off guest at the airport and ferry dock or hire a taxi; or 3) eat at the Lodge. We were able to use the complimentary shuttle for one trip into town and had GREAT lattes at Fireside, then a hearty breakfast at Clove Hitch, and bought sandwiches for a later hike at Sunnyside Market that were yummy.

So most of our meals were eaten at the Lodge, which was a spotty experience. First off, the breakfast was limited to one option, a buffet, and it was AWEFUL. We were there at the tail end and everything was dried out. And it is not cheap. With tip and tax, expect to pay $35 for two for a terrible breakfast. We never ate there again for breakfast and simply snacked on nuts and dried fruit from then on if at the Lodge. Being we stayed a the beginning of the season, we were served by newly trained staff, which was also a spotty experience. We were served by Mandy several times, and she was a joy! The other staff members that served us were not especially attentive or personable and very S-L-O-W. The fresh fish items, the salmon and halibut, were quite good. The soups were hit and miss. The spicy chili was great, the Mediterranean was meh, the salmon chowder was decent. The caesar salad was an aweful watery mess but the mixed green salad was decent. There is no informal service to get a coffee, ala carte breakfast items (non-existent) or any ala carte items at all, or an alcoholic beverage. You are limited to dining room service or outside deck service, all very slow and inattentive other than Mandy. Lackluster for the most part and unacceptable given most guests will be a captive audience. Also, they ran out of items that seemed to bother the other guests, likes fries and hamburger buns, but did not affect us. News of the Lodge's ordering woes traveled to town and were mentioned by the locals, which was funny.

However, the location CANNOT BE BEAT. You are most likely staying in the park to experience the park, and this is the best (and only) place to stay in a hotel in the park. Aramark needs to tighen up serving staff and provide OPTIONS for grab and go items. My understanding is that the buffet breakfast was not permitted by the park system yet still that was all that was available to we captive guests. Shame on you Aramark! We want to have coffee and breakfast on the go, grab a sack lunch to throw in the backpack to get into the park and you did not deliver in that respect. The refrigerated counter at the front desk was not functioning, and, therefore, no ala carte items. Really? Then make the items available through your kitchen. It's not that hard, it just requires coming up with an alternative and not just throwing your hands up in the air when one piece of equipment is not repaired in the weeks/months you had to repair it. You made that part of our stay, meals, frequently unenjoyable.

Room Tip: A room with a view of the cove is great, especially one on the end like we had, room 21 I believe.
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank spowellakasw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 June 2014

We spent 5 nights here in early June. Everyone we met was friendly and accommodating –the driver who greeted us at the airport, the front desk staff, and the servers at restaurant. The rooms are clean and basic but perfectly fine for a national park setting (our room has 1 queen bed and 2 twin beds, phone and coffee maker, no TV). There is a fire place in the lobby where guests can relax or use WiFi. And I agree with the other review – you don’t come to Glacier Bay for 5 star hotels. Instead enjoy yourself in the middle of nature and the unbelievable scenery.
The location is superb sitting right by Bartlett Cove. Every night we took a walk along the beach. We saw abundant of wild lives – whales, dolphins, bold eagles, sandhill cranes, and other birds we can’t name.
The onsite restaurant deserves its own review. The foods we had there are better than plenty of high priced restaurants we have been to. Fish & chips, salmon chowder, seafood pasta, Glacier Bay Burger and Fairweather salad are among our favorites. Best of all, both the deck and the dining room have an unobstructed view of the cove. We often see whales cruising along or flipping their tales right from our dinner table!
Some people ask how many days they should spend in Glacier Bay. IMHO one needs a minimum of 3 full days to explore what GB has to offer – take a boat day trip into Upper Bay where you see the magnificent glaciers; a second day for whale watching or sea kayaking; another day to hike in the nearby rainforest; and then try to drop by the visitor’s center and join one of the many Park Rangers’ programs during your “spare” time. Sure accommodations are expensive here but so are the travel costs to get in and out of Glacier Bay.

Room Tip: There are some stairs getting around the lodge, so request a room closer to the lobby if you don'...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank jy123188
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2014

If you're going to Gustavus for fancy hotels, you shouldn't come at all. Glacier Bay is a beautiful, unspoiled sanctuary for nature, animals, and a few of us adventurist tourists. The lodge's staff could not have been nicer and the food was surprisingly good. Yes, it's still a simple, national park-esque room, but it's all you need: shelter, heat, and a shower.

A few helpful tips:
No cellphones work at all.
Call the lodge and arrange a shuttle to come get you and take you back to the airport in advance of your arrival.

A pleasant stay in a glorious place. My wife and I will be back someday!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Tom P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Glacier Bay Lodge

Address: 179 Barlett Cove, Gustavus, AK 99826
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Alaska > Gustavus
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Gustavus
Price Range: £124 - £131 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Glacier Bay Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 48
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Also Known As:
Glacier Bay Hotel Gustavus
Glacier Bay Lodge Gustavus, Alaska

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