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“Great location but lodge in need of update and attention to service”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of Glacier Bay Lodge

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Glacier Bay Lodge
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Gustavus
Minneapolis
Level Contributor
143 reviews
83 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 176 helpful votes
“Great location but lodge in need of update and attention to service”
Reviewed 17 August 2014

The challenge with this property is that it has no competition. While there are some small inns in Gustavus (and I'd probably recommend them over the lodge for sleeping comfort and food), the lodge is the only location on the water, in the park. Aramark has no NEED to do anything to get business or do much to ensure guest satisfaction since few will return and future guests will make much the same choices between comfort and location. Although the local inns seem more expensive, once you include food, transportation, service and amenities it is probably closely priced.

Location - as others have written, the location is terrific - right in the park and up by the water. The nature element of lodge property itself feels a bit overgrown - beware of rooms saying they have a bay view - most have trees grown up in front. Nice nature trails around the lodge and down to the water with a nice interpretive trail.

Check-In - Inefficient. The lodges computer systems, like the lodge itself, probably date back to the late 70's so check in is slow and retrieving information is painful. We were not given our breakfast vouchers as the printer wasn't working and were checked in to the wrong type of accomodation - not a bay view room as we had booked. We chose not to switch and were credited the difference in price. Friendly front desk staff but felt like management/professionalism felt absent - lots of "stumbling" to get things together.

Lodging - The main areas are in need of modernization - more efficient common seating areas, electrical outlets and updated wireless would be nice improvements. There is a NPS outpost on the 2nd floor with information on the area which is informative and helpful. The sleeping accomodations are individual buildings holidng 2-3 rooms which themselves are a throwback to the 70's. The rooms are tired with all-purpose carpeting, beds featuring minimal mattresses, polyester bedspreads and tired linens and bathrooms with dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and bath gel that were all empty. (Photos attached). Lighting was OK and each room did have it's own coffee maker. For the $ charged I would rate this a one star. Housekeeping came very late in the day. As with other Aramark lodges - you are paying for the privilege of being in the park not for the quality of the lodging.

Restaurant - like the lodging - typical Aramark - nothing fancy and relatively pricey for what you get. They don't have to be good because there is only one dining option on-site and guests are usually only there for 1-2 meals. Several key items were out of stock during our stay including basics like bagels & a pork tenderloin entree. Our server Christian was good natured, helpful and attentive - as were most of the servers we encountered. We had one small challenge not getting our breakfast vouchers when we checked in so we mistakenly paid for a breakfast which the restaurant manager Michael took care of by crediting a later meal.

Excursions/Gift Shop - these are concessions and not operated by the lodge. Glacier Bay Boat trip is pricey but worth it to see these incredible works of nature along with a wide variety of animal life. (See separate review). We booked but didn't take a kayak excursion but heard from others that it was nice for a half day, but a bit long for the full day. Gift shop is stocked with snack items, some camping supplies and souvenirs. You can also rent bicycles ($25/half day) to get into "town"

Campground/Other facilitites - The park also has a walk in campground which was very lightly used while we were there and laundry and restroom facilities at the lodge.

Room Tip: Don't shell out extra for Bay View - most rooms views are blocked by grown up trees.
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sailorgirlmn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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202 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 August 2014 via mobile

You come here once in your life, and you probably stay for two nights.
I arrived at noon on the ferry. At 2, I joined a 90 minute ranger hike; at 4, I viewed the movie; at 5 a brief talk @ whales; at 6, a 20 minute talk by a Tlinget native - followed by a 40 minute q and a with 8 guests; at 7 the evening ranger program; at7:45 dinner at our reserved table. Next morning, we walked to the dock for the all day boat trip - everyone else came by van or minibus. That night, another evening ranger program. Third day, 2 1/2 hour morning guided walk w/ranger. After lunch, trail hike ... Then goodbye.
Try to do that if you stay anywhere else!

A lot of the following is to address previous negative comments ....

About the lodge. It,s 50 years old, open 100 days a year. It,s a typical nat park lodge - rustic, lots of wood, no plastic. We'll maintained. No tv, no wifi - but why did you come here?
The staff is all seasonal , lots of college types, friendly, anxious to help, but not always professional (remember, these are the same kids who leave two
week,s worth of underwear on their bedroom floor).

The rooms are spacious, rough sawn wood walls, carpet clean, as is small bath. Each room has a queen and a twin. We never unpack for a two night stay, so the twin provided an ample "closet"
The rooms are in separate modules of 4 units or so, connected to the lodge by open boardwalks. We had a " view" room. Didn't ask or pay extra for it. 50 years of tree growth have obscured the views .... ( the park service doesn't chop down trees to provide room views).
The prices are NOT high - Alaska Has the highest col in the us, and dining room prices were comparable to every place we visited in AK.

The dining - of course the menu doesn't change. You,re only here two nights, in the middle of a national forest! The halibut dinner was the best I have ever eaten. Breakfast is buffet only; they could never serve a la carte and get the mob to the boat on time. Reserve a table for dinner, or prepare to wait.
There is only a service bar, but you can drink in the dining room or the lobby, with it,s gas (can anyone guess why? ) fireplace.

Like I said, why would you stay anyplace else?

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank jkwhimsey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Level Contributor
36 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 August 2014

I stayed for 2 nights at the glacier bay lodge. You have got a very nice view from the lobby/restaurant on the bay. The view from my room however was mainly on trees and other cabins. I liked that the room was spacious. Unfortunately housekeeping does not seem to do a very good job. There was still a lot of hair from previous guests in the bathroom. There was even an used bend-aid (plus hair) in the drain of the tub, yuck.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank mimion2ur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 August 2014

Stayed there 2 nights in the end of July. It's in a very rural location. Hotel was nice, close to the bay, hiking trails, and a great boat tour. Food was not bad, however since it's so rural, you have to eat breakfast lunch and dinner here, because there is no other place to get it. Customer service was strange. Sometimes the front desk people were very helpful, and sometimes they seemed clueless. On our last day, we had a flight out at 5:08 pm. They scheduled us to take the last shuttle to the airport at 345. Bus driver was late! He ended up getting us (and 25 other guests) to the airport at about 445. We all rushed in, and Alaska airlines refused to let us on the plane, because we hadn't checked in 40 min ahead of time. Given the fact that there is not Internet in this town at all, there was no way to! Alaska air was firm on not letting us in the plane, and told us we needed to find a place to stay for the night ( they also mentioned that the hotel has done this before, and knows to bring people early to the airport!!)The hotel was not interested in the problem and did not in any way help us out. This was annoying because it was their fault! So word of advice: take an early shuttle to airport!

  • Stayed July 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Homewood415
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lincoln, Nebraska
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2014

We were quite disappointed when we visited Glacier Bay Lodge. I was told when I booked our package that meals were included. When we arrived, we were told they were not. They did give us vouchers for breakfast. There was only one restaurant and the first night we ate there, at both the table next to us and our table the bills presented were not correct - example: the crab cake starter I ordered was $13.95 and came back on the bill at $32.00. It was corrected but it took the table next to us, three tries to get their bill right. Housekeeping left a lot to be desired - when we arrived there were cleaning supplies left on the bathroom counter in our room and the next day the room was not cleaned at all. We were early in the season - second weekend they were open - and it felt like they were not ready. The people at the front desk were trying and everyone was friendly but it appeared that there really was not a competent manager in charge.

It's a beautiful location - I hope they get their act together.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Marlene B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Port Townsend, Washington
Level Contributor
221 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2014

The main lodge is very nice and the lobby is welcoming and cozy. The restaurant is adequate and the service is friendly and accommodating. Rooms are good-sized, clean, quiet, and adequately appointed. And pif course, the location is stunningly beautiful. But it is the mattress from hell. The mattress is so bad, it is hard to even comfortably lay down with a book for a half hour in between activities. I wish there were some real competition to pressure the Lodge to a higher standard.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ccmccall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
Level Contributor
51 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 August 2014

I loved the lodge and would go back at the drop of a hat. I'm from California, where you have to fight crowds in the parks. There are very few places this beautiful that you can get to without backpacking where you can enjoy the degree of isolation I found at Glacier Bay. Most of the time I had the trails to myself, or saw someone else very occasionally.

I am a little surprised by some of the bad reviews. Perhaps these were written by people who are used to Hiltons instead of park lodges. I've stayed at several, and this was better than most of them. The walls were thick enough that you couldn't hear much noise from your neighbor. There was always a place to sit in the lobby or on the deck. The rooms were large (I'm a claustrophobe) and as clean as can be expected at a place that caters to hikers with muddy boots. The food was decent and not at all out of line either for Alaska or for a park lodge. Yes, they occasionally ran out of halibut, but they get their food from Juneau and the plane doesn't always make it to Gustavus.

Here are a couple of tips I got from trip advisor reviews that were very helpful:

The internet is indeed very slow. I was only able to connect about a third of the times I tried. If you really need to check your email, consider buying a phone card and calling a friend at home to read it to you.

Take the boat trip on a day other than the one the day after the ferry arrives from Juneau. There were a lot fewer people. (Whatever you do, take the boat trip)

Make reservations for dinner ahead of time. We arrived on the afternoon flight and were glad to have called ahead. That said, I don't understand what it is that people don't understand about reservations. They have a small staff and were very good about staggering the seatings. They don't have the capacity to deal with everyone eating at once. If you can't get a time you like, you can always order off the bar menu on the terrace. It includes the burgers (I didn't try them but they looked good) and the wonderful fish and chips.

Unless you need a hearty breakfast, you don't need to eat before the boat trip. They give you coffee and doughnuts as soon as you start off.

Here are a few corrections to things I read on trip advisor that weren't accurate:

I saw no free bikes. There was a sign at the front desk offering bike rentals.

There is a breakfast menu in addition to the buffet.

As mentioned before, you can eat on the terrace without reservations.

The staff was absolutely lovely, if not always well-informed.

There was no charge for the shuttle. There is a schedule (posted at the front desk) and they seemed to stick to it. Some of the shuttles were full, so if you have to be at the airport at a certain time, make sure you reserve a spot on the appropriate van. Also, call ahead of time and let them know when your flight arrives.

There is a lot that Aramark does wrong. Whoever is in charge of ordering supplies for the store should be fired. How can they justify running out of bear spray and bottled water? I don't mind them running low on perishables - I don't want to eat really old fish, but water? And they shouldn't bill the tree view rooms as bay view. I disagree with the people who want the trees trimmed. That seems inappropriate in a national park. You can easily walk down to the bay (about 30 feet from our room) and get a bay view, but they shouldn't call the rooms something that they aren't.

Overall, it was one of the better vacations I've ever had. It was peaceful and beautiful. The whales weren't in the cove during our stay, but there were plenty of sea otters and birds. I thought the price was very reasonable for a remote location in Alaska. If you want a luxe spot with gourmet food to use as a jumping off place for the cruise, it probably isn't the right place for you. If you don't mind a little rusticity and love nature, you can't do much better.

Room Tip: I liked room 15. It was relatively close to the main lodge, but only about 30 feet to the shore.
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank louxx
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

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Glacier Bay Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 48
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Glacier Bay Hotel Gustavus
Glacier Bay Lodge Gustavus, Alaska

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