Good morning everyone. Or should I say “here we go again.” Several threads have popped up on TripAdvisor about Grand Canyon hotels, both in park and out of park. Apparently a lot of unfavorable reviews have been posted of late and that has some potential Grand Canyon visitors spooked, such as poster “kylaroy,” who writes:
We will be spending one night in the Grand Canyon BUT – nearly every review talks about how awful Grand Canyon hotels are. I am nervous about this. We have a reservation at the Grand Canyon Plaza Resort. The reviews just make me cringe though. It seems like at this point we will need to just choose the “lesser of the evils” – my question is – which place does that mean we stay? “Clean” is my major requirement when it comes to basics.
Another poster, “Peter-Sharon” has booked the Grand Canyon Squire Inn, a Best Western property recently promoted to “Premier” classification. Yet, he has been monitoring recent reviews and has this to say:
We have this Grand Canyon hotel booked for Feb 2013 but the reviews have not been very complimentary lately. We had looked at staying in the park but decided against it. Basically, if its clean, bug free and safe we are okay. This only concerns me as the reviews were okay when we booked it but mostly are very bad lately.
Here’s the deal folks: every single Grand Canyon hotel has been loved, hated, and everything in between, including – yes, including – the venerated El Tovar Hotel! My motto has always been “one man’s Radisson is another man’s ‘Roach Motel.'” A former Xanterra Director of Sales’ constant credo was “this is a National Park, not a resort.” When it comes to Grand Canyon hotels, or hotels anywhere else in the world, they’re both right.
So when Grand Canyon visitors ask me which Grand Canyon hotel I recommend, here’s what I tell them: I recommend taking whatever’s available that suits your taste and budget, then get on with the rest of your trip planning. Which Grand Canyon hotels you have available to choose from will often depend on how far out you’re planning your trip.
Take “Peter-Sharon:” he is planning his trip for February 2013. February is considered “dead of winter” at the Grand Canyon, and therefore is off-season. Save for Valentine’s Day and President’s Day when there are small spikes in visitation, it’s not that busy around here, so surely this gentleman would be able to choose from other Grand Canyon hotels if he so desired. He might be able to score a discount. That’s the ONLY time of year he’d be able to do so. In the summertime, forget about it.
“kylaroy” on the other hand probably does not have the luxury of choosing. Their visit is weeks away, and what with that being peak visitation season, they will no doubt find that Grand Canyon hotels are sold out. Their best option? Quit quibbling over it and just go. If he/she is willing to put a little “work” into it, maybe they can call Xanterra South Rim LLC (the Grand Canyon park hotel concessionaire) and check on a cancellation. If they are lucky enough to get one, the Canyon Plaza might charge them a nominal cancellation fee but they might find that the privelege of staying at a Grand Canyon hotel inside the park was worth the trouble. It just depends.
So why would Grand Canyon hotel reviews be so unfavorable? Are the Grand Canyon park hotels really that bad? I don’t think so – after all, I used to work there and the housekeeping staff were some of the hardest working people I ever met. I’m sure they still are. I think Trip Advisor Panelist “RedRox” says it best:
Anyone who writes a review about Grand Canyon hotels being awful went there with unreasonable expectations. The Grand Canyon park lodges are highly sought after and generally stay fully booked, year round, and often book as much as a year in advance. You’re not going to a resort. You’re going to the Grand Canyon. The lodges are there for you to sleep in a comfortable place within walking distance to one of the true wonders of the world. For your single night, if you can get a room, any room, inside the park, you should be thrilled to have it.
Another expert panelist, “Detroit Tiger Fan” adds some valuable insight on the Grand Canyon hotel review situation:
First of all, the TripAdvisor hotel review section for the Grand Canyon National Park is a mess which makes it very difficult to get a good understanding of Grand Canyon hotels in the Park. As a Destination Expert, I have to apologize for that but you should know that the Destination Experts as well as regulars have repeatedly tried to have it fixed and failed.
There are 6 Grand Canyon hotels in the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. These are El Tovar, Thunderbird, Kachina, Bright Angel, Maswik and Yapavai. These are where you want to stay. NONE of these are even close to being “awful” unless, I guess, someone’s expectations are for a resort-style hotel a la Las Vegas orScottsdale that are updated every other year. All of the rooms I’ve stayed in have been “clean”.
She speaks from experience being a very frequent Grand Canyon hiker and visitor.
One last thought and we’ll wrap this up: your Grand Canyon vacation is NOT about hanging out in your hotel room. If that’s what you’re doing during the day, then Houston, we have a problem! A Grand Canyon National Park vacation is about enjoying the beauty and majesty that awaits you outside your hotel, and that’s where you should be spending the majority of your time. After all’s said and done, your Grand Canyon hotel room is just a place to sleep after a busy and fulfilling day of sightseeing.
So don’t be picky about your Grand Canyon hotel. “Set it and forget it” as they say in some circles. And no matter how you find your Grand Canyon hotel – good, bad, or ugly – please take the time to post your own review when you return from your Grand Canyon vacation. It helps future travelers to the area immeasurably.
Take a look at this video for more information about Grand Canyon hotels, including gateway communities such as Tusayan, Williams, and Flagstaff: