Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort

Address: 2643 IL 178, Utica, Illinois, 61373, United States | Hotel
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This hotel, located on 2643 IL 178, Utica, is near Starved Rock State Park, August Hill Winery, and August Hill Winery Tasting Room.
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          TravelPod Member ReviewsGrizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort Utica

          Reviewed by dschnotala

          Do not stay here

          Reviewed Jun 19, 2013
          by (1 review) , United States Flag of United States

          If you don't feel like reading this whole review, here are some highlights:
          No hot water, disgusting water at that
          broken water pipe
          unfriendly, arrogant, harassing, unreasonable, small-minded, rude managers
          DO NOT STAY HERE
          Recently my family, friends, and I decided to book a "luxury" cabin at Grizzly Jack's Resort for three days of what was anticipated to be full of fun, good times and adventure. I put "luxury" in quotation marks and you will see why as you read this review.
          When we first arrived, check-in went pretty well. The people at the front desk were nice, and gave us directions to the cabin. Although the cabin was hard to find, we finally found it. We decided to make food, only to find that one of the pots had what looked to be MOLD on it. If it wasn't mold, I don't know what else it was. But, we decided to look past it because we aren't ones to normally complain, and we wanted to just have a good time. Then, we went on to discover that the cabin wasn't even equipped with pans. We were stuck making grilled cheeses and taco meat in pots. Again, this wasn't too big of a deal, so we decided to look past it. But then we turned the water on - and let me tell you that if you smelled it, you wouldn't want to use it for ANYTHING. Not to shower, not to cook with, not to drink. Good thing we brought bottled water, although that didn't solve our shower problem. But, we decided to look past that too and try and have a good time.
          All was going great; we were playing games outside, we were listening to music, and later in the night we were all inside watching the Stanley Cup final game. Then there was a knock on the door, and it was the manager. Apparently, a different cabin in their resort was filled with teenagers that were getting obnoxiously and drinking, so the managers found it necessary to knock on every occupied cabin's door and ask for the chaperone/ the person that had checked in. Well, our chaperone had gone down to the bar that is in the resort to watch the Stanley Cup game, because he wanted to enjoy a drink by himself. They demanded that he come back, so we did as we were told and called him, and he was back within ten minutes. When he got back, they basically told him that he needed to be there every minute of every day because he was the "chaperone". The funny thing is that the managers never cared to ask us for any of our ages or IDs, so they just automatically assumed that we were all under the age of 21 and needed a chaperone, which was not true. But, we complied with their rules because we didn't want to cause any problems. Throughout the rest of the night, the managers came knocking on the door 2 or 3 more times, which I would consider harassment, considering every time they knocked on the door we did as they said and gave them absolutely no issues.
          At about midnight, when we were all getting ready to go to bed, someone in the basement of the cabin heard water running. Thinking that maybe somebody took a shower and left the water running, she got up to go turn it off, only to find that one of the pipes in the laundry room had broken and water was spilling EVERYWHERE. If she hadn't noticed, the whole basement would have been underwater. So we figured out how to turn the water softener off, and configured something to make the water that was spilling out pour into the drain like it was supposed to. We called the front desk immediately, and they told us that they don't have a maintenance staff on call 24/7, which we thought was a little ridiculous considering it is a hotel. So it was either we move all of our stuff and everybody to a different cabin at 1 in the morning, or we wait until 8 am for the maintenance guys to come. Because we were tired and aggravated, we opted to stay and wait for the maintenance guys.
          So, we went to sleep, and at 8 am the maintenance guys came, and fixed the problem. They left, and we all proceeded to go back to bed because we had a late night staying up with the broken water pipe. One girl decided to take a shower, only to find that there was no hot water. This was not due to the broken pipe, because they didn't have anything to do with eachother. The chaperone couldn't sleep, so he went into town to get coffee. At 9 am, there was a hard pounding at the door, waking everybody up and disturbing everybody. We answered the door, and there was the general manager Brett Sullivan and another manager Ryan Greaves, demanding to know where the chaperone was. Not only did we not get an apology for the broken pipe or an apology for pounding on the door at 9 am, they were rude. They asked us to get the chaperone back here within 10 minutes. So naturally, our chaperone sped into the parking lot because he wanted to get back as soon as he could to find out what the managers wanted. As soon as he got out of the car, the managers yelled at him for speeding into the lot, even though they were the ones that told us to get him back within 10 minutes. So, they then proceeded to tell us that it would be best for us to leave, even though we did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to get "kicked out" of this "luxury" cabin. Then, they told us we had until 9:45 to get out (it was about 9:15 when they said this) or they were calling the police. Fed up and annoyed, we were HAPPY to leave. So we gathered all of our stuff, hoping we didn't forget anything considering we were given 30 minutes to get 18 people out of a cabin, and left.
          The chaperone went to the lobby to check out, and was told that was we would get our security deposit back and that we would be refunded for the second night. Wanting it in writing, the lady at the front desk told us she couldn't confirm that was true until she got authorization from the managers that were pounding on our door at 9 am. Wanting to leave because we were so aggravated, we told her to have them call us if they weren't giving us the money back. So on the way home, we received a phone call that we would not be getting a refund of $850 for the second night because we "were asked to leave" even though we did nothing for them to ask us to leave. Then they told us we would not be getting our $1,000 security deposit back. Then they even had the nerve to tell us that one of us must have kicked the water pipe and that's how it broke, because "they don't just break on their own". After arguing back and forth, they said they would let us know how much money from the security deposit we would get back, if any at all, after they shampooed the rugs.
          I normally wouldn't take the time out of my day to write a negative review about a place, but I think it was necessary to write one for this resort, because what they did was ignorant and wrong. I don't think they know was "hospitality" means. I don't know what happened to this place, because I went here a couple years ago and everything was great. But now they just have ignorant, rude, arrogant managers running the place that seem to be scamming people out of their money. I would definitely NOT RECOMMEND this place to anyone, even if you aren't planning on getting a cabin. If this is what their "luxury" cabins are like, I can't imagine what their normal hotel rooms are like. Do yourself and your family a favor, and stay somewhere else. I'm sure you can find a better, less expensive, friendlier hotel than this one, because it isn't hard to beat.

          This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of

          Historical Traveler Reviews Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort Utica

          Loved the waterpark hated the restaurant


          We stayed at the Lodge on a Sunday night. The waterpark itself was just wonderful although I agree with a prior review that you really must watch your own children. Also the slides by the treehouse area should not be attempted by normal size adults. I really hurt my knee and witnessed another woman do the smae. The padding at the bottom is inadequate for the speed! In general the park was clean and very fun. My kids enjoyed themselves immensely. The restaurant however was just awful. We decided to go even though we read bad reviews bc we thought they might have improved things and we really didn't feel like packing up the kids to drive around and find something else. They really have a captive audience and clearly take advantage. Most if not all the food items were well over $15. We had an obviously frozen pizza that cost $18.95. It was extremely thin crust, was cold in the middle, and was served on a pizza pan that was so bent the pizza was in danger of falling off. The extra cheese was a joke. The wait staff was very inattentive. We had empty water glasses that were commented on (You must have been thirsty..." but not filled the entire time we were there. Our waitress failed to bring us plates for the pizza and she just reeked of cigarette smoke. She apologized for the pizza explaining that they didn't have a pizza oven, but she didn't tell us this until after she brought it out. Strangely we had a great breakfast at the same restaurant. It was a great basic brunch with plenty for all to eat, fruit, donuts, eggs, sausage, bacon etc. It was great. I even filled out a comment card bc it seemed such a shame that the restaurant was so bad in the evening but I never had the hotel contact me to follow up. I just felt I should warn other guests. Really, bring your own microwaveables or go anywhere else for dinner. The breakfast is very nice but don't attempt the dinner!

          Great Family Trip


          My Christmas present to my family was a trip to the Grand Bear Lodge. We had 3 Villas. The Villas are wonderful. The service to the Lodge and back was great. Most of the time I would put the phone down and the van was there. The waterpark is great for all ages. The Christmas lights were still lit. It was beautiful. We will be returning next year, if not sooner. Can't wait for the Amusement Park.

          Will definately return


          Everything went perfectly. We had a midweek rate of $149. Check-in was simple and quick. Staff is very friendly. Our Family Suite was quite big compared to other hotel rooms. Very clean. We have a 4 1/2 yr old who LOVED the waterpark. It is not "huge", but more than adaquate for children. The wave pool was great. We had too much fun. Everything you need is available right at the resort (restaurants, ice-cream, chocolate shop, coffee, etc.) I would recommend this resort and do plan to return.

          A great place to stay


          I've read the other reviews.

          I recommend this place as a family get away. The area surrounding Grand Bear alone is well worth the trip.

          Here is my review:

          I agree that the rooms are rather dark but none the less beautifully decorated and the beds are quite comfy.

          We found the people at the service desk to be wonderful. They didn't act indifferent to anything we needed. They were ontop of everything and always friendly.

          Our room had 2 queen beds with a couch, balcony,a little refrigerator, coffee pot, microwave and a very nice shower with thick towels and nice sized bottles of shampoo/conditioner.

          We had a TV but never turned it on because we were at the waterpark most of the time.

          You need to watch your little kids, always stay by them and make sure they have a life jacket. The water is so rough in places that it wears kids that are 8 and under frighteningly fast.

          There's alot of chlorine in the water too.

          2 times we helped kids that were approx 4 to 6yrs in the wave pool who were exhausted trying to stay above the waves and were too weak to get out. The lifegaurds were right there but they didn't see them as they were looking in other areas. Don't get me wrong, the place is incredible. I just wanted to point out that "YOU" need to watch your kids, always be at their side and not take it for granted that they are constantly supervised by anyone else.

          The waterslides are awsome but again, be down at the bottom if your littler kids try to go down. They aren't allowed to wear life jackets inside the slides and they go underwater when they come out.

          The arcade is nice. It had alot of target shooting games and race driving games. It also had 4 or so ball toss games that'd be suitable for the littler kids.

          The food at Jacks is bad and it was very expensive. I recommend eating someplace else. I don't recommend Duffy's either. I saw the review where they really enjoyed the food. We didn't but the interior of the place is fun and the people are nice.

          The scenery is beautiful. The mini golf course is great. There's a fee to play but it's well worth it.

          The holiday events and weekend events were alot of fun and worth attending.

          We look forward to going again.

          Hidden Gem!!


          This is a hidden gem and a great value for the money. My family stayed here over the Veteran's day holiday and had a great time. Our kids loved the indoor water park, and we loved sitting there watching them with bar service right there! The local scenery and hiking at Starved Rock State Park were tremendous. We rented a villa, which is really a townhouse complete with two fireplaces and a jacuzzi. It could have accomodated 10 people easily. Next time, we'll share it with another family. We would have (and have) paid twice as much as we did. We'll be back for sure.

          Beautiful Weather but an Average Property at Best


          We stayed here over the weekend of October 14-17 2005. We had an incredibly fun time--but most of our joy came from non-property activities. The little town of Utica was wonderful. Lunch at Duffy's Tavern was one of our highlights. Starved Rock State Park was spectacular. There were too many people on the trails, but it was still a lot of fun.

          We urge you to eat dinner at the restaurant at the Starved Rock Lodge. My wife loved the Santa Fe Chicken and I devoured the trout. The kids' menu was above average (we have daughters--ages 12 and 7). We also ate here for the Sunday brunch but found it to be average at best (we prefer the brunch at the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park in Indiana.)

          Our room at Grizzly Jack's was spartan--lighting was horrible. If you want to get any reading done--FORGET IT! Flys were a HUGE problem. Housekeeping was above average.

          There is no room service. Meals in the restaurant were below average.

          The waterpark compared favorably with the indoor park at the Holidome in Indianapolis (at the Pyramids), but was not as spacious as the Kalahari at the Wisconsin Dells (we did not expect it to be so.) The arcade was a rip-off, but not unusually so (they all are!)

          The outdoor bar/restaurant was the biggest disappointment of our trip. The "kid" cooking was obviously sick and kept blowing his nose while preparing and delivering food--luckily we observed this before we ordered anything. Drink service was horrible.

          There is no doubt that this property needs to improve its customer service. Our requests/concerns/comments were consistently met with indifference. The physical infrastucture seemed "cheap": we wonder how well this property will stand up to the test of time.

          If you live close by and yearn for a bad weather escape--go for it and limit your expectations!

          Grand Bear Lodge


          We visited the Grand Bear Lodge for two nights on the third weekend of October and found that it lived up to its advertising. We had three generations and all stayed in one villa which we truly enjoyed. The indoor water park was incredible for the children and very enjoybable for the rest. The playground was good. The miniature golf that was attached to it was probably not quite worth the expense especially for young children who were charged the same as adults. We had all of our meals in the villa so did not try the restaurants.

          We were disappointed that the free wireless internet apparently did not reach our villa. We also found that our villa had not been checked out carefully as we had call to get missing items. Otherwise, it was a great weekend that we plan to repeat.

          Loved it !


          We stayed at this hotel during the Buroga Festival in Oct . My family loved this hotel. Yes , It isn't as big as the ( Wilderness / Kalahari ) but my kids had a Great Time .

          The waterpark was smaller but we went on a sold-out weekend , & the lines were really really small. Also they had the lazy river duck races which my kids enjoyed . Everyone who did the duck races recieved a prize too.

          The hotel has alot of fun activites when we went. We did the minature golf . They had hay rides , bon-fire

          ghost stories , playground , arcade , & much more .

          The hotel doesn't have room service , but you can call in your order from your room , & pick it up to take to your room.

          Our hotel room was fine . The hotel is completely smoke-free . If you are a smoker you have to get a balconey room , & can only smoke with the balconey door firmly closed.

          Duffy's Tavern a restaurant In Utica , was really good. They have Great Cheeseburgers & Fries . Both the Chicago Sun-Times & Chicago Tribune Rated the restaurant Highly .

          The hotel has invested 90 million in the place. So , they will keep expanding & adding more fun stuff !

          We will go back to the hotel , & we like it because it is so close to our home. Also they ONLY Let hotel guests use the waterpark so you don't have to worry about overcrowding . It is a great hotel to go to for a week-end trip. If you stay during the week Mon-Thurs the prices are alot cheaper .

          Not that Grand


          We were excited to see this new waterpark hotel in Illinois. We are frequent travelers to Wisconsin Dells so we were able to compare the two. Utica is much closer to us than Wisc Dells. The hotel is small in comparison to the larger dells hotels with 92 guest rooms. We stayed on a thurs night, One King bed was 139.00 We were informed that on Friday the rate was 298.00 for the same room. Insane. I actually was trying to reserve the "family suite" 2 double beds, and pull out couch. But during the very long wait for reservations, which appear to be handled by the meager front desk staff, the room was "no longer available" It was at the beginning of the call, but by the end of the call it was not. Of note, they don't take debit cards at all for reservations. I was told this at the end of the reservation process not at the beginning. I had to hang up, call back again with my credit card number which I do not usually use. I had to wait even longer on hold. Took about one hour on the phone altogether.

          The rooms are new, no furniture on the deck. Slightly bigger than a standard Wilderness room. For some reason we were given a handicapped room, with no tub. But we figured we were only there for one night so no big deal. Well when you take a shower the water goes out to soak 1/2 of the bathroom floor. Also the sink was just a sink with no counter and had h a hairdryer installed right over it. The hairdryer says do not install near water, this seemed weird to me, not sure how that was safe. We were right next to the ice machine and pop machines, on the 3rd floor. Quite loud as people were getting ice during the night.

          Also lots of noise from other rooms, and could here people speaking in the hallway. One guy was on his cell phone outside our room for 1/2 hour, doing "business" loudly.

          The water park is not that great in size, about the size of Timberridge in Wisconsin Dells with a very different set up. There is a toddler pool with slide.

          A wave pool, which I thought had too strong of a current when it was turned on. It goes up to 5 feet and when the current was on there was at least 1 foot waves so it would make to water 6 feet deep. There is one life guard and no floats are allowed in the wave pool. I actually had one panicky moment as I was trying to get out of the 5 feet, and swimming against the current was getting tiring, a big lady knocked me under and I got a little disoriented. My husband had to hold onto my 7 year old. Don't let your small kids in alone unless they are terrific swimmers, strongly suggest personal flotation device.

          The lazy river current was too fast as compared to any lazy river I have been to, and I have been to many. Also it is quite deep. Usually my daughter can stand up no problem, in this one she was on her tip toes, it was almost 4 feet, and small children could not go against the current, even I had probs getting out.

          The big draw is the interactive water slide where you can chose a light and sound experience. You have to climb 3 stories, sit your rear in a round tube and reach over to pic either a fun or scary experience. I went down to the butterflies, and saw some lights and heard some music. Kind of cool, not too exciting, saw no butterflies. So got my daughter and went up carrying the double tube, and she picked the music selection, again, only lights and music. But this time at the end we both flipped off and I nearly fell on top of her. We both went under for a second. Needless to say she did not want to go again. So never saw any holographic pictures this trip. Maybe it is only on the scary ones, sharks, bears, that you see the pictures, or maybe it was not working I don't know.

          Outside there is a good play area with slides and climbers which is shaped like a castle behind the hotel and to the left of the main lobby. My daughter had the most fun on that. It is curiously placed right next to an outdoor bar that was playing eminem music at one point.

          There is also a mini golf, that is 4 dollars to play one round. There are waterfalls, but they were turned off halfway through b/c the leaves from the large trees were clogging up the pumps, a few of the holes were flooded. They built the miniature golf under huge trees, one can't help but think the flooding is going to get worse.

          The town homes and cabins look just the Same at the Wilderness and are aparently 100 percent sold according to one of the staff. Quite nice and pricey.

          They are bulding a huge indoor amusement park, that will have 10 rides, dj and pizza, that shoud be ready next year, and is phase 2.

          Phase 3 will be an outdoor water park not ready for 2 years.

          The restuarant was big and bland, no music. The food was ok, and was service. Quite pricey though.

          Bring, snacks and water, pop. There are no stores in the immediate area, so you will have to buy from them, and pay the price. Saw no drug stores either, so bring your prescriptions.

          The arcade is standard stuff, nothing great.

          Overall we thought it was OK, but will not be in a great hurry to get back.

          We did enjoy Starved Rock, and though the Lodge there was basic, we had more fun there than at Grand Bear, at least for now.

          Great Idea for the Midwest!


          For those that are wondering what Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge is all about, it's worth a visit. There are some kinks that the folks at Grizzly Jack's need to work out. Staff members need to receive more training for inquiring guests. The exercise room still needs to have TV's or music installed. More staff members are needed to answer the phone. When guests dial 0, the phone will ring 15 to 20 times and never be answered.

          We stayed in the two bedroom villa. The villa was spacious, seating in the dining area for 8 people, two bedrooms upstairs one with king size bed and the other room had two queen beds. The master bedroom has a jacuzzi and gas fireplace. Both bedrooms had balcony's, but the balcony's were small and didn't have chairs. The villa had all the appliances found in a typical home. A nice surprise was the villa had a washer and dryer. We only stayed one night and didn't have the need to wash clothes. The bathrooms had nice lightweight hair dryers with built in night lights. The maids need to give guests more than one bar of soap per bathroom. We had to keep moving the bar of soap from the shower area to the sink. The towels were thick and absorbent and plenty were available in the villa. The water park area was clean and well lit, but loud. Music plays in the water park but in certain areas, the music was so loud you couldn't have a conversation without speaking very loudly. The noise level is also brought about by the rushing sounds of the water and people. The sounds seem to echo about in the water park. All guests must enter through the locker rooms. They have several showers in the lockers rooms, with empty soap dispensers. It would have been nice to have curtained changing areas otherwise your only private option is to change in the toliet stalls. Bring your own hair dryer to use in the changing room as none are provided. Guests are allowed to use the water park on the day they check out. Check out is 11 am. We asked about getting a late check out of noon or 1pm, but told it wasn't possible. So if you want to shower before you leave, you need to use the locker rooms. The water park has a snack stand inside the water park, with beer and daquiri's being served. A nice feature for parents! There were plenty of lifeguards, but they need to receive training on how not to look throughly bored at their job. One lifeguard sat in her chair with her head in her hands. The staff members at the top of the slide waiting to wave guests down look throughly bored as well. I realize that this may be a tedious job, but some interaction with the guests may make staff members look less bored and more friendly. None of the staff members that work at Grizzly Jack's seemed to smile much. It would have given guests more of a friendly welcome if they smiled and said, "Hello"! The water slide that you go down in an innertube allows you to chose your own light's and sounds show. This was really cool! They had alien, sharks and two others to chose from. I chose sharks, but most of the kids chose alien. My guess is that is the best one. But lines were not long for the slides, so you could try the slides several times. There is another body slide that I tried, and it was really fun. This line was shorter than the inner tube slide with lights and sounds. This park opened July 4th weekend. I'm sure that when this park is completed all guests will have a very nice stay. Try Two Sisters fudge store and August Hill Winery in downtown Utica. These places had friendly staff and great products. We liked the fudge and toffee and Two Sisters and the wine was excellent at August Hill. A nice thing about August Hill, is they let you taste the wine. Which allowed for the perfect choice when buying.

          TripAdvisor Reviews Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort Utica

          3.50 of 5 stars Very Good

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