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Thoughts On Working At McKinley Wilderness Princess Lodge

Does anyone have any opinions on working at the McKinley Wilderness Princess Lodge? I am thinking of applying there as a server for summer 2014. Just wondering what the overall experience is like, and whether a person can make decent money waiting tables there.

Thanks in advance for any information.

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Having spent the last three years as a driver guide at MPL. I think you will find your experience a positive one. As with all seasonal positions, there are pro's and con's. In regards to making money waiting tables. That will depend on your performance. I believe guest appreciation is on a higher end at the Mountainview  Restaurant over the 20320 Alaskan Grill. You may not have a choice in where you are assigned. There are a lot of changes in store for McKinley Princess Lodge. New hotel manager, new F/B manager, etc. If you do not bring a car, you will be stranded. Talkeetna is fifty miles away by motor coach ( one hour ride each way). You can ride the shuttle as an employee on a space available basis. The view when the mountain is out will take your breath away. During the season there are Wally World runs to Anchorage once a week. The cost is five dollars and it takes all day. You do not return until late. They alternate Tuesdays and Wednesdays I believe. You have to make arrangements well in advance for one of those days off as I understand. If I can answer any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Jay, what can you tell me about the rv sites?  I emailed the lodges and they said that MPL  had employee rv sites and the Kenai location had a campground.  Any info you could provide we would appreciate.  We are in the thinking mode of workamping up there but trying to figure out if the summer wages would cover the trip up and back.  When a motorhome only get 8mpg we want to make sure we have our ducks in a row before heading up.  We did make the trip one time, but that was back in 1999 so lots have changed since then.  We went up the AlCan and returned on the Cassiar.  We wnet up in late June and returned in late August.  I would really like to do it again but being older, but not really any wiser want to make sure.  It isnt like working down in the 48 that if things dont work out there are other jobs just down the road.  Once committed to Alaska you are there and that is that.  Especially with a rv.  Thanks, Jim

There are sites available at MPL. However, they are limited and are on a first come, first served. Several driver guides will give notice before they leave if they will be coming back with an RV. Kenai is very small and most of those lots are used by the public. Any available lots for employees are spoken for in advance. Kenai has a high rate of return. Another point to consider, positions are posted now. Everyone is applying early to assure a position for the next season. You must understand there is a high turn over (as it seems) in F/B. They can terminate you at any time for any reason. My suggestion would be to apply for positions, take your car (not an RV) stay in employee housing the first year. It is best to get a lay of the land. Employee housing has it's negative side, MPL has decent housing compared to the other properties. Just depends......... Keep the questions coming..... I will do my best to answer.

Hi, Jay.

Thanks for the information. It is much appreciated. If I have any other questions, I will let you know.

Hi Steve,

In a lot of ways, McKinley is a great place to work. I just have a couple of things to caution you about so you make a good decision for yourself.

First, if you're going for a serving job, be prepared to work split shifts. Mountain View only has splits, and most of your shifts at the 20,320 might be splits (6:30 a.m - 11:00 a.m. and then back in at 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., depending on how busy the night is). At least, this is how things were last summer. I personally struggled a lot with this schedule and at one point almost quit, but most people managed alright. The new management might change a lot of this next year, but be prepared. I'm not sure what "decent money" is to you. I would say money at the 20,320 was decent last year, though not as good as it had been in past years. There were a couple of factors in play here, including guest counts being down. I don't know what the projections for next year are.

Second, Jay's words about being stranded can't be echoed enough. McKinley is in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, but it is isolated. The closest town is an hour away, and even good hiking and camping require a car to get to.

To sum up, if you're looking to work a good job, and can sleep between split shifts, McKinley will be great. But if you're an explorer, I wouldn't recommend McKinley unless you have a car.

Hi, Erica.

Thanks for the information. Do they mention the split shifts during the interview or hiring process, or is that a surprise once you arrive?

No, they tell you. It's just in the case of the 20,320, their needs changed. This of course can happen with any job, but, maybe because of my lack of experience in seasonal work at the time, I just never anticipated working mostly split shifts.

I'm not a big fan of split shifts either.

So aside from that, is this a place you'd consider returning to? (It sounds like you worked there for more than one season. I think it's a good sign when people want to return to the same place).

I was there for one season, but also mentioned what I had heard about past seasons. I won't be returning. Between the split shifts and the remoteness, it just isn't for me.

I should mention a lot of people do return, though. It's just deciding whether or not it'll suite you.

Does anybody know anything about working at the McKinley Chalet  at Denali (Natnl Prk , AK). I understand that Holland America / Princess has bought out Aramark?

I heard that Holland America bought the Chalet, but that Aramark still has property there.


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