Hey, well me and my wife are getting up there on May 14th, we are getting married May 10th and then spending a few days in anchorage after we fly up. The Grande opens on May 16th. I am living in Houston right now. I like it here, but i am not going to miss the hot.
Hey it includes room and board, plus food. I do not think its a seperate charge, its honestly a great place. I love it there, they take out the charges from your paycheck, and you never really notice it.
Coffee is packaged, but there is a coffee house on the boardwalk that is pretty good.
Most Aramark employees take the Aramark bus but it sounds like you will be arriving ahead of the parade. Yukon trails is one of two options that I am aware of (aside from hitching or meeting someone in Anchorage for the ride). The other option is the train. Check out www.akrr.com What date do you have to be in Denali? If you don't take the train up I highly recommend riding at least once this summer. It is a beautiful relaxing ride. A little secret: check with the Holland America office in Denali...typically ARA employess can ride the train for free in the luxury Holland cars(MUCH better than the AKRR cars!) but not until the season gets started. The AKRR does not start hauling the HAL railcars until the second or third week of the season. You have to check with the local (Denali) office for this benefit...DO NOT ask the Holland offices elsewhere...they won't know what you are talking about! Oh yeah, bring casual dress clothes to Denali; you will need them for the train and other things. Let me know what date you have to be in Denali and I will check with some of the people I know will be heading up soon.
I'll be up there with you, I'm going back for a 2nd year. You'll like the Grande, it's busy and fun. The Chef is very good. As far as tips goes it just depends on how busy it is. I've made more than 300 on busy nights, but that's not the rule. You'll do better there than any other property in Denali. Even breakfast can be great, it's mostly buffets with vouchers that have an auto gratuity, so you can do pretty well morning or night. As far as the housing, I'm assuming you'll be at the "Bluffs". It's not bad as long as you have a good room mate. If you have a friend coming with you be sure to request to room together. You also have to walk up the mountain to the hotel, it's rough at first but you get used to it. Let me know if you need any more info. We'll see you up there.