by Jeff Bogle
The family-friendly Darnell’s Lake Resort offers a no-resort fee experience in Lake Chelan for families looking for much more than just a place to sleep for the night. Enjoy four acres of space to play tennis on lighted courts, 9-hole mini-golf, beach volleyball, horseshoes and Ping-Pong, or soak in the pool and hot tub. The resort is within walking distance of downtown Chelan, yet also sometimes feels a world away because it is secure and secluded with no foot traffic passing through. All rooms can sleep at least four thanks to a mix of beds and sleeper sofas, but Darnell’s has super large rooms with multiple beds to accommodate big families or family reunions, too.
Our Editor Loves
- Children's Play Area and mini-golf
- Being lakefront
- Large family rooms with three+ beds
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
We stayed just at the end of the season, and more or less had the place to ourselves! Although the accommodation was a bit dated, it was spacious and had all amenities. The grounds were beautifully kept and the lakeside facilities lovely, including the outdoor grills which we put to good use. The reception was very welcoming and helpful, as were all the staff we encountered. Great two night stay and incredibly good value!
Before starting this review I should disclose that my family and I used to regularly vacation here almost every summer until 2003. There were a few changes during that time but more since our last stay.
First the rooms. Our room was one of the upper rooms and was about the same as the last visit. There were a couple couches (one hide-a-bed), a bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen and an outside deck looking towards the lake and pool (all rooms face the lake I believe). The good: plenty of space for gathering and families or about 4. The air conditioning works great! After hot days in the sun on the lake these rooms can seem icy cold, but perfect to cool off, watch cable tv and sleep at night. The only bad part about the rooms is the small kitchen and limited silverware and plates. Anyone getting a room should probably bring some bigger serving plates and cooking pans.
For swimming and activities the hotel is lake front with a hot tub and pool. The swim area is great for families with a couple small beaches on the lake. There are three floating docks with adjustable seats on them. This is upgrade from my last it with only one old wood floating dock. The only downsides are the absence of the floating trampoline they had on my previous visit and newly in stalled fence along the dock by the cabana preventing people from jumping off to swim to the floating docks. This area is at least 12-14 feet deep jumping towards the docks. It seems that the new owners or managers are hyper sensitive on safety. Now there are no diving signs along the cabana dock and a “low water hazard no access” sign where it’s at least five feet deep. Other than the lake, the pool and hot tub are very close by. We really enjoyed the easy walk from the lake to the pool and hot tub. Strangely, the pool/hot tub has a sign prohibiting any food or drinks. It’s understandable to not allow alcohol or food by the hot tub, but all drinks? drinking/ice water?
The cabana is a place to play board games, table tennis, and get coffee or ice cream. Unfortunately, they do not rent wave runners/jet skis (they used to) or paddle boards from the cabana. There is a water rental place in the state park next to Darnell’s. It would be nice to have the convenience of renting from the hotel instead of having to walk down the street to rent and walk back after returning.
Lastly for water activities, the hotel has a boat launch but I do not think it is functioning and is very narrow. There is a dock with many spots for boats as well.
Along side the entrance and parking lot there is a putting green and a chip and put area. Many, many years ago (20+) this was a legitimate spot to practice putting and chipping. On my last visit and now the greens are overgrown and mowed to a fairway height and the rest of the grass is a thick rough. The grass is green, healthy and well watered. While we were there I didn’t see anyone practicing any putting. If the hotel is not going to cut and maintain the green at an actual golf course height they should either replace the grass with astroturf (cheaper to maintain and functional) or replace the entire chip and putt with something else. For our stay it was an unused lawn.
Lastly, the location is great. It is far enough from town to not feel congested/crowded, yet it is less than five minutes drive from downtown or Chelan golf course.
Overall, this is a great place to stay despite some of the changes in rules and structure. The rooms are old but comfortable. The easy access between the lake, pool, and hot tub is near perfect. The location is as good as one can get without being in the middle of town. I would definitely recommend staying here.