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“There's a lot of room for improvment” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort

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Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Utica
East Peoria, Illinois, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“There's a lot of room for improvment”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 February 2012

I took my two children, ages 6 and 9, for an over night trip to Grizzly Jack's because it was close but could still feel like a vacation to them and it was within my budget.
ROOM
The room was clean and decent, nothing fancy. I was confused at first because the heating/cooling unit wasn't responding when I tried to cool it down in the room but when I asked a front desk person about it they told me those units were no longer hooked up and there is a thermostat. (I just hadn't noticed it before) Those old ones should really be removed if they aren't in use anymore. Also there was one light I could never figure out how to turn on and had to plug in the other ones after I thought they, too, didn't work but was informed that housekeeping just unplugs them to clean. There was a rip in the seat of the couch that was in our room, which admittedly took away from the "resort vacation" feel of our trip initially.
ARCADE
The arcade is like a small Chuck E. Cheese but most of the games were two tokens instead of one. I gave my kids 10.00 each in tokens and they were happy spending those. There wasn't an attendant in the area the whole time we were in the arcade (about an hour) but we returned later to spend out tickets when someone was behind the counter- and I have to say he was very polite and patient with my two indecisive girls. Other than that, the place was clean and the games were in working order with the exception of two, the color game and the squirt gun game (which didn't have enough water pressure to make it to the target)
WATER PARK
You have to enter through the locker rooms and must get you towels on the way in. I had grabbed a few off of a stack of folded in half towels on the desk but realized that they were damp and really scratchy feeling. There was no one at the desk when I went back and no other towels to choose from so we had to make do. Going through the locker rooms does not give you the best impression as to the cleanliness of the water park and hotel. The floor had a lot of standing water puddles which we had to walk through and in passing the showers I noticed a lot of grime, big clumps of hair, and water stains. We got out to the park area and the spa was shut down completely. The rest of the park was in working order and there were several lifeguards stationed which made me feel comfortable letting my kids play freely. Sadly after about 20 minutes they had to close down the area because someone "got sick" in the pool. On a positive note: The woman in the snack shop was really friendly and gave great service.
AMUSEMENT PARK
This was, sadly, a disappointment. There weren't many rides and a couple of them were not running (one being a smaller kids boat ride thing, and we didn't even see an alien ride that's listed in the rides section on the website). My 6 yr old had to play on bouncy houses because that's all that was available for younger kids (as well as one tiger ride). There are a lot of Arcade-style games for you to spend additional money on though! I was really unhappy with this whole area. There was probably more money put into the giant stone man in the entrance that moves and talks than half the rides.
DINING
We went to Jack's Place for Dinner since we were already in the building. The food was actually better than I expected. My kids got hot dogs and they were the all beef kind not the mystery meat kind so they were happy with their food. I got the meatball sandwich and a salad bar. The sandwich was excellent and the salad bar was fresh and well stocked. Our waitress was prompt and friendly. The only thing I didn't like about the restaurant is that is open with the rest of the park. I would have really like a nice quiet meal to enjoy with my kids without the noise and lights of the park behind us. That would have been an alright scenario had we been getting carnival food and sitting at a picnic table but I expect a little more when you're paying table service prices.
In the hotel The Grizzly Bean Cafe and The Honey Pot Sweet Shop were excellent. Prices for cappuccino are a little high considering it's the same kind you get at the gas station but I really can't complain about anything else. The breakfast buffet was excellent! Lots of choices and everything was fresh. If I remember correctly it was about 6.95 for myself and 4.95 for each of my kids- great prices.
OVERALL
I would say we had a really good time. Nothing major to complain about, the staff was kind and helpful but I think there's a lot of room for improvement, in all areas of this operation. Luckily, they are things I notice and my children don't (for now anyway) I don't think we will be back until I hear of some kind of renovation. I just don't think it was really worth the money as it was an average experience all the way around for me. (and I'm the one paying)

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Nikole S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 14 March 2012
Thank you for choosing Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort and for taking the time to let us know about your stay. Without guests bringing situations to our attention, we would not be able to correct or improve where we need to. We are sorry for any inconveniences that you had during your trip to our resort. Please contact me at bsullivan@grandbearlodge.com for any further questions or concerns. Thank you again and have a GRAND day!
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (320)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
LaSalle, Illinois
Level Contributor
121 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 February 2012

I am really surprised to see negative reviews on this site. I took my extended family in December, and stayed in one of the units that sleep 18 people. We had 10 children under age 11, and 10 adults-not everyone stayed overnight, and only the kids and 6 adults swam. For us, the water park was a blast! The kids loved it. The Enchanted Forest was fun. It is typical carnival type rides, and was exactly as we expected it to be. Our rooms were very clean, nothing was broken. We had a really good time! I think it is absolutely worth the money. We plan to make it an annual family event. I may even surprise everyone and go again in May, just to get everyone together again. Its a great place for families with kids 3-11 and beyond. read more about our trip and see photos here
http://kklobucher.blogspot.com/2011/12/whats-really-important.html

  • Stayed December 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank TheBackyardTourist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 14 March 2012
Thank you for staying at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort and letting us know about your stay! Your blog about your stay was a GRAND way to display the fun filled family getaway. We hope that Grand Bear can become a tradition for your families future events. We look forward to you staying with us again so stay updated on our specials on Facebook or our website. Thank you again and have a GRAND day!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oswego, Illinois
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 February 2012

We stayed four nights over President's Day weekend, 2012. After reading the reviews posted here, I was very concerned by the negative reviews, but we did have a good time overall.

When choosing the Grand Bear Resort, we compared it with other "Water Park Resorts" in the area. Key Lime Cove and the cheapest resort in the Wisconsin Dells were priced well above the rate that we paid. So from a value comparison perspective, I feel that the resort was well priced for what you received. The fact that I didn't have to drive 3 hours to the Dells or 1.5 hours to Gurnee was a plus and a factor in our decision to choose this resort.

Check-in was without incident, although as was posted by others, they did pre-charge my credit card for an amount that was well above the quoted room rate+ fees and taxes. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind this practice except to confuse and anger guests. I've never stayed at another hotel that does this.

We stayed in a room with two double beds, a sofa bed and a balcony. I would describe the room as consistent with what you would find at a Comfort Inn or a Fairfield Inn. This is not a Four Seasons, by any means, but I found the accomodations adequate. Our room was located near the lobby area. Location-wise, it was great as we were just a flight of stairs away from the pool. Noise-wise, it wasn't so great. If you wanted to sleep in in the morning it was impossible to do so with guests gathering for breakfast just outside our door at 8 am. Children running in the hallway and parents yelling at their kids to stop running is how we woke up every morning. A major improvement that could be made to the rooms right away would be to increase the TV offerings made to guests. They had very basic cable plus three channels that looped a nature show, Yogi Bear, and Up the entire time we were there. We brought our own portable DVD player and played movies when we needed some downtime away from the waterpark and amusement park. We utilized the Free WiFi service in the resort and found this to be a plus.

The waterpark was a bit on the small side. Younger kids will thoroughly enjoy it, but I think the older kids would get bored quite easily. The hot tub was closed during our entire stay (we were aware of this when we booked), and that was a bummer. My kids loved the wave pool, but we did see that the pool was closed for about an hour at least 4 times when other guests vomitted or defacated in the pool. It was also difficult to find innertubes to use on the lazy river and most guests seemed to swim around in it. I did not sense the chlorine odor issues reported by others, but there were times where it was very warm in the pool area. Some ventillation to the area would be a welcome improvement.

The amusement park was also geared for mostly younger children. I also think that the park could use some signage. For example, there is a volcano rock climb attraction and nowhere was it posted that there was any kind of a weight limit. After waiting in a lengthy line, my 10 year old daughter who probably weights 75 pounds (but had no idea of her weight) was asked how much she weighed. When she replied "I don't know, I think under 100" the attendant sent her away and my daughter cried because she thought the attendant called her fat. It certainly could have been handled better. I very much liked that the adults could sit at a table at Jack's Place and watch on as the kids could ride the rides or play arcade games.

There were other activities offered for young kids as well. They had a "duck race" one morning before the pool opened which my kids enjoyed. The resort offered a Disney Movie at 8 pm and a story time at 7:30.

In regards to the food, we ate the Grand Breakfast Buffet on one morning and had Pizza at Jack's Place on one evening. I thought the food was good and the prices reasonable. We especially enjoyed the Pizza. Some reviewers felt that there were not enough food choices in the area and we would disagree. The Lodge at Starved Rock had a fantastic Sunday brunch and while reservations are required at The Lodge Dining Room, the Backdoor Pub was first come first serve seating and allowed access to the same buffet. We also made use of the refrigerator and microwave oven in our room.

As far as location, the Starved Rock area in Illinois is great. We did venture out to the state park a couple of times for some hiking and Bald Eagle watching. At the top of Starved Rock, you can look out over the Illinois River and the eagles congregate near the dam in the winter. We had a bald eagle with a wingspan of about 5 feet fly within 20 feet of us while we watched and it was an amazing experience.

To conclude, I would recommend this resort to families with younger children. If you're looking for a water park that will be enjoyed by pre-teens and older, you might want to look for larger water parks with more things to do for the older kids. I'd also say that the negative reviews on this site do need to be tempered - things really weren't as bad as some of the reviewers seemed to make them seem. The fact that the General Manager reads these comments and posts responses indicates to me that they do care about what their guests think. There is room for improvement as I've highlighted in my comments and my goal was to write a "fair" review.

Room Tip: Closer to the lobby is closer to the waterpark, but its also very noisy.
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank MyWonderfulFamilyOf4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 14 March 2012
“Great if you have young kids”

Thank you for choosing Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort! We are happy to hear that your family enjoyed your stay with us over President's Day weekend. In regards to your review, you mentioned some improvements that could be made on our property. We are constantly trying to improve our property to ensure each guest leaves satisfied with their stay. Currently we are adding a ropes course and laser tag to the Enchanted Forest, which is our indoor amusement park. Also, we are working on adding some more kid friendly television options. To you and your daughter, we sincerely apologize about how the weight limit restriction was handled. For safety purposes, our rides and attractions have state or manufacturer restrictions on them. We apologize for any inconveniences you may have had. You also mentioned not being able to discern the reasoning behind our security deposit. This is a company policy set in place so as to ensure that any room charges or damages that may incur during your stay are covered. If you have any questions about any of our policies please feel free to email bsullivan@grandbearlodge.com. We value our guests reviews and we hope that you return to visit us again. Thank you and have a GRAND day!
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new lenox
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 February 2012

We had a great time staying in a cabin at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort in Utica Illinois. We went to celebrate our nephew's 14th birthday. It was relaxing for the adults and a lot of fun for the kid's. They enjoyed the waterpark, the amusement park and having ice cream at the candy shop. I would definitely recommend this resort.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank makita1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 14 March 2012
Thank you for your recent stay at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort! We are pleased to hear that your nephew's birthday was a GRAND, fun filled time for your family. Hopefully there will be many more celebrations in the future that include a visit to Grand Bear. Thank you for your review, we greatly appreciate your feedback. Have a GRAND day!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 February 2012

We started visiting years ago, but we'll not return after this weekend. The facility is not being maintained, with many amenities out of order and wear and tear manifest everywhere. The staff at the amusement park is unprofessional and unfriendly, and the manager (Adam) seems indifferent to it, as well as to the safety of child guests. He has no business being in the hospitality industry, particularly where children are involved.
The poorest quality linens, bedding, and toiletries are now being used in the $300/night villas. These lovely structures used to feel special, now they feel cheap.
This was a good deal when all the amenities were operating as they should. In it's run down condition, it's not worth the price.

Room Tip: Don't ask for one. In out online reservation, we politely requested a villa as close to the lodg...
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank belou37
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 14 March 2012
Thank you for choosing Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort! We appreciate your feedback and do value all of the concerns that you have mentioned. We can assure you that all concerns will be looked into and addressed. If you would like, please email me at bsullivan@grandbearlodge.com. Thank you and have a GRAND day!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Utica hotels

Colona, Illinois, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 February 2012

My family went on a Saturday night stay for a Boy Scout gathering. We were told they would do their best to get us into our rooms ASAP, as obviousley they knew we had a large group coming and we had reservations in place long before. But that didn't happen, it took 3 hours for them to get our room ready. Room was just OK. No freaking coffee pot, which I believe is an outrage. We had to call for more towels and pillows, as they stock just the minimum. I thought everything was clean and the place was nice. The resort is huge in regards to the occupancy they could put there. But the size of the waterpark doesn't fit. The waterpark is WAY to small for the amout of people they have. The amusement park is a great idea and I thought again it was really nice. But again they have to expan, they HAVE to get bigger. So overall I see potential, but the customer service was lacking and the resort is just to small. I want to have a family reunion there next this fall, but I am really hesitant because of our experience. HEr if a manager comes across this, please contact me and tell me what we could work out to ensure my family won't be disappointed. p-rob.13@hotmail.com

Room Tip: Avoid until needed expansion happens
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Patrick-Chrissy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 19 February 2012
Thank you for choosing Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort! We are sorry to hear that your recent stay with us was not GRAND. In regards to the availability of your rooms, we do allow all guests to arrive as early as 1 pm to start using our facilities however, rooms are not guaranteed until 4 pm. Also, we do not provide individual coffee pots in our rooms; however, we do provide complimentary coffee in our lobby by the front desk. We are making several changes to our amenities on property that we hope our guests will enjoy. We will be in contact with you so that should you choose to have your family reunion here we can make sure that everyone has a GRAND time. Thank you again and we do hope to see you all in the future. Have a GRAND day!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coal City, Illinois, United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 February 2012

I have never had a worse experience at a water park before this visit to Grizzly Jack's. I brought three teenage boys to the park and they were bored to death. There are only 2 slides for for adults. It's very small. The amusement park wasn't any better three rides for older kids. The restaurant was terrible as well. It took us over an hour and a half to get our food which was no better than frozen pizza, but cost a whole lot more. The restaurant should be in the main hotel complex, not across the parking lot. I spoke with the manager Brett before I left and he said the website is not deceiving it gives accurate square footage of park. I never even mentioned that I thought the web site was deceiving. Perhaps he heard this before. He was interested in hearing me let alone helping to resolve the issue. I won't be back and I told my friends don't waste your time or money.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Carolyn P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
GBRCustomerService, General Manager at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, responded to this review, 19 February 2012
Thank you for choosing Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort! We are sorry to hear that your stay with us was not a GRAND experience. Our mission, as a resort, is to ensure that each family that visits our property leaves feeling satisfied with their stay.

Grand Bear Falls is our 24,000 square foot waterpark which features a wave pool, lazy river, two large body slides, a family slide, heated spa, toddler pool, and large play structure with water features. The Enchanted Forest, which is our indoor amusement park, does feature several carnival style rides as well as bounce houses and inflatables. Also, we are currently in the process of making some changes to our amenities on property that we feel will be very enjoyable for all ages.

Our main restaurant is located inside our indoor amusement park which unfortunately is not connected to the main lodge. We can assure you though that our pizza in Jack's Place is fresh and made-to-order. We do try to make our prices as economical as possible for families. Average cost for a meal is going to be between six and nine dollars per adult with the option of a kids menu.

We do take any and all feedback from our guests seriously, and please know that we are sincerely sorry. Thank you and have a GRAND day!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort

Property: Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort
Address: 2643 IL 178, Utica, IL 61373
Region: United States > Illinois > Utica
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Utica
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 272
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort offers skin-drenching fun all year long right in the beautiful setting of Starved Rock State Park. Located just 90 minutes from Chicago or the Quad Cities and an hour from Bloomington or Rockford, our 60 wooded acres offer all of nature's wonders, featuring 60,000 sq. ft. of Indoor Entertainment! This includes Grand Bear Falls Indoor Waterpark and Enchanted Forest Indoor Amusement Park, beautiful lodge accommodations, as well as our 1800 sq. ft. vacation villas and luxurious 2800 sq. ft. cabins. Enjoy a variety of dining options, including wraps, salads, hot sandwiches and made to order pizzas at Lumber Jacks Pizzeria and Sports Bar. During the summer months guests can enjoy a view of nature at our Bear Island Pavilion & Curtis Canyon Deck. Next to Bear Island enjoy our “Castle in the Woods” playground area and test your skills at our 18 hole Canyon Creek Miniature Golf Course, Laser Tag, Ropes Course and Zip Line (additional costs apply - open to the public). All lodge rooms include a microwave, mini-fridge, hair dryer and wi-fi internet access. Our Vacation Villas are a 2-story townhome with a fully-applianced kitchen (basic pots and pans and place settings are provided), 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Our Log Cabins offer 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a fully-applianced kitchen (basic pots and pans and place settings are provided), 3 fireplace, s and an oversized Great Room. Other resort amenities include the Cave Arcade with over 60 games, the Wave Cafe Snack Shop, the Honey Pot Sweet Shop & Grizzly Bean Gourmet Coffee Shop, the Moose Crossing Convenience Store and the Northwoods Niche Gift Shop. Our Grand Bear Conference Center includes over 8000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 6000 sq. ft. of Grand Ballroom space to accommodate your larger functions such as weddings, family reunions and corporate events. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grizzly Jack`s Grand Bear Hotel Utica
Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort
Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Hotel

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