Even though I am new to TA, I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on how to get that perfect cabin rental. I work in the cabin rental business in Gatlinburg and I would like to share what (imo) is the best way to get what you want.
While I love the fact that you can search and buy most anything you could want on the web, sometimes the only way to get what you need is to contact the business by phone or even email, if the phone isn't an option. Most of the folks in this area that do rentals require their employees to visit the cabins and get to know them.
So, the person taking your reservation is the best expert you have access to. Make a list of the amenities you want and start with the Chamber of Commerce in the town you want to stay in. You can also use the Better Business Bereau in Knoxville (they do Greater E. TN, too) to see if there's any really bad companies to stay away from.
Example of items for your amenity list:
- # of Beds/Baths (take into account the "Sleeps" number may be including sleeper sofas/futons, etc. If this isn't an option, be sure to say so. )
- Location, Location, Location! - Do you want to be close to town? Away from it all? On a Creek? Be sure to ask how far to the trolley and how busy the street is.
- Views: Mountain, Creekside, Wooded and private. With Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge bursting at the seams with cabins and even private homes, alot of the "very private" cabins and chalets are out a little further from town than most people realize. Ask how many miles, but keep in mind, they may be mountain miles and you may end up in traffic.
- Chalet vs. cabin: What's the difference? Chalets look more like a house and are generally decorated accordingly. Cabins are generally log (or log look) sided and have the decorations you'd expect in a cabin.
- Rustic vs. new? Ok, I am familiar with a truely RUSTIC home. It's old (built in the 1880's and renovated in the '30s), it's dark, it's kinda creepy. But some people love that. If you're expecting top-of-the-line, new and awesome. Ask that question. Sometimes the pictures aren't really what they seem. Most companies will tell you when the cabin was built.
- Hot Tub vs. Jacuzzi: What's the difference? May seem to be a simple question, but I am constantly amazed at the number of people that don't know the difference. A hot tub is an outdoor jetted tub that fits 2 or more people. The larger the cabin, usually, the larger the tub. Jacuzzi's are meant for only 1 or 2 people and are generally in a bedroom or bathroom in the cabin. More like a bath tub than a hot tub.
- Gamerooms: Gamerooms generally include the following: A pool table (or game table of some kind), a TV and some sort of game system. Because a cabin amenities list a "gameroom" don't assume it has EVERYTHING. Several cabins I know only have a pool table, or foosball. No TV, no gaming system. Figure out what kind of games your family will want and put those on the list.
- If you're travelling during the summer you will want to book early. The biggest/best places go first, the same applies during the Holidays. Also, traffic is always an issue. Even during the off-season when they do contruction. Ask those questions! Find out where the cabin is and how long you could sit in traffic if it's a busy week/weekend. Most people will be able to give you some idea of the time or miles.
Everyone's taste is different. And for folks that have never been to the area before, or it's been years since they've been, it can be overwhelming to see how many cabins there are. There are so many resources availible (above & beyond TA), might as well make use of all that you can.
I think that's everything for now, if anyone else can think of something I missed please add a reply! (I'm sure I'm forgetting something). I can't wait to see what other ideas people have (usually from experiance) that can only help others!