This review is coming direct from our lodge room using a cellphone to enter all this so hopefully not too many grammer errors .
Our family has been spending Thanksgiving here for that past ten years. Last year our only concern was that the formal thanksgiving lunch was moved from the Masters Hall area with white table clothes and linens (lots of holiday decor) to the inform dining area where every meal at the lodge is served on just plain tables and minimum effort. Just that change alone made the meal less "special".
This year it's worse. Same informal dining area but with worse food. The turkey.... Isn't what you'd serve at home. Used to be real whole turkey served up with "chunks" of white and dark meat like you would find at any family function. Not this year, looked like pressed white meat which was dry. And the gravy was hidden over on the salad area so no one found it until later. And who serves cranberry sauce hot and melty? Desserts were much worse this year with less variety.
This year they offered a Thanksgiving dinner buffet, not just lunch, so us and our two kids tried it as well, hoping for something better. Disappointment again. To start, the cashier ringing out a line of people should not also play hostess as to the fact you have to wait to be seated in a mostly empty area. We were then met with the exact same food from lunch but much less choices based on it being leftovers. I didn't think it could get worse but it did. Dry sticky potatoes. The roast from their carving station was now all cut up and dried out. Had to ask if they would bring out more rolls and dressing. The dressing can out after a few minutes but the rolls only made it out as we were leaving. What was left of the deserts choices were just sad. Besides seeing apple cobbler with no moisture in, the icecream machine was empty so you couldn't even help it if you wanted. There was one pumpkin pie and maybe 6 slices of dried out cake of different variety. My kids always love any deserts so its extremely sad when even they look and say no. Dinner definitely was not worth the price, which is sad because they used to have such wonderful food.
Also, the booming music flowing over from the new bar area installed didn't help the dinner experience.
All meals this year had 18% tip added. That was fine for the big lunch since service was good but the service wasn't so good for dinner and I would have tipped accordingly.
Paying for the big lunch... The server doesn't swipe your card, they pass that off to someone else who then mixes up the cards and charges the wrong totals to different family members. Some one else paid for my kids lunches. Bad service there.
Paying for dinner... You take your own bill to the register. Easy enough. However, watched the older gent in front of me try to pay and say he left the tip on the table to which the cashier charged him another tip and said its included automatically in the bill. After he complained for two minutes, saying he's not tipping twice, the cashier reluctantly got up to get the manager. Where was the manager... Hanging out in the bar area... which is less then professional. Then to top it off, its some young girl who partially shaved the side of her head. Again less than professional. I watch as she never appologized or talked the gentleman but simply voided his transaction and rerang it without the tip. All I can say is the lack of customer service means that guy isn't bringing back his family.
Ok. The lodge itself has no character anymore. It's now an empty shell. Used to have quilts and a special little gift shop that the women loved. All gone. Just some high dollar cheap looking cafe thrown in a little hole that has offers a few souvenirs.
The festival of trees this year... Looked empty. No holiday music and no large lodge christmas tree with bears as which has always been the tradition. Only have the gas fireplace was turned on. Very little holiday decorations. You can't just put out some red poinsettas and call it decorated.
The rooms at the lodge have always been run down but the lodge hospitality and inviting atmosphere have always made up for it. Don't stay here if you're looking for a nice room. These have always been subpar.
Humm... What else. Tried to check in three times but the staff couldn't do it because the power was out. They finally did decide later to check us in without power. Why couldn't we have gotten checked in earlier... Idk. Atleast offer free breakfast or something for making guest repeatly drive back over and over to see if they can check in.
Still have 2 more days here so a future post may still come.
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- Also Known As:
- Unicoi State Park Hotel Helen
- Unicoi State Park Lodge And Conference Center Helen
- Unicoi State Park Helen