Fall Scene, Seasons in the Smokies

The Journey Begins – What to Look for When Renting a Log Cabin

Thanks for joining me!

This blog thing is new to me so please bear with me as I find my footing in the area. As I sat down to write this text I wanted to hit on a subject that I get asked about a lot and that is…if you’re new to renting a log cabin (or any rental property nowadays) what should you look for?  I wrote this article for my Facebook page back in 2017 but it’s still relevant. I hope you find this useful, plus add any other tips you have, I’d love to hear them.

Tips on renting a log cabin..
I’ve read a lot of reviews from customers renting log cabins through various companies and there are some reoccurring themes through many of the reviews as to why they were disappointed with their cabin. Here is what I’d advise any renter to look for prior to renting a cabin.

1) What you see isn’t always what you get. Sometimes pictures posted may have been taken years ago. Growth of trees can block spectacular views or furniture and floors can become worn. Look to see if the cabin has a Facebook page and is showing current pictures of their cabin.
2) Seek out reviews beyond just the rental company website. Search; TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google Reviews, etc. Think of the rental company reviews as more of a testimonial than a critical review. Of course there’s always the customer that feels they were wronged in some way and just can’t wait to torch the cabin company on every travel site possible. You can take those reviews with a grain of salt also, there are two sides to every story.
3) Hedge your bet with trip insurance. Yes, there are pros and cons to this and one can make an argument either way but in many cases you’re protected. Note-I don’t make a penny off trip insurance so please don’t think this is a profit center for me.
4) When you arrive at the cabin, unpack, relax for a moment and then wash the dishes. This might just be a “me thing” but I like starting from a “clean slate” and one load in the dishwasher ensures everything is clean.
5) If you have a problem with a cabin call guest services during your stay, don’t complain after you’ve checked out when nothing can be done. Demanding money back because something was broken or not operating correctly during your stay rarely ends in the desired result. Most issues with a cabin can be fixed quickly and without interrupting your vacation plans. (Here’s a peek behind the curtain- Every cabin is different as to what level the owners have authorized the maintenance companies in repairing the cabin. In our case, it’s take care of the customer first and we’ll settle the bill later. The repair company does not need to call me for authorization, just fix it. You’ll see this policy much more at the “Luxury Level” vs. the “Value Level”.
6) Every cabin has an owner. In almost every case we want you to return to our cabins year after year. Having said that and if you’ve read #1…..If the cabin has a Facebook page then you have the advantage of talking to the owner before ever booking the cabin. Ask your questions! In the case of my cabin if you’re trying to sleep 6 adults I’ll tell you it will be a little tight and may even recommend you to a friend with a cabin that’s more suitable. Look at the response rate on the Facebook page (I answer 94% of all contacts in less than 59 minutes- I agree I need to improve on that it should be 100%).
7) Alarms! We know from data we receive from the alarm company that most people check into their cabin turn off the alarm and never turn it back on until they check out. The alarms are there to protect your belongings, all of my stuff is screwed or bolted down. With so much to do in the Smokies many people leave early in the day and don’t return until the late evening leaving items like iPads, laptops and prescription drugs back in the cabin. Thieves are not looking for bear decor to steal, they want your stuff more. Please rearm your cabin alarms when leaving. PS- this is also why we have cameras up at all the entryways, just in case anything happens while your gone we have a record of who is coming in and out.
8) Dishwashers. Cabins with loft bedrooms are the ultimate in “open concept” and an old or lower quality dishwasher is not your friend when trying to watch TV or fall asleep if running it at night. How do you know if it’s going to be noisy? Look for a twist knob on the front panel, most modern quiet machines don’t have a knob. This seems like a small thing but it can be quite irritating.
9) Right size your cabin. Don’t try to squeeze 8 people into a cabin that only sleeps six and just because a cabin is listed as sleeping 6 or 8 doesn’t mean they will all fit comfortably. Look at the pictures or the floor plan of the cabin in detail and ask yourself some questions such as; Where will everyone eat? Is there enough seating for everyone to watch TV together? Are there enough bathrooms? What is a loft bedroom and are you comfortable without a door?
10) Getting into the cabin. I’ve read plenty of reviews that complain about the number of steps one has to climb just to get to the front door of many cabins.I think to myself “Didn’t they look at the pictures?” I considered buying a cabin that had 45 steps just to get to the front door. Until I saw it in person I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Once I saw it I changed my mind and passed on the cabin. If you travel with a lot of luggage, bring coolers and food or have small kids or elderly adults with you then find a cabin with a level entry. If you’re a fitness junkie you may love the 45 stairs workout…book away! Again, study your own situation and find a cabin that matches your needs.
11) You have to climb the mountain to see the view. It boggles my mind the number of people that complain about driving up steep roads to book cabins with wonderful views. The unfortunate fact is those amazing views almost always come at the top of the mountain and those drives many times include steep narrow roads and often steep driveways. Again, read the reviews about the cabin, if it’s a scary drive up people will make note of that in their reviews.

I hope these few tips you find useful in renting your next log cabin, if you have more to add please reply to this post. In the meantime, book your cabin and have a great Smoky Mountains vacation! We hope to see you soon!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


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