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“Don't stay at the cottages”

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Unicoi State Park & Lodge
Ranked #9 of 18 Hotels in Helen
Reviewed September 20, 2009

We've stayed in Georgia state park cottages before at three other parks and been happy with the cabins -- great price, usually in locations you can't find a hotel in, and good scenery -- so despite mixed reviews about Unicoi cottages on travel sites, we decided to book one of the barrel cottages on the lake. The cottages are cramped, dark (no windows on two sides) and squeezed together. Entry porches are shared with another cottage, meaning less privacy than usual in state park cabins. Unless you're there when leaves are off the trees, there is no view of the lake, really.
The first cabin we were assigned to smelled musty downstairs; upstairs, it smelled like an animal had died in the walls. We asked for another cottage and moved to one next door; the desk clerk said it wasn't uncommon for flying squirrels to get in the cabins and die. This cabin smelled clean and we moved in -- only to find rodent droppings in a kitchen cabinet, dishes and glasses with greasy smears and food stains in cabinets (guests are supposed to wash them before leaving, and there is no dishwasher) and stained sheets and dead bugs in one bed. The lodge staff was very nice the next morning when we asked for fresh sheets and sent housekeeping out to replace the sheets and deal with the mold in the bathroom. By then, we had already washed all the dishes and glasses, removed the rodent droppings, shook all the old crumbs out of the toaster, etc. They also said they would adjust our bill, something I didn't ask for but that was certainly called for in this case.
The next morning, we found fresh rodent droppings along the kitchen counter. Mentioned it to the guy at checkout and he said I'd already gotten a discount .... um, dude, how about taking the advice the way it was meant, and DEAL WITH THE MOUSE PROBLEM! We would never stay there again, and based on this experience are much less likely to stay in any other Georgia state park cottages. I know the state is having budget problems and the department that oversees parks is particularly hard hit, but at $140 a night for a two-bedroom, one-bath cottage, you ought to get something that's at least clean, even if it's not that up-to-date. Private cabins in the area rent for about that price or a little more, and ones I saw on my visit were new, scrupulously clean and much better equipped. We were told on renting that the cabins had been renovated in the past two or three years. The kitchen seemed updated, if small; the rest of the cottage just felt old and tired.
Also -- some of these cottages require a walk of about 400 feet or so from the parking area, over a gravel path with a lot of steps. Not much fun when you're toting a cooler and a bunch of suitcases.

Stayed: September 2009, traveled with family
13  Thank 8tracktape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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581 - 587 of 595 reviews

Reviewed July 26, 2009

We were so looking forward to enjoying time on a lake. When I found Unicoi's website with its spectacular photo of a huge lake, offering swimming and canoeing, a lodge with an adjacent restaurant, I thought, this is the place. We'd been to other Georgia State Parks and never been disappointed. When we arrived for our getaway weekend, we were told canoes are only available on Wednesdays. All meals were all you can eat buffets, not a real restaurant. When we got to the lake the next morning to rent paddleboats (trying to make the best of our vacation), we were told to wait in line. You couldn't sign up, there were no reservations, it was Saturday and only 6 boats. There was no place to sit, we had to stand for an hour to get into our paddleboat. You can't swim in the lake. We drove all this way to swim and the only option was a tiny, maybe 3000 sq foot cordoned off area filled with children that goes about waist high. You wouldn't be able to do one stroke without hitting a child. There is no lifeguard, no first aid squad, nothing. At the restaurant, besides the insult of having to eat buffet style for every meal, they had one staff person running the register, seating people and wiping down tables. So we waited one time for almost 10 minutes just to sit down in a half empty restaurant to get at a buffet. And the lake? On the website it looks like a spectacular, big lake. Clearly photographed with a wide angle lens, it's a small lake you can paddleboat around in a half hour.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank LaviniaPlonka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2009

We stayed at Smith Creek Cottage unit #10 in June, 2009, free gratis due to the poor condition of unit #7 that we stayed in last fall before the renovation. The cottages have been totally refurbed with a second bathroom added (comes in very handy) and the old bathroom completely redone, new windows, new paint on outside, new kitchen appliances with a small dishwasher added, new central a/c heating unit ..... etc.

The only downside was that the same old living room furniture was still there ...... the furniture needs to be replaced or re-upholstered and some of the tables need to be replaced or sanded and refinished.

Also, the kitchen table needs to be replaced with a smaller table as I couldn't even open the utensil drawer all the way. If the above aforementioned were to take place then I would not hestitate for one minute to recommend Smith Creek Cottages to anyone.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Robbie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2008

We stayed at the Unicoi State Park in the Smith Creek Cottages
number 5. Upon arrival we were very disapointed in the filth inside.We decided to make the best of it and spent several
hours cleaning. We had to buy covers for all the furniture. After a
long day we were very tired and were ready for a good night sleep. When we laid down on the board. No mispelling here
the bed was like a rock. We all woke up with back aches even
our 6 year old. The cottage was also infested with bugs. I would
never stay there again.

  • Stayed: August 2008
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7  Thank lemo229
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2008

My family and I stayed at the Unicoi State Park Lodge in a 2 BR Barrel cottage. More than what we expected ! The cottage was so spacious for 2 families with children. Full kitchen, living room with fire place, upstairs bedrooms and a porch outside overlooking the lake. So Peaceful! Heads up, NO TV ! The location was convenient to Helen Georgia where we spent most of our days. Anna Ruby Falls was Breathtaking and not too far away. This place was perfect. We will stay here again, longer though.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank eew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 17, 2008

I stayed at this lodge for a conference, so the cost of the room was already paid for.

The room was small and in fair condition. There are common areas in the center of each building that serve as a nice area to relax, however it can be annoying if people are out there making noise while you are trying to sleep. The common areas include couches, chairs, a t.v. and fireplace. There are also outdoor common areas with chairs and tables.

The lodge itself is in fair condition, but it does show signs of age. The restaurant is typical southern buffet, nothing exceptional, but a great variety of fried foods.

Overall, I think this is an acceptable place to stay, however for the current prices they are charging, I believe you could find a better deal closer to Helen. If you are interested in being close to the natural wonders of the Appalachians, perhaps Unicoi is a good choice for you. There are trails on site, as well as the lake, beach, and access to Anna Ruby Falls.

I am bringing the family back to Unicoi for camping, but I would not pay to stay at the lodge.

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled on business
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3  Thank bubba375
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2008

Property is very dated. The entire lodge B is musty inside, and smells old. The "game room" should not even be listed in the property details. There are three items in the "game room". First, there is ONE pinball machine, with one fully functional flipper. Next, there is an air hockey machine with no puck. Last, there is a pool table, that only has 8 balls, and no cue ball. All the cue sticks except 1 have no tips. Sadly, they were more than happy to give me change to play in the "game room" without pointing out that nothing in there works.

If you want to stay at a state park lodge, try Amicolola Falls. Their Lodge is beautiful. If you are staying at Unicoi, stay in a cabin. The lodge is not nearly worth the price. There are more affordable hotels in Helen that are nicer.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank Hiker_Georgia_CSG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Unicoi State Park & Lodge

Address: 1788 Highway 356, P. O. Box 849, Helen, GA 30545-2326
Location: United States > Georgia > Helen
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 18 Hotels in Helen
Price Range: $88 - $141 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Unicoi State Park & Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 130
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Unicoi State Park Hotel Helen
Unicoi State Park Lodge And Conference Center Helen
Unicoi State Park Helen

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