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“Peaceful cabins”
Review of Dancing Bear Lodge

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Dancing Bear Lodge
Ranked #1 of 10 Hotels in Townsend
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 26, 2011

We stayed overnight at this friendly, relaxing lodge prior to beginning our vacation at nearby Blackberry Farm. Our luxury category cabin was excellent -- outfitted with a very comfortable bed, leather chairs, wood-buring fireplace (though the August weather was too hot and humid to enjoy it or the jacuzzi on the private porch), modern bathroom and kitchenette. Surrounding the cabins is a trail through the woods, nice for walking our dog. Dancing Bear warmly welcomed our vizsla Henry with prior notice and a reasonable fee (bring your own crate, bed and bowls). The centerpiece of the property is a beautiful Montana-style lodge with a deck for outdoor dining. The food was really good -- creative (a fresh tomato and greens salad topped with fried okra) and well prepared (duck with grits, tea-brined pork tenderloin with succotash). The wine list is well-selected and fairly priced. The cocktails are good, but pricey for this neighborhood (margarita same price as in Manhattan). Finally, for what the dinner service lacked in polish, was made up for in warmth and friendliness. The lodge is convenient to the Cades Cove section of the Smoky Mountain NP offering great hiking and biking trails. Dancing Bear is a good choice or on its own or a perfect combination with a Blackberry Farm getaway. We will return, likely in the autumn when we can enjoy the colors of the season and cooler weather. Thanks Melanie and team.

Room Tip: Rabbit for porch privacy
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  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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3  Thank KPTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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566 - 572 of 623 reviews

Reviewed August 9, 2011

We came to the Dancing Bear on a Sunday, and have to agree with earlier reviews in regards to the short staffing and amenites. The Lodge is beautiful, but I was rather shocked that the property was so short staffed. Upon arrival, we had several suitcases and bags, and there was no person on hand to help us manuever our goods up two flights of open wooden steps to our second floor room in the lodge. There was no elevator, either. The front desk staff did everything from checking in, to maintainging the breakfast buffet(which could have been a lot better for the money in this category),to doing bartender duty-a seperate bar would have been a lot nicer. Dinner the one night we were able to have it(the restaurant was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) was wonderful. Why couldn't the breakfast be improved to this quality. We are avid newspaper readets, and the guest book says there is only one paper to be had, and it was not to leave the lobby-that's pretty sad. We noticed the road noise, but it didn't affect our sleeping. The TVs need to be updated for a hotel in this class. We liked the quietness of the location compared to the visual blight in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville

  • Stayed: August 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank steelpanwoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DancingBearOwner, Owner at Dancing Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded August 24, 2011

Dear Steelpanwoman,

Thank you for your review of Dancing Bear Lodge. We appreciate your feedback. I apologize no one offered to help you with your bags and I have addressed this with our hotel manager. The TV's in the lodge rooms are being upgraded as soon as new cable is run and the digital conversion is complete.

We look forward to seeing you again at Dancing Bear Lodge. Please feel free to contact me directly at matt@dancingbearlodge.com

Best,

Matt Alexander
Managing Partner

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2011

What a wonderful place to unwind & be treated like family.....no,even better than that ! Everything was just wonderful...from check in to check out. Chef Jeff is awesome ! Cannot say enough about the way we were treated....just great. Top of the line service.....with that down home feeling we love. Absolutely recommend Dancing Bear Lodge to anyone wanting a bit of pampering while away from home visiting the area....or if you live in the area.....just to enjoy a night away or a fabluous dinner!

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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2  Thank Carolyn05758
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2011

We just returned home from 3 nights at the Dancing Bear Lodge where we had a wonderful experience. From the beginning of our stay, the employees went out of their way to make our stay as pleasant as possible. The front desk people were always friendly and helpful. One employee even walked to our cabin to help us with the wifi. Turns out, it was our computer not the wifi that was the problem. The breakfast every morning was very tasty, especially the quiche. They even gave me the recipe for it. The cabin was so comfortable we hestated to even leave.
The only negative was the hiking/biking trail. It really needs some attention for biking, but honestly I don't think anyone goes to the Dancing Bear Lodge to hike or bike the 2 mile trail when there are so many other places in the area that would be better. All in all, we have a great stay, and hope to go back soon.

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Thank FrannieH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DancingBearOwner, Owner at Dancing Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded August 7, 2011

Thank you for your review. Our team loves knowing they have exceeded our guests' expectations. You will be happy to know we have cleaned up our mountain biking/walking trails. The spring storms were tough on them, but they are all cleaned up and ready for enjoyment.

Best,

Matt Alexander
Managing Partner

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2011

We stayed at Dancing Bear Lodge with our son in November and it was great. We informed him (he was 14) that this was a "back to nature" kind of trip and there would be no roller coasters or pools and such. We had such a great time hiking, fishing (get the guide) and hanging out! The food in the lodge was great! We even went over to Blackberry Farms one night for dinner and I have to say the food was equally as good at the Lodge. The only bad thing is that the service is just average -- maybe a little training is in order. Definately recommend for a nice family trip!

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank Griffith4464
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DancingBearOwner, Owner at Dancing Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 31, 2011

We are so happy Dancing Bear Lodge was your "back to nature" Basecamp. Thank you for your review. Our team appreciates both the positive and constructive feedback. If you have a moment, I would love to hear more about the average service. Please feel free to email me directly at matt@dancingbearlodge.com.

Best,

Matt Alexander
Managing Partner

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2011

We absolutely love spending the weekend at Dancing Bear Lodge. We live in Maryville and love having a short drive to a beautiful destination that feels away from home. And, our money stays right here in Blount County. We have only stayed in the cabins; we really like having our own space. We always plan one dinner at the Lodge; they have some of the best meals I have ever had. The service is excellent from the servers to the ladies at the front desk. Everyone is so pleasant. This past year, we have gone in December, February, May and July. I love enjoying the different seasons up there. It is so peaceful and relaxing. I would highly recommend planning a trip now!

  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
1  Thank katherinebestcaputo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DancingBearOwner, Owner at Dancing Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 31, 2011

Thank you! We love seeing you all at Dancing Bear every few months.

Sincerely,

Matt Alexander

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2011

Dancing Bear Lodge often mentions that it is a "sister" property of Blackberry Farms, ($1,000-$5,000 a night) which was recently rated the #1 place to stay in the US & Canada by Travel and Leisure. This relationship logically lends itself to certain expectations in considerations for staying here. During our five night stay few of those expectations were realized.

The Lodge, located in the "Peaceful side of the Smokies," was anything but peaceful and quiet. Nestled on the side of a mountain with the main road running through the valley below offered a constant droning of Tractor Trailers and Motorcycles. The quaintness of the tin roof soon looses its appeal during a downpour as you have to shout to be heard. Sleeping in the upstairs bedroom would be impossible due to the noise. The noise from falling Hickory nuts onto the Tin roof never ceased to startle us during our stay.

This is not a Green Resort. No recycling offered. High flow shower heads.

Reservations:

The process of making reservations was wonderful and lent itself to what one might expect in making reservations at Blackberry Farms. Every question was answered professionally and politely and you are given all the time you need. When queried, suggestions were given by the staff as to how to make the visit special and memorable for my wife as we were celebrating her birthday there. I was told during this process that nothing is more important than the guest.

Occasionally, when calling you may get a message stating that other guests were being taken care of, to leave a number and they would call back. This may, in part, be true. What is unsaid is that the Lodge appears to be woefully understaffed (especially weekdays) and that the desk agent may be in the kitchen or even helping housecleaning.

Check In:

Quick, courteous and professional. We were handed a property may with our cabin circled and told to look for the cabin name on a sign out front. We had no problem finding our cabin but the sign was missing. There are no numbers on the cabins.

The Cabin:

Ours was a 2 bedroom cabin which, for only $20 more than a one bedroom, we felt was worth the cost for the extra room offered. The cabin was rustically furnished offering little room to walk around, but comfortable. More could have been done to improve the lighting within the cabin. Light switches were unmarked and confusing in function. One wall had a switch for a ceiling light but you had to go to the back wall to turn on the ceiling light next to it.

The TV needed two remotes to operate. One for volume. One to change channels. No instructions were provided.

There was a guest book in the cabin but it listed cabin "numbers" for on property calling. This made no sense as cabins were given names and not numbers. There was no mention made on how to call the front desk. A sample menu was listed for the lodge which stated a 15% gratuity was added to dinner checks. The actual gratuity charged is 18%. This was pointed out to staff but the advertised gratuity listed was not offered, nor was a change made to the booklet. The front desk said that it was on the "to do" list but there hadn't been time to correct it.

The kitchen was large with dishes provided. (If you find a brown handled spoon there it's mine, I forgot it.) The cabinets are in need of repair with the facing and back panels separating. The kitchen faucet leaked horribly. This too was brought to their attention(within an hour of check in) with a promise made to repair it the next morning. It took four days for the faucet to be replaced. The coffee filters provided were too large for the coffee maker and a lot of grounds got into the coffee. Cleaning the coffee maker took a long time as there were grounds everywhere. Housekeeping did address this issue the very day mentioned with a special trip to the local store for a proper sized filter.

There was only one bathroom and it was very small. The toilet tank top was completely cracked, the seat caps were missing and urine stained. The toilet floor bolt caps were also missing and stained. There was no room to place toiletries on the sink counter. Storage was available in the cabinet underneath. Difficult at best for two people let alone the four the cabin is meant to hold. A small hand soap was provided but there was no soap dish. You had to use a washcloth to keep it from sliding into the sink. The cracked toilet seat was replaced the day after check in. There is little room in the shower for personal toiletries. The shower head was unsecured and moved easily.

WiFi worked the entire stay.

There is a two person hot tub on the back deck. The tub light and secondary jets didn't work. Repairs were never made. We were told that the water is changed by maintenance "after every guest." The water did not appear fresh and there was sand/dirt on the bottom of the tub.

The Lodge.

In a word, beautiful.

A common hot tub is provided out back but it was unusable. The top had collapsed and filled with moldy water. No safety barrier for children was up even though children were observed running around the edges of the tub. We were told heavy rains collapsed the top. S'mores were provided at least one night.

Food:

Breakfast was typical Continental fare. Quiche as provided but not labeled as to which kind it was. This may be important if you have allergies. Regardless, it was Ham & Cheese every day. Better Breakfasts, with more variety, can be had at a Hampton Inn.

Table linens were starched beyond use. The restroom in the Lodge only provided a roll of paper towels to dry your hands with. One night there were unusable as the whole roll was soaked by wet hands using the roll.

On a weekday, we went for breakfast and nobody was in the Lodge and the breakfast buffet was not out. Walking out we ran into a housekeeping employee who found the one staff member on duty that day for us so she could take our order. The buffet is not put out for a small number of guests. No notice nor mention was made of this during our stay.

The dinner food was truly exceptional. We ate there three nights. The menu is supposed to change daily but it's more of a reshuffling of ingredients for the entree accompaniments. The main entrees were the same, rotated on different days.

Dinner staff was indifferent and rarely came back except to bring the check. When a specific allergy was mentioned during ordering, a chefs appetizer was brought to the table containing the very thing we couldn't eat. A forced gratuity of 18% was unreasonable for the level of service provided. $100 meals for two should offer a corresponding level of attention.

Staff & Housekeeping:

Promises were readily made to address hygienic concerns with our cabin but follow up was either slow in addressing the concern or not addressed at all. Two special events were planned for our cabin for a special occasion (wine, chocolate covered strawberries, rose petals and candles) and this was done flawlessly. Well worth the expense.

Of particular concern is that housekeeping threw away a personal, very large gift bag that was against the sofa and nowhere near a trash can. This we found inexcusable.

Summary.

A rough diamond with potential to really shine. The lodge appears understaffed with employees charged with doing many tasks. There is only one maintenance person with a back up from Blackberry Farms. Our cabin needed a face lift if not a complete makeover.
In a local article it was quoted that the owner can be found greeting guests of out on his bike. We never saw, nor heard from him regarding our concerns. The Lodge did, appropriately, offer us a discount on our stay. We would have rather paid full price and had the experience promised. We probably wouldn't go back without assurance that improvements had been made.

Room Tip: Ask for a one bedroom cabin, far from the street, to lessen the daily road noise.
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  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank Zdc2152
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DancingBearOwner, Owner at Dancing Bear Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 18, 2011

Please accept my apologies for your experience. I wish I could have met you personally, and mostly, I wish our team could have resolved the issues listed while you were staying with us. The reservationist mentioned that nothing is more important than our guests. This is true and our team is very disappointed with this review. We strive daily to take care of our guests and our property. We obviously failed you and our own expectations. However, this review and one other before yours has served as a big wake up to our team. The issues you listed have nothing to do with expense or staffing—we simply allowed things to slip and are focused on making the right. I appreciate you mixing positive elements of your stay with the negative and I appreciate you noting that we did attempt to resolve and compensate for our mistakes.
I hope you will return to Dancing Bear Lodge as I assure you our team has resolved these issues.
Sincerely,

Matt Alexander
Managing Partner

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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 Dancing Bear Lodge

Address: 7140 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Townsend, TN 37882-3818
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Tennessee > Townsend
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 Hotels in Townsend
Price Range: $164 - $281 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Dancing Bear Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 29
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Centered in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dancing Bear Lodge is known as East Tennessee's ultimate vacation basecamp offering charming Southern hospitality. It's picturesque location and luxurious amenities offer guests an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after trekking mountain trails and exploring surrounding areas. With 36 acres featuring intimate rustic cabins and countless sports and activities, Dancing Bear Lodge creates a comforting retreat tailor-made for the adventurer in all of us. We welcome our guests to experience the best the Smokies have to offer by reserving one of our charming cabins. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dancing Bear Hotel Townsend

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