Since the early 80's, our family has owned two weeks in July at this time share resort. Normally, we have been reasonably happy with the resort. So it is with some regret that I write this scathing review.
Bear in mind, the weeks before, during, and after July 4th are the busiest weeks in the summer Gatlinburg resort market. Why would anyone ever schedule onerous and loud projects during peak season , especially when it is not emergency work?
Today, since 8am on a Tuesday, I have had Yellow Tape out in front our unit. Hammers banging away. Drills hammering through concrete. Workmen clanging. All of this is right outside door. The sign on the yellow tape said for residents ot to use the elevator. Let's hope noone is handicapped on the upper floors, since that is the only ADA access to the upper floors.
But that is not all. My unit is at the end of the A building. The C Building was under construction on Sunday, yes, Sunday, all day Sunday. The C & A building are next to one another, and the units under construction were on the end of the building next to A, so we could hear through the wall of our unit saws ripping wood, drills, and I think we even heard a hammer drill or jack hammer. Enjoy a nice relaxing sit in the rocking chair on the balcony.. with all the construction ruckus. Ahhh.. the mountains.
Monday, seven or eight parking spaces in front of A building, most of the parking for those units, were taped off, preventing access and use for most of the day to those units, 4 floors of units.
On other fronts, when I arrived at the resort, I had trouble even accessing the room. I always arrive After Hours, and there is a After Hours lock box service to gain your room key. This year, the 3rd party call center had no record of my arrival, and therefore did not have a key. It turns out, after finding another number to call into the system, that they were able to find a person who works at the resort who had not been at work in several days, who answered the call from her second job. She was able to let me into the lock box, and sure enough my key was in the box. The resort staff simply had not given that information to the answering service. The staff member who was on call that night, July 5th, was not answering her phone. So, it was dumb luck that Kayla answered her phone when she was not even On Call, and she at work at her second job. If she had not answered, I would have had to seek a hotel room elsewhere at 11:45pm with a cooler full of food that would have spoiled by morning in unless the hotel room had a refrigerator.
As for the unit itself, the furnishings in the living room have not been updated in about a decade. The dining room table has a leg that will collapse and send the entire table to the floor. The coffee table has a similar problem, so don't put your feet up on it, or rest anything more than the weight of a magazine. The sliding glass doors are in poor repair, and look to be about 30 years old, and do not securely shut. You can hear the traffic from all those fun loving & adventuresome Harley Davidson riders going by the road, just below the entire stretch of the A & C buildings. Leaving the resort, you are taking you life into your own hands since the driveway is a very steep and access the road from the inside of a blind hairpin turn. There was a fish eye mirror across the street, but since last year, someone has customized it by apparently gun shots. Gives a very homey, Mountain feel.
If you are used to good service when you are traveling, Gatlinburg is NOT the place. It's a have/have not demographic were a very few people own most of the property and businesses, rents are sky high, and wages are very low, and somehow, people just see fit to move away to find better work. Then there are the exchange students that soak up the jobs that locals would have worked, so that all adds up to a train wreck when it comes to hiring qualified management and employees. (I have a cousin who used to manage a corporate restaurant int his market, and he is thankful they have relocated him out of the market since the quality of labor here is very difficult to work with.)
We had been up in the park to photograph the sunset, and came straight down by about 9 or 9:15pm. To see the sunset, you really do have to go up the Park Road to almost to Newfound Gap, or drive over to Pigeon Forge. Kitchens, even in the summer months, shut down right around 9:30 or 10pm in Gatlinburg. So to eat and see the sunset, you really have to time it just right or you'll end up eating at Denny's.
There are several nice looking "featured" restaurants at the gateway to the National Park. We tried them all, and did not succeed in eating a meal. Calhoun's sat us for dinner, and noone spoke to our table for 10 minutes. We got up to leave, and noone stopped us. I had to actually say something to the hostess as we left, because she did not even notice that the table she just ushered in, was on their way out the door. No, it was not crowded, and we were the only people in the lobby as we left. And better still the manager was right there, and said nothing, even though he overheard my letting the hostess know of our departure and why we were leaving. So, we go across the street to the Cherokee Grill. The Host was unable to read the seating chart, honestly said he was new, and needed to find someone to help us. He never returned. So we left. We went to the Park Grill, and by now it is 9:45pm, about an hour after sunset. Their kitchen was already closed. We finally ended up at the Volunteer Pizza place on Ski Mountain Road, not really a sit down joint, but mostly deliveries. Jim and Gina runa legit pizza joint, and at least we had a good pizza with nice, intelligent, normal people.
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