Mountains & Shine

things to see and do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville



Listing Site Service Fees Explained… Or Do You Have Money To Burn?

Did you know listing sites like VRBO, TripAdvisor/FlipKey and AirBnB charge the traveler an additional 5-15% of your rental total?  It’s often hidden among the charges or not clearly marked, making many travelers think the fees belong to the owner.  They do not.   Read on to find out more.  The original post can also be found by following the link below or clicking here.

These fees may seem minimal, but often can equal what you’d pay for a nice (or several) meal out while vacationing, or a week’s worth of groceries to stock the fridge and feed your family while you stay at your vacation rental.  The sites often use scare tactics to make guests feel their fees are justified and required for a trustworthy experience.

An easy way to save this fee and get personalized, friendly service is to contact owners directly outside of these sites.  We’ll share more about that in a future post.

If you have arrived at this page then you may well have searched for Guest Service Fees, why you are being asked to pay them when booking a vacation rental and why they even exist!

NO: We anticipate up to 90% of “full properties” (not shared accommodation) can be booked direct and on other sites more cheaply and do not carry these punishing costs. [our page is example of where you can book direct]
Booking direct always gives the best results, as you are dealing with the actual manager or owner. Who else knows the property and location better: those on-site or an advertising website in San Francisco which has pictures, writing and promises!
Many guests are new to booking online and will research, quite naturally, by gravitating to these biggest, slickest and most advertised or recognized brand in the business. These are more often the ones that have paid the most money to be at the top of Google or another search engine.

Read the entire story


Pancake Pantry: What to Know! (Besides YUM!)

We’ve been to Gatlinburg far more times thpantry collage2an I can count.  We’ve tried to go to the Pancake Pantry at least twice.  That long line will scare many o’ folks away!  On our last trip, we decided we were all in and we MUST go.  We were not disappointed, but there are some things you should know.

1.) Bring CASH!  I knew this, but “forgot” to mention it to my husband.  Fortunately, he had the cash to cover our meal.  Even if he didn’t, there is a conveniently located ATM inside. Never mind all the CASH ONLY signs we apparently looked past on our way in and during our wait…which brings me to the next point.

Complimentary Coffee

2.) Be prepared to wait.  Feed the kids a small breakfast to keep the whining at bay or plan accordingly.  Hubby and I didn’t eat but the kids had a small bite before we left our cabin.  Our wait was about 30 minutes on a chilly morning. Not too bad. We’ve seen the lines snaking all the way  back into the fountain area of The Village during peak seasons and peak times.
They offer complimentary coffee if you just can’t wait or need to warm up!  Lots of folks appreciated and took advantage of that on a chilly morning. There was a young man taking names and party sizes near the end of the line. Someone from your party must stay in line.

3.) Bring your appetite!  First, the decisions on what to order were not easy.  There are so many scrumptious options.  Then, when our meals came, boy are we glad we brought our appetites! The plates were filled generously.  At our table we had a couple of meals from the kids menu, Swiss chocolate pancakes, wildberry crepes, and eggs with a shortstack. I think we all left a little on our plates due to the generous portions! I had coffee as I always do with any delicious breakfast-the creamer comes in little copper containers and made my coffee taste that much better. I’m a sucker for things like that!

On the menu, they have box lunches if you’re the adventurous type and headed into the park for the afternoon.  You can order those with your breakfast and they’ll be ready when you leave. They’re a one stop shop!

We really loved our time at the Pancake Pantry. The tables are packed in pretty tight and it was pretty loud but the delicious food and great service was worth it! It’s so indulgent and a little more pricey than our usual pancake place, but certainly a lovely treat.  Of course, we know many people who never miss a visit to the Pancake Pantry when they’re in town.  Maybe we’ll add ourselves to that list.

Hmmm…wonder what I’ll order next time…

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