Mountains & Shine

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


Pigeon Forge

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


An Afternoon in Pigeon Forge

Wondering what there is to do in Pigeon Forge?  The answer is: PLENTY!  Driving through the touristy looking strip can be rather overwhelming with so many similar looking options for your family’s entertainment pleasure.  Let us break it down a bit and help you out with a couple of our favorites!

No visit to the Smokies feels complete without a stop at Mel’s Diner and The Track.  In fact, those are two things our kids ask for each and every time we’re in town!

The Track just so happens to be located across the Parkway from Mel’s Diner.  On our last visit, we started our afternoon at The Track- it was early and we’d had a late breakfast and stuffed ourselves full (who doesn’t with all those great pancake house options!) so we thought we’d work up an appetite first. Since we return often, we keep our re-loadable card on us.  The Track has other locations around the country and you can use your card at all the locations. Once we loaded back up, we headed over to “Kid’s Country ” so the littlest brother could get his fill of driving the smaller cars on his own. They’ve got height maximums and minimums at both of these little tracks, so your littlest ones won’t be run down by unruly drivers!  You’ll also find plenty of other fun rides for little ones like a train, merry go round, swings, and so much more.  I was impressed at how kind and caring the employees were, tending to some of the littlest “drivers” on this visit.  After a couple of rides in Kid’s Country, we headed to bumper boats (note:  you WILL get wet!) and bumper cars.  You can also play mini-golf here, too. If it’s really hot, the indoor arcade is always nice and cool and the perfect place to rest and cool down.

The big kids were ready for some fun next.  They’ve got single cars, and for the little ones who want the thrill of the big cars, they have doubles so mom or dad can drive but they get to ride along. After a couple spins around “The Wild Woody” we’d worked up an appetite.

We hopped in the car and drove across the street to Mel’s.  Our kids have found plenty on the kid’s menu but our older two are particularly fond of their chicken pot pie (seriously!).  We’ve tried almost everything on the menu and have always been pleased.  They always have great food served with a smile!  You’ll find typical diner food here, lots of good comfort food, too!  Burgers, fries, sandwiches, breakfast, chicken fingers, soups. Sometimes it gets busy and there is a wait, but it’s worth it.  It’s a great little diner atmosphere with fun, vintage signs, offering plenty to chuckle about…and lots of memories of the good ol’ days!

Like I said, we worked up an appetite and they keep the dessert menu conveniently at the table.  We’ve all got a crazy sweet tooth so ordering the 6 dip banana split was a no-mels-collagebrainer.  Here’s the before and after once five of us dug in:

We’ll be headed back real soon, I’m sure!



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