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Old May 14, 2006, 09:13 PM   #1
ACrider333
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Question Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I am in the process of trying to plan a vacation family-get together style for late May 2007 - we are looking to meet in the Gatlinburg TN area and my hope is to use two of my banked weeks to secure nice accomodations for all of us.

Any suggestions of RCI resorts to use or stay away from? All comments appreciated!

Here are the choices I have, from what I can tell:
Acadia Smoky Mountain Resort
Gatlinburg Town Square
Hideaway Hills
Laurel Crest
Laurel Point Resort
Mountainloft
Mountain Meadows Pinecrest Townhomes
Sunrise Ridge Resort
Tree Tops Resort
Crown Park Resort
Fairfield Smoky Mnt at Governorís Crossing
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Old May 14, 2006, 11:01 PM   #2
DianneL
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

We own at Tree Tops and can give some info about it, but don't have experience with the others. Tree Tops is a great resort. It is well maintained and the setting is near the park, with lots of trees and a mountain stream running through the property. It is quiet. We love it. However, it is not within walking distance of the Gatlinburg shopping area. Hope you find the resort that is just right for you.
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Old May 15, 2006, 08:10 AM   #3
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

If you want to be within walking distance to Gatlinburg shops, restaurants, and activities, your best choices are Gatlinburg Town Square or the new Crown Park being build next door. You won't get sweeping mountain views and open spaces at either resort because they are located in town. I have only stayed at Town Square and can tell you that we have always enjoyed our visits. The traffic can be pretty crazy especially on weekends, so we like to park the car for the weekend. We plan our driving activities for weekdays when the traffic is not as heavy.

Hope this helps.
Kathy
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Old May 15, 2006, 12:42 PM   #4
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

This is the kind of question that is best answered by looking at the resort reviews - for members only. Then you could see the specific reasons that people liked or disliked each resort, to evaluate whether they would matter to you.

It sounds like you plan to visit after Memorial Day weekend so it will be in full swing for summer crowds. If you plan to drive around and visit a variety of attractions and areas, then your location matters less. If you want to spend most of your time in downtown Gatlinburg then stay there in Gatlinburg Town Square or Crown Park. If you want to spend more time at Dollywood and/or the Pigeon Forge shows/outlets, then I'd suggest Fairfield, Sunrise or Laurel Crest. I don't know much about the others.

We are Fairfield points owners and we enjoy the Fairfield resort there, with its spacious rooms and fun activities. Hope this helped somewhat.
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Old May 15, 2006, 03:47 PM   #5
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

The only two resorts on your list where we've stayed are Tree Tops in Gatlinburg and FFGovernor's Crossing in PF. We loved them both! If I had the opportunity to return to either I wouldn't hesitate and would only choose between them based on whether I was more interested in mountain activities (Gatlinburg) or touristy activities (Pigeon Forge).
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Old May 15, 2006, 07:10 PM   #6
rudymcbill
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

We're partial to being close to the park and hiking, with small journeys into Gatlinburg. We've stayed at Mountain Loft both times we have gone.
The views of the mountains are wonderful from most of the units, as well as the pools and lounge areas. There is a town shuttle stop across the road from the resort entrance that you can ride, and avoid the parking/traffic issues of downtown.

It's about 5 minutes outside of Gatlinburg, with a grocery store right around the corner.
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Old May 15, 2006, 08:40 PM   #7
ACrider333
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it.

I gave RCI a call and at the moment, there is not 2 2-bedroom condos is available the last two weeks of May 2007 at Fairfield or Tree Tops, which were my top picks from my research.

Availability for 2 places is available at Laurel Point Resort and at Sky View Resort (the latter over Memorial Day weekend, which would be nice). Anybody know about these in particular?

I was told a few things and was wondering what the opinion/experiences have been here:
1-"Fairfield Smoky Mountains" would be very difficult to exchange for a 2 bedroom because the units are lockoff units and most people who have them trade them in as 2 1-bedroom units, so I'd have to use two exchange weeks to get 2 1-bedroom units and end up with 1 2-bedroom unit. Does this sound right? Anybody familiar with Fairfield to know if this is the case there?
2-I was encouraged strongly to take one of the above two availabilities because finding 2 2-bedroom units is difficult, and doing so over Memorial Day week would be "near impossible" (though I was welcome to go on the waiting list and find out for myself)

Any insight appreciated!
Amanda
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Old May 15, 2006, 10:43 PM   #8
sandcastles
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I own at Ski View Resort. I'm not sure how to say how I feel about it. It has the best view of any of the resorts. It is up higher than Ober Gatlinburg and the ski lift. It does not have a very good rating.

There are no activities at all. There is a small indoor pool that is clean but very unattractive looking. There is also a hot tub and a sauna. There is 1 TS building and 1 whole ownership building. I believe there is 12 units in the TS, could possibly be 15. They are all 2 BR. It is 3 stories and no elevator. The way it is built into the mountain, I don't remember the 3 stories being a problem as far as stairs.

We haven't stayed there for 20 years but we have driven up there when we were in Gatlinburg and asked to see the units when they were vacant on check-in day. They were very clean, furnishings were just okay. They do have a w/d in each unit.

It is also a steep, curving road to the resort but that doesn't bother us.
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Old May 16, 2006, 04:27 AM   #9
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Red face Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

We own at Sunrise Ridge, a one bedroom unit. Last time we actually stayed there was before we bought. Thru RCI, we exchanged into it. When we were there that year was during the last week of April. The two bedroom unit was huge with a full kitchen, fireplace in the living room, 2 bedrooms with the master having a jacuzzi near the bed, ouside the bathroom vanity, with the toilet was a shower and another sink. The second bedroom had another bathroom and inside the bathroom was a washer and dryer. It had a beautiful balcony overlooking the mountains with adirondak type chairs. it was a deep balcony. I spent a lot of time out there and took some photos from our balcony. Unfortunately it rained a good bit that week though. The resort sits up on a hill. It is good to walk it because it gives good exercise. It is not within walking distance to anything. The resort has a few pools, including one indoor pool. During a morning breakfast that they do, activities poeple from some companies come and tell about their businesses, tours. We did a few shows while there and highly enjoyed them. We also did Comedy Barn which I did not think was all that great. We saw a magician at our own resort one day, Terry something. He had dark hair and was young and short. He chose me to stand up there with him while he did his magic, etc. I was told later that he picked me bacause I am very short, 4' 11", female. It is easier to do his show with a short person they told me. lol!!!! The outlet shopping is good and it is only a few miles from the resort. Besides Pigeon Forge, we drove to Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mts, which was a great drive. We also did Cherokee and then the casino there. I think it was a waste of our time to go to Cherokee, I hated it. We also went to Parrot Mt which is in the vicinity of Dollywood. You MUST do Parrot Mt. It is privately owned and the parrots are beautiful!!! You can meet the owner and he is so nice and gentle with the birds. Go during the week. Hope that you can make some great timeshare plans, good luck!

Last edited by Banker; May 16, 2006 at 04:30 AM.
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Old May 16, 2006, 06:14 AM   #10
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

The first exchange we ever made was to Club Chalet of Gatlinburg which turned out to be the worst exchange we ever made in our 20+ years of exchanging. This resort is made up of individual chalets up winding roads. The one we were assigned looked like it was privately owned and they had just taken it over and had done nothing to it. Huge windows with sheer curtains made for no privacy. Towel rods falling off the walls etc. II told us the wrong check in time and when we got there the office was closed and outside we found a box with keys and maps to find the place on our own in the dark. The next day we went to the office to complain and were told to come to a meeting where someone could help us. The meeting turned out to be a sales meeting to try and sell us a week at this mismanaged place! Boy was the salesperson sorry! He heard an earfull! When we got back we wrote a long letter to Interval and they gave us a coupon for a free exchange request. Hopefully they have gotten their act together after all these years.

We still laugh about this place today but we did manage to have a great vacation. There was ALOT to see and do for all ages. Hiking in the park, a visit to Biltimore House/Asheville, Ober Gatlinburg and the action in town. Dollywood wasn't even opened yet and we managed to have plenty to do.

My advice is to do your homework as to where the resort is located and if you want to be in the middle of the action or secluded on the side of a mountain. Also, check if the resort has it's own pool etc because we were there in April and Club Chalet's clubhouse was closed and they offered us use of a pool at another resort.
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Old May 16, 2006, 09:49 AM   #11
sfwilshire
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I go to the timeshare auctions in this county now and then and the homeowner's association buys ALL the units from Club Chalet back for $250 each. Nobody ever bids on any of them. I've been told some of the units are actually pretty nice, particularly the ones in town, but have never been interested enough to try to find out.

Sheila
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Old May 16, 2006, 04:14 PM   #12
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACrider333
Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it.

I gave RCI a call and at the moment, there is not 2 2-bedroom condos is available the last two weeks of May 2007 at Fairfield or Tree Tops, which were my top picks from my research.

Availability for 2 places is available at Laurel Point Resort and at Sky View Resort (the latter over Memorial Day weekend, which would be nice). Anybody know about these in particular?

I was told a few things and was wondering what the opinion/experiences have been here:
1-"Fairfield Smoky Mountains" would be very difficult to exchange for a 2 bedroom because the units are lockoff units and most people who have them trade them in as 2 1-bedroom units, so I'd have to use two exchange weeks to get 2 1-bedroom units and end up with 1 2-bedroom unit. Does this sound right? Anybody familiar with Fairfield to know if this is the case there?
2-I was encouraged strongly to take one of the above two availabilities because finding 2 2-bedroom units is difficult, and doing so over Memorial Day week would be "near impossible" (though I was welcome to go on the waiting list and find out for myself)

Any insight appreciated!
Amanda
I suspect that Fairfield Smoky Mountains would be either very difficult to trade into or very easy to trade into, depending on whether or not Fairfield happens to do a bulk spacebank for it. We got a 3 BR there in summer once when there was a bulk spacebank. Fairfield has been tending to reserve their most popular locations for Fairfield owners when there is little or no developer inventory to deposit.
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Old May 18, 2006, 12:18 AM   #13
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I agree with EAM - keep your eyes open for whenever Fairfield Smoky Mtns. does do their bulk spacebanking for this resort. Mid-May should be reasonably easy to get with a bulk banking and it's probably not been done yet for May 2007. They're still building there so new inventory will like be added in the next few months. If you want this resort or others, I'd suggest that you place an ongoing search request and wait a month or so.

FWIW, we've mostly stayed in dedicated 2BRs there - not lock-offs. While some Fairfields have only lock-offs for their larger units, this resort has both kinds of 2BRs. HTH.
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Old May 19, 2006, 04:48 PM   #14
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Re: Club Chalet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Princess Sunflower
The first exchange we ever made was to Club Chalet of Gatlinburg which turned out to be the worst exchange we ever made in our 20+ years of exchanging. This resort is made up of individual chalets up winding roads. The one we were assigned looked like it was privately owned and they had just taken it over and had done nothing to it...
I just came across this topic and thought I'd provide some info regarding Club Chalet. I just bought a 3rd week up there yesterday.

Club Chalet is a little different than the usual condominium type of timeshare. It consists of numerous chalets and townhouses scattered around Mt Harrison (Ski Mountain) in Gatlinburg right on the edge of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. They vary widely in size and how they look. I know that many of you folks prefer the more "slick" resort-type places with lots of amenities, but many of us love the Club Chalet experience. It's more along the lines of "rustic with all the conveniences of home." The units have full kitchens, washer/dryer, phone, cable tv, etc. Some are closer to downtown Gatlinburg, some (like mine) are up winding roads further up the mountain, which I find to be totally cool. One of my 3-bedroom units is at the end of a dead-end street halfway up the mountain, in the woods, with a stream running under the chalet. When I sit out on the big deck, I hear nothing but the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees, twigs cracking as wildlife wander around, and the occasional faint hum of the cable car going up the mountain. My Club Chalet weeks are true getaways... secluded, yet minutes from attractions like "downtown" Gatlinburg, the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge/Dollywood, etc. This type of timeshare isn't for everyone, but we love it.

The Club Chalet homeowners association recently staged a "coup" and pressured all but one of the Board members to resign, and replaced the property manager because they were dissatisfied with the financial management, customer service, and how the units were being kept up. A ton of renovations, painting, and improvements are now taking place to bring all the units up to a much higher level of asthetics and functionality. The staff that remained have great attitudes (owners report their more recent experiences up there are like day and night from "the old days") , and everyone is working together to greatly improve the units and the visitor experience. The homeowners association-owned units are being sold at a big discount to current owners to improve the maintenance fee cash flow and enable even more renovations. I'm very pleased with what's going on up there and can't wait to head up there in July to my "mountain hideaway in the woods."
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Old May 19, 2006, 07:11 PM   #15
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I have stayed at Fairfield Smoky Mnt Governorís Crossing and Mountainloft. Both of these were very nice, but Mountainloft had the best views. I have also toured Sunrise Ridge and the 2 bedroom was huge. I have walked around Gatlinburg Town Square and its location in Gatlinburg is hard to beat.
The resort with the best location in Pigeon Forge is Oakmont because you can walk to the Old Mill stores and the City Park/trolly stop. It is only a Silver Crown and is not as nice as some of the newer resorts, but I like it. I own a 2 bedroom float unit there and I am about to book a 2007 late May week. Since May is float time, you can only book a year in advance. Late May deposits for Oakmont may show up in a month or so.
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Old May 29, 2006, 08:46 PM   #16
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

How do I find out when Fairfield will do or is most likely to do a "bulk banking"?

Thanks for all the great info!!!
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Old June 11, 2006, 08:50 PM   #17
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Red face Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

I guess I was asking questions thinking I was going to have a choice. So far, no go. I have both of our banked weeks, 2005 and 2006, on a waiting list for a checkin on Memorial Day weekend at any of 10 different resprts that met the pass-test in the PF/Gat area.

I am hoping something comes through, and just as importantly, than two weeks in the same place come through.

I am thinking of opening up the search to include a check in of the week prior. can anyone tell me, if we were going to go the week prior to Memorial Day, are there any places/activites that would not be available to us as it might be considered pre-season? My other option would be to open up the search to a checkin date the following weekend, but that would be my kids last week of school and I would prefer to not take them out of school that week because of the activities they have going on then...

thanks for the info so far, you all have been very helpful!
Amanda
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Old June 13, 2006, 12:02 AM   #18
Lisa P
 
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

Amanda/ACrider333, the only thing that I can think of that may not be open prior to Memorial Day weekend would be the water parks. Dolly's Splash Country usually opens the weekend prior but it's not open on weekdays until after Memorial Day. Don't know about other water attractions in the area (like Ogle's) or outdoor resort pools.

The Nat'l Park, restaurants, shows and museums are all open for most of the year and certainly all through May. HTH.
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Old June 13, 2006, 10:37 AM   #19
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Re: Need help planning for Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge TN

Ogles' closed in '03, and was bulldozed and built over shortly thereafter, so don't worry about not being able to go there. As for other stuff, I think it's pretty much a 'round the calendar operation these days. If there is something in particular you are interested in then check with them specifically, otherwise rest assured that there will be plenty of things to keep you occupied.
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Old June 13, 2006, 12:01 PM   #20
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Re: Club Chalet

Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Coast Laurie
I just came across this topic and thought I'd provide some info regarding Club Chalet. I just bought a 3rd week up there yesterday.

Club Chalet is a little different than the usual condominium type of timeshare. It consists of numerous chalets and townhouses scattered around Mt Harrison (Ski Mountain) in Gatlinburg right on the edge of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. They vary widely in size and how they look. I know that many of you folks prefer the more "slick" resort-type places with lots of amenities, but many of us love the Club Chalet experience. It's more along the lines of "rustic with all the conveniences of home." The units have full kitchens, washer/dryer, phone, cable tv, etc. Some are closer to downtown Gatlinburg, some (like mine) are up winding roads further up the mountain, which I find to be totally cool. One of my 3-bedroom units is at the end of a dead-end street halfway up the mountain, in the woods, with a stream running under the chalet. When I sit out on the big deck, I hear nothing but the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees, twigs cracking as wildlife wander around, and the occasional faint hum of the cable car going up the mountain. My Club Chalet weeks are true getaways... secluded, yet minutes from attractions like "downtown" Gatlinburg, the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Pigeon Forge/Dollywood, etc. This type of timeshare isn't for everyone, but we love it.

The Club Chalet homeowners association recently staged a "coup" and pressured all but one of the Board members to resign, and replaced the property manager because they were dissatisfied with the financial management, customer service, and how the units were being kept up. A ton of renovations, painting, and improvements are now taking place to bring all the units up to a much higher level of asthetics and functionality. The staff that remained have great attitudes (owners report their more recent experiences up there are like day and night from "the old days") , and everyone is working together to greatly improve the units and the visitor experience. The homeowners association-owned units are being sold at a big discount to current owners to improve the maintenance fee cash flow and enable even more renovations. I'm very pleased with what's going on up there and can't wait to head up there in July to my "mountain hideaway in the woods."
Wow, thank you, this is exactly the kind of thing I'd like, too!! Different strokes, eh?

OP - I think you would have much better luck going before or after Mem Day. A holiday week is going to be harder to find TWICE.
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