Best Questions to Ask Customer Service About a Cabin Rental

It’s so much more than a hotel room. Vacation cabin living has so many advantages. Cabins are managed by rental agencies, and are usually individually owned. Owners of a family retreat are often just as concerned about guests’ treatment of their getaway, as you are concerned about renting the best choice for your family’s unique vacation requirements.

Matching your desires with the right property begins with perusing a website’s availability calendar, images and videos, along with the detailed information regarding a home’s interior and view. The easiest way to assure that you match a specific cabin’s experience to your vacation expectations is to make a great list of questions and talk to our customer service at Volunteer Cabin Rentals. It is in no one’s best interest for you to be surprised or disappointed. We truly want your stay with us to be a lovely getaway you’ll want to repeat!

If you are new to Wears Valley, Tennessee cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains, here are several questions to consider for your discussion with our friendly agents.

1. Location
Though most companies don’t supply exact addresses prior to stay for security purposes, general area information is always available.
Privacy: Is the location in a rental resort neighborhood, or is it secluded? Is it quiet or noisy; is there any construction occurring in the general vicinity?
View: With that great view, are the roads and driveway paved or gravel, steep inclined, or curvy mountain roads? How many vehicles can the parking area at the cabin accommodate?

Necessities: Where is the nearest grocery or discount store for purchasing staples?
Directions: These are typically provided at check-in. My best advice is to make sure that you understand them clearly before attempting to follow them. If at all possible, try not to make your first attempt at finding your secluded mountain cabin after dark. Unfamiliar rural roads can be both confusing and intimidating.

2. Amenities
Each cabin has an amenities listing provided, which we work hard to provide as accurate and complete as possible. Sometimes changes may be made by an owner and not communicated to our office. Sometimes a previous guest may damage or remove an item without notification (could we tell you some stories!).  Both cleaning and maintenance staffs perform routine circuit inspections of each location as part of their many responsibilities, but small items not readily obvious (like a burned-out bulb or broken kitchen tool) can be overlooked periodically. If any issues arise that need correction, we do our best to address them in a most timely manner.
Special event? Mobility issues? Pet-friendly locations desired?  Ask questions about units that can accommodate your specific needs.
What are the detailed instructions for use of the WIFI system? Instructions for using satellite television?
Who do you call if something breaks?

My thoughts are that if the small details matter to you, make sure you have answers (before arriving) regarding those small details to avoid frustration. Volunteer Cabin Rentals has professionally managed cabins for many years, and our people and standards have built a loyal family of repeat guests. We want you to join us for a wonderful stay in a mountain home away from home.

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask. We are happy to answer, and hope that you will join us here soon!

Saddle Up! for Country Western Style in the Smokies

 Big hat, no cattle? Ever wonder whether you could cut it on a dude ranch? If you plan to investigate cabin rentals in Wears Valley for the weekend following Valentine’s Day next month, consider also rounding up a good time by visiting the Saddle Up! event at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge during your stay.

This is the 14th year that folks from all walks of life have the opportunity to sample all things Western. Learn more about cowboy life beginning Wednesday, February 19th and ending Sunday, February 23rd. There are multiple free events and also some fee-paid concerts and activities.

First, put your heels up for the music. If you are curious about how lyrics and melodies are put together, attend the songwriters’ symposium. Come absorb fiddle and guitar styles, or some western swing demonstrated by national artists. The entertainment list includes Belinda Gail, Hot Club of Cowtown, Ray Doyle and other multi-talented performer/songwriters.

Sop up some history with cowboy stories and Western images. There is plenty to experience throughout the four-day event.

Then chow down on the hearty food: try sampling cornbread,  or indulge in a satisfying meal straight from the chuckwagon. You’ll be darn pleased you did.  The event ends with a special cowboy church service on Sunday.

So if you’ve never gotten closer to cowboy life than a guided horseback ride, give it a try. If you already enjoy the Western lifestyle, I am certain you are already planning to attend. For a more detailed list of schedule events for Saddle Up!, check this link:

There’s always something unique to do in our area, and never any reason to be bored. Pack your boots, and come join in!

Something for Everyone at Wilderness Wildlife Week, Pigeon Forge

You come to a Pigeon Forge cabin to relax, enjoy the view, and forget everyday life for a few days. Why not take a few moments of your vacation to learn more about the beautiful wilderness surrounding you here? If your family likes a little mental stimulation while relaxing, have we got a deal for you! Choose from over 300 programs with more than 200 experts covering so many topics, there is absolutely something that would interest you. There is plenty to see and do for all ages, children through seniors. Oh, and it is all FREE.

Please investigate attending the events of Wilderness Wildlife Week, for one or several programs. An annual festival since 1991, this week of interesting presentations, seminars, free hikes, field trips and other activities is a “do not miss” if you are in the area.
Wilderness Wildlife Week occurs Saturday, January 25 to Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sit in warm comfort at the new LeConte Center listening to an expert teach you far more than you thought, or put one foot in front of the other on a guided winter hike tour.

Want to try something new?
-Begin to play a dulcimer, banjo, guitar, ukelele, or spoons.
-Learn photography techniques, how to use a map and compass, how to raise butterflies.
-Make a quill pen, basket, jewelry, carving, or painting.
-Try dowsing, clogging, old Harp singing, or weather signs.

Want to increase your knowledge?
History-heritage classes of local sites, event, and people; Civil War, Appalachian music, Native American stories
Outdoor activities-Appalachian Trail, hiking, fly fishing, wildflowers, trees.
Animals-bears, wolves, bugs, possums, woodpeckers, birds, and more.

Have kids in the family?
Kid’s Track-try cartooning, old time toys, several bears activities, blindfold surprise, garbage pizza, hiking, and more.

These are just a few of the classes at LeConte Center. There is so much more available. Come join the over 20,000 people from several countries who enjoy this festival.

Me? Think I might take on the strenuous old time dessert tasting class, for starters.

For complete information on classes and seminars, the experts and exhibitors attending, and a complete booklet with listings information, check out

Avoid These 4 Things in the Smokies

There are so many voices spouting lists of things to do here in the Smokies, perhaps it’s also beneficial to know about a few things that you should consider avoiding while vacationing in your Smoky Mountain cabin and enjoying the surrounding area.

1. Chain restaurants and stores: Yes, it is predictable and comforting to know it will be the same. But do you really want to do on vacation exactly what you can do at home? Maybe you need to pick up just a few items, or maybe your child will eat chicken nuggets from only that restaurant. That’s a given. But please, take advantage of all the locally-owned eateries and merchants that offer great versions of whatever you may crave: like authentic Thai, Southern family-style food, or handcrafted artisan gifts. You won’t be disappointed, and might even make a memory in the process: that place you “found” and the fun of the discovery. National chains-if you need them, we certainly do have them, in abundance.

2. Visitor center masquerade: This may be a no-brainer for most, but just in case: those places labeled “tourist information, visitor center, or free tickets” are far more interested in pitching timeshare vacations to you than providing helpful information. Nothing against timeshares and condo clubs, but I find the false facade to be annoying and deceptive, and so should you. So unless you can withstand a hard-sell presentation, make sure your visitor center stops are the official city-sponsored locations.
Here are the local links to help you find them:

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Pigeon Forge

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Gatlinburg Information

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Information:
Smoky Mountains Visitor Center, located at Smokies Baseball Stadium at exit 407
Sugarlands Visitor Center, just inside the National Park

3. Crowds (thinking like a typical tourist): Of course there are times when you want to be in the throng celebrating (Dollywood opening parade, anyone?). But if you choose a more unpredictable schedule, you will have some amazing experiences without too much company. For example, Cades Cove loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is often very congested at noon on a weekend day, with too many trying to “enjoy nature” at the same time. Why not try being there at daybreak? Catch the serenity, the morning mist, the early rising animals and deer? All with an almost private viewing, even in high season. Think off hours (and even off season) whenever possible in your planning, and you’ll have more freedom to enjoy special spots as they were intended.

4. Bottleneck still under construction: Even we locals will be glad when construction traffic snarls here are relieved, hopefully substantially complete by the end of 2014. Already much improved, Highway 66/Winfield Dunn Parkway from exit 407 at I-40 to Sevierville was never originally designed to carry the volume of traffic that it handles today. Most of this major artery has been widened to six lanes (three each way), but the final center phase of widening near and over the French Broad River bridge is still in progress. This creates a bottleneck during high volume traffic times, which causes backups in either direction based on volume.
Of course, there will always be delays in our area on major holidays, but to zoom through with the least amount of logjam, don’t arrive on Friday afternoon (about 12-4pm) or leave on Sunday afternoon (about 11 am-2pm). My suggestion for a smoother weekend is to arrive early if possible, and leave late. Have a Sunday lunch before you leave town. It’s much better to enjoy a meal with family than to spend that same amount of time idling in traffic, wouldn’t you agree?

Perhaps these are simplistic, but I believe that avoiding a few key irritants can make for a substantially better vacation. If you want the experienced opinions of locals regarding specific spots to try, don’t hesitate to ask us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals. We are glad to help you enjoy our hometown as much as we do. Come stay with us! We hope to see you soon.

Think About Snow Before You Go

Thanksgiving week snow, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee November 2013


Recently I read about some young hikers that were rescued by helicopter from the Appalachian Trail nearby here. They were unprepared for snow, ice, and freezing temperatures and became stranded.

Don’t let this happen to you in your cabin rental in Pigeon Forge. Most rentals are independently owned, and are located in resort rental communities with homeowners’ associations. Some are located hillside in rural areas. Our local roads are regularly maintained, and pose no unusual issues under regular conditions.

Yet weather changes quickly in our hill and valley topography, and roads in higher elevations can have radically different conditions from those on the main artery Parkway. Some people from elsewhere laugh at the bread and milk runs to the store that occur here in Tennessee with predicted winter precipitation. Most local municipalities have adequate, but not substantial, equipment for road treatment. It does not make good fiscal policy to overspend for such, when inclement conditions are so infrequent, and ongoing continual snowfall does not exist.

Our bigger foe here is ice. Snow typically lasts from 2 to 4 days, if that. But wet weather and snow melt from mild daytime temperatures freezes overnight into black ice, a thin glossy layer that just appears wet, but is only suitable for skating. Often tree-lined, shady lanes, and areas where hillside runoff occurs can remain dangerously slick for days, when all else is completely dry. Add the factor of an incline, and it doesn’t take a physics major to see that your vehicle can easily become a very expensive Red Flyer sled. Trust us, an icy mountain road has zero in common with a flat, snowplowed road elsewhere.

Most rental communities have association-paid road clearing equipment for our infrequent snow conditions. But not all locations have it, and some rural roads have gravel drives, sharp turns and narrow widths. Roads are often steep and curvy to get to that home with the outstanding mountain views that everyone covets.

A rental company cannot guarantee your arrival or safety if you choose to traverse tough roads without proper equipment. Typically 4-wheel drive and chains are necessary, and even these may not be sufficient in icy conditions.

So, know before you go. If winter weather is a possibility, bring a proper vehicle for mountain climbing, with extras like chains, sand and other appropriate emergency items. If you have questions regarding your specific reservation and the road policies of its location, please call our guest services before you arrive with any issues you would like to discuss. We are glad to help you plan all the details. Neither of us wants your next trip to be delayed, derailed, or inadvertently extended by a beautiful mountain snowfall.

Don’t be caught mountainside in the proverbial tee shirt and sneakers, call us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals today.