More than 50 years ago – in 1961 – my brand new wife, Phyllis, and I spent several days in the Smokies as part of our honeymoon trip from Illinois to Georgia (where I was entering the Army). We had a wonderful time strolling the streets of Gatlinburg and visiting the Smoky Mountains National Park.
We stayed at the Laurelwood Motel for only $5.00 a night. (The Laurelwood was vacant for many years and was finally torn down last year.)
After that trip, and 2 years in the Army, we ended up living in the north – Michigan and Illinois. And we never got back to
the Smokies … that is, until 1990 when we were transferred to Memphis, TN. There, I met Bob. He was running an AV company in Memphis while
his wife was in Gatlinburg, learning how to run a lodging rental agency. Bob made us a “deal” to stay in their
Gatlinburg cabin. That was all it took –
we were hooked! We started making
regular trips to Gatlinburg, staying in Bob and Carol’s cabins – usually a
different one each time.
December 1995, we brought our whole family to Gatlinburg and spent Christmas in
a very unique cabin – Mountain Tower.
Phyllis said one evening, “If this house ever comes on the market, we
should think about buying it.” That got
us both thinking. The money was going
the wrong way! Why should we keep
renting cabins when we could buy one and have people pay us to
stay in it? So, with the able help of
Bob and Carol (who were also realtors), we started looking. Mountain Tower wasn’t for sale, but there
were others. By July, 1996, we had found
the place. It had a main floor deck and
a lower deck. We decided to add a front
porch deck and named it “All Decked Out.”
Bob and Carol started renting it out for us, and we were in business.
years later, Bob called and said, “Guess what!
Mountain Tower is for sale!” It
was a stretch, but we were able to fulfill Phyllis’ dream. Now we had two rental cabins.
long after that, Bob and Carol retired from the rental agency business. And shortly after that, we decided to start
managing our two cabins ourselves, rather than continue with the agency. Our daughter helped us set up a Web site and
get everything organized. We found a
great cleaner/property manager and a couple of fantastic maintenance guys to
help us. We advertised on a dozen or so
Web sites and, within a couple of weeks, we welcomed our first guest.
here we are – almost 51 years since our first trip to the Smokies. We have two great rental cabins, both over
2,500 square feet, with all the amenities our guests want – like hot tubs, pool
tables, foosball and other games, and more.
We renamed “Mountain Tower” to “Smoky Mountain Tower” and it was
recently named by TripAdvisor to have one of the 10 best vacation rental home views
in the whole United States – the only place in the southeast to receive that
honor. We redecorated “All Decked Out”
into an Americana theme that has been very popular. Our occupancy rates have been over 60% for
the past two years. Our whole family has
been back to Gatlinburg many times – either all together, or separately with
We never thought that a
few days’ honeymoon would lead to a lifelong attachment to the Smokies. But we are very thankful for the friends we
have made along the way and the fun and relaxation we have enjoyed. We’re also thankful for the work done by all
the folks at VisitMySmokies.com to encourage others like us to enjoy this
beautiful area. Who knows? There maybe somebody honeymooning in
Gatlinburg right now who will someday have a similar story!
You can find out more about our cabins by visiting our Web site at www.SmokiesRentDirect.com,
or following us on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/SmokiesRentDirect). We hope you will use the opportunity to tell us your story about the Smokies!