Luxury Cabins in the Smoky Mountains - Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Areas
Luxury cabins certainly make up a portion of the log home and cabin market in the Smokies. Although, they do not make up a large percentage of the market here in Sevier County, their presence is still felt.
The overnight rental cabin market equates to a large portion of the cabins within our area. Many of these cabins are built with only overnight rentals in mind. This may include features missing you would typically see in a permanent residence or second home including large walk-in closets, adequate kitchen countertop space, full laundry rooms, garage, and a jacuzzi tub not located in the actual master bedroom itself!
Most rental cabins are built with the fact in mind the visitors are only going to stay for a week or less typically, so they do not have the necessity for large closets or custom kitchens with lots of cabinet space or a pantry. Builders of the rental cabins typically utilize the space for other things that will make the property become better rental properties and produce more rental income. This can include things such as large game rooms with pool tables, foosball, air hockey, arcade games, simple floor plans where they can be easily replicated, and the list goes on and on.
Also, you will notice the cabins (particularly the large cabins) will feature all "master bedroom" suites which will usually accomodate a king sized bed and have a very similar bath throughout each bedroom within the cabin. This suits visitors well who have multiple families staying in a cabin, so they are all accomodated with similar size and style bedrooms. While this does tend to work well for cabin guests, it does not lend itself well to owners using a property as a permanent residence, long term vacation property, or second home.
When the term "luxury cabin" is thrown around, it is difficult to define because luxury can mean so many different things. What I perceive as luxury may be distasteful to another person and vice versa. My definition of a true luxury cabin tends to meet a few criteria.
First is the cabin is custom built and not a "cookie cutter" type cabin that has an exterior elevation like every other cabin rental up and down the road.
Second, it must have certain unique features that go above and beyond the norm of the industry. While I do not consider most cabin rentals as luxury cabins, some can be. For instance, those with theater rooms with theater style seating/chairs (not the "after thought" theater rooms with a projection screen randomly placed in a room with a couple chairs thrown here and there) would be considered a luxury in my opinion. Also making the list would be unique features or amenities to a cabin, such as an indoor putt-putt golf course, or to a lesser extent a cabin with a private indoor swimming pool.
The third criteria is it must be built of quality materials. This does not necessarily mean granite or concrete countertops is a must, but it certainly helps. Even little small touches such as cabinet and door hardware can make a huge impression. It may not be strikingly noticeable, but it adds to the overall feel of a cabin.
Finally, the furnishings are what makes up my final criteria of a luxury cabin. They do not have to be expensive in order to be luxury in my opinion, but must "gel" well with the overall theme and feel of the property. In other words, it should not feel as if you went bargain hunting and had a lot of the cabin furnished with rustic log furnishings, but found a good deal on a dining room table that looks like it would fit better in the permanent residence of a contemporary home.
With what I consider a luxury cabin, the fireplace is usually a stacked stone from floor to ceiling variety and either gas or wood burning. Many of the so called luxury cabin rentals have electric fireplaces (just for looks - and hardly good looks in my opinion) and perhaps stone halfway up the wall.
Typically a custom luxury cabin will have some unique architecture within the cabin, whether it be the windows, roof pitch, or whatever the case may be - it is evident when you enter a custom luxury cabin, especially after viewing several "cookie cutter" type cabins. Being a luxury cabin does not necessarily always carry a hefty price tag, although it often does. There are many "cookie cutter" style cabins that sell for well over $500,000 and even over $1 Million usually based upon the large rental income some can generate. I have seen several custom luxury cabins for $400,000 and less. When comparing one of these to a cookie cutter type of the same price the difference is like night and day.
My general feeling of a cabin to be classified as a "luxury cabin" is founded a lot on the cabin having custom touches not found in the majority of other cabins in our area. Many rental management companies will classify their cabins as "luxury" and they very well may be from the perspective of others, but most do not fit the criteria based on my opinions of the features necessary for a luxury cabin. Perhaps, I should make a distinction between properties with primary use as a rental cabin and what justifies the luxury label with those having a predominant use as a permanent log home/vacation home.
When considering a cabin with its primary use as a rental cabin, the luxury label could mean a variety of things. Rental management companies will frequently classify a property as luxury if it contains certain amenities and characteristics such as a view, high end furnishings, flat screen TV's, a theater room, indoor pool, whirlpool tubs, popular features such as log railings, located in a development with amenities such as a clubhouse or community pool, has more costly materials such as granite countertops, and a variety of other features and amenities. While I tend to agree that some of these features are luxuries and many of these features are within a true luxury cabin, it is the entire package that justifies classification as a luxury cabin.
In my mind a true luxury cabin will have unique identifying features the makes it distinct among the many log cabins in our area. This automatically in my mind disqualifies most cabins in PUD's (Planned Unit Developments) where there are perhaps four different models/floor plans and there is a good chance your cabin is just like the neighbor's cabin. These properties lack the unique identifying features and privacy that in my mind a true luxury cabin contains.
Then again, I could be completely wrong and most people feel a "luxury cabin" has the luxuries they do not have in their personal home. So a cabin with a pool table and air hockey to go along with a hot tub may feel like luxury even though these features are the norm for the overnight cabin rental industry. It really comes down to a personal opinion of luxury, but I think of it more as custom touches not seen typically in the cabins located in our area.
Some of the larger developments where I feel some true luxury cabins are located are listed below:
- Cedar Falls (Waldens Creek)
- The Summit On Bluff Mountain (Waldens Creek)
- Riversong Estates (Pittman Center)
- Laughing Pines (Waldens Creek)
- Greystone Heights (Gatlinburg)
- Miller's Creek (Wears Valley)
- Teaberry Mountain (Wears Valley)
- Laurel Branch (Waldens Creek)
- Pinnacle View (Pittman Center/Cobbly Nob)
- Bird's Eye View (Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community)
- Cove Meadows (Wears Valley)
- The Homestead in Wears Valley
- Hideaway Mountain (Wears Valley)
- Cedar Creek Crossing (Bluff Mountain area)
- Gold Leaf Mountain Estates (Wears Valley)
- Thunder Mountain (Wears Valley)
- Enclave at Cove Mountain (Gatlinburg)
- Estates at Norton Creek (Gatlinburg)
- Cobbly Nob (Cobbly Nob)
Please note this list is not exhaustive and while many of the cabins within the developments above would meet my classification as "luxury" not all of the cabins in the development will necessarily meet my idea of a luxury cabin. It is interesting that most of the areas where the developments are located are in the Wears Valley, Walden's Creek, and Pittman Center areas of Sevier County where there are less PUD's. These locations do happen to have the highest average sale prices of cabins in our area and are typically locations where and individual can buy a lot and have a builder/contractor build a cabin on that land to their specifications - a custom built cabin.