Global Discovery Vacations member John G. seems to be enjoying his retirement to the fullest. Taking up to 15 trips a year, he’s seen a thing or two in his travels. And one of his favorite spots happens to be the White Oak Lodge and Resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. If you are wondering how the town has been holding up after the fires, John’s Member Monday should put to rest any doubts.
Where would you recommend a fellow member to go to…
Alamo Steakhouse is delicious (the one in Gatlinburg is being rebuilt – we had to drive to Pigeon Forge this time). They usually have a weeknight BOGO special. Very good service and excellent food! Zaxby’s Chicken on the strip has very good food, too.
Love the Belk and Kohls in Sevierville. They have wonderful sales (there is something for everyone). And there is a Lodge Iron Skillet Store next to a Knifeworks, a Coleman Camping Store and a gun shop. The guys loved these. We like to do that kind of stuff on a rainy day.
Bush’s Beans Factory Visitor’s Center near Dandridge, Tennessee, is a must! They have a movie about their history and how they process their products. Plus they have a wonderful museum and gift shop. Our favorite there is the little diner. They serve you the bean of the day and you can try their pecan/navy bean pie. Yum.
We also love hiking the area. You can’t beat the beauty of the mountain streams.
What was your favorite…
Master suite Jacuzzi tub.
Place to go in the destination:
Kilwins Chocolates in downtown Gatlinburg has huge caramel apples and hand-dipped ice cream. We went to the Christian bookstore at the Village shopping area and visited the Gatlinburg Church of Christ (which is in a little office building while they rebuild).
You must do the Dixie Stampede if you’ve never been. It’s a riot.
Why did you choose this destination?
We have been there before and love the friendly people, and the Christmas lights that are still up in February. The resort is very relaxing.
What was your favorite memory of your vacation?
Inviting my family down for a few days and showing them all the fun. We love the drive through Cade’s Cove, too!
We drove up to Asheville, North Carolina, for a day trip to tour the amazing Biltmore Estate and winery. Met other friends up there.
Any tips for a traveler going to this resort or destination?
They now have an exercise facility open at the resort. It only has two machines, but that worked for us. And the property manager is a super nice guy!
The kitchen is pretty well stocked: Crockpot, blender, as well as all the usual stuff. I especially loved sitting by the gas, push-button fireplace in the evenings. They have a hot tub outside the condos, which we liked, so take a swimsuit even in the winter. The resort has an outdoor pool, but it’s not open in cold weather.
If you like artwork, go to the Arrowmont Art School in downtown Gatlinburg and tour their gallery. The students have many of their latest works on display and for sale. We love that; and it’s free.
How is the town after the Gatlinburg fires?
The tourist area downtown Gatlinburg was not effected much by the fires (and Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are fine). The main strip of Gatlinburg is kind of in a valley.
However, we drove up the mountains on both sides (just a street behind the strip) and were heartsick to see such damage. Many homes, resorts and structures were burned to the ground. It was almost like seeing remnants of our Ohio tornadoes. The fire caught one home, but the one next door was fine. They had 87-mile-per-hour winds that carried embers up onto the mountain tops. Fourteen people died; but it could have been so many more.
I must say that the locals are so thankful to have Dolly Parton in their neighborhood. She is still funding them $1,000 a month to recover. And you see signs everywhere saying, “Mountain Strong,” and, “Gatlinburg Strong.”
We love our Global membership. We have upgraded it twice now and have been traveling with them for 14 years and over 120 weeks. All amazing – it’s a great value!
How long have you been a Global Discovery Vacations member?
Fourteen years (starting our 15th).
Why did you join the club?
We wanted a reasonable way to travel and didn’t want to have to buy an RV and pay that cost, plus high gas prices and then have to drive it. This works so much better for us.
How many trips have you taken using your membership?
We now travel about 12 to 15 weeks a year. We are retired, so we have even more flexibility. So, we started out by taking four weeks a year: two-week trips twice a year.
Now, we do:
- Six to eight weeks south for the winter.
- A summer week or two with grandsons.
- A fall trip with siblings.
It’s a blessing to see these places. Some of them we have never even heard of. We go to the Visitor’s or Convention Center and find out fun things from the locals, too.
Why do you think traveling is important?
It is like a prescription from God for us. We detox and get out of the rat race at home when we travel.
And we find some of the coolest stuff to see. Example: A cranberry bog in Pennsylvania that actually had blueberries in season on our floating walk tour with the local naturalist. We stuffed our faces – we love blueberries.
Photos courtesy of resort.