After 20 years of marriage, My husband and I felt we really had something to celebrate. I had begun to plan a trip to Asheville, NC. However, family circumstances meant putting our anniversary on the back burner. So imagine my surprise when my husband came home and told me to pack a bag; we were leaving and the kids were going to the grandparents! While the dream trip was an expensive suite at the Biltmore, the reality was simply wonderful: A king suite at Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg!
I’m no huge Jimmy Buffet fan, but this resort has a prime location, fun tropical decor, and fantastic pools. We were greeted by friendly staff who got us into our pool view suite quickly. The decor is reminiscent of Key West with cream plantation columns, oversized porch swing seating, and colorful mosaics.
The resort has a large outdoor pool with a slide, a kiddie splash pool, a sun deck with a cooling bath, and a large outdoor spa. It also has a spacious indoor pool. There is a full-service spa on-premises as well as a restaurant and full-service bar, and a 24-hour fitness center.
The rooms were nicely appointed with the colors running through from the lobby area, but more toned down and romantic feeling inside the room. Our suite had an electric fireplace, a huge shower with a regular head and a rain shower head, our own personal Keurig, and of course a king bed. The balcony had chairs overlooking the pool with the mountains in the background.
The best part of this resort hotel is the location. It is right on the strip in Gatlinburg. The aquarium and Annakeesta are directly adjacent and across the street. There are attractions, restaurants, and shopping all well within walking distance.
On our first night in Gatlinburg, we dined at Red Oak Bistro (the only restaurant we drove to). This gem is tucked away in the Glade as part of the artisan’s village. It was such a treat to sit on the patio deck overlooking the sun setting over the mountain away from the hustle and bustle of the strip. It is a tapas-style restaurant run by two Bulgarians. The food was fantastic and the staff was so friendly and knowledgeable. The Beets Napoleon and Smoked Salmon Bruschetta are not to be missed. We also loved the sampler of dips, handmade dolmas, and fresh-baked pita strips. The owners keep beehives and use the honey in several of the dishes, including the homemade baklava. We may have ordered a second order of the baklava. This was bar none one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at!
The next day we visited the arts and crafts village shops where we found handmade stuffed animals for our children. The products in the village are all made by local artisans that create unique and exquisite works of all kinds. There are even some shops that allow you to make your own creation. The stuffed animals we purchased are certified safe for children and use specialty materials to make sure no harm is done. The artist also makes her own patterns!! There are shops featuring blacksmithing, weaving, candle and soap making, glass blowing, and even books written by locals about the area. Of course, there are paintings, silk screeners, and sculptors as well, but don’t miss the gourmet foods shop with ingredients grown and processed by local artisans.
Because it was Sunday, we tried brunch at Chesapeake’s. This was a wonderful meal as well and not overly expensive for a seafood brunch. We split chicken and waffles and eggs Chesapeake. The chicken tenders were hand-breaded and the Belgian waffle was crisp and as light as air. The pecan upgrade added chopped candied pecans. The eggs Chesapeake featured beef tenderloin slices, fresh-made English muffins, bearnaise sauce, and lump blue crab meat. Everything was excellent, but the very best thing we had were the house-made croissants! These are strictly served at Sunday brunch.
After brunch, I decided to get a pedicure at the spa at the resort, St. Somewhere Spa. It was a relaxing and wonderful treat. There was a huge bridal party there, but the staff made my little pedicure feel just as important. My technician took her time and was so kind. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I found out that they specialize in bridal parties where they do hair, nails, makeup, and luncheon for the bride and her party.
The rest of the day was spent perusing the strip and relaxing by the pool.
On our last day of the trip, we decided to just relax and enjoy things that are not nearly as fun with children. So, we slept in, went to the hot tub one more time, and ate pancake breakfast at the Gatlinburg institution, “The Little House of Pancakes”. Then we headed into pigeon forge for some shopping and ice cream. We found an ornament at the Christmas place to commemorate our 20th anniversary and our little getaway.
There are so many things to see and do in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area. This trip was about us relaxing together. We were able to relax and unwind despite all the activities around us. That is the beauty of the romantic Smoky Mountains.
~ Dixie Sandlin
Dixie is a wife, mom, and avid traveler. She loves trying new foods and is always up for a new adventure.
Picture credit from Margaritaville Gatlinburg Resort and Red Oak Bistro
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