We are Steve and Jody Belkowski. You may be wondering why there are only six cabins available on our website. The reason is because each of the cabins you see here are either owned by us personally or by our family and friends. That means, unlike the large rental companies, if you have a question you will never be speaking to a person who never stepped one foot in the property. You’ll be talking directly to the people who have poured their hearts and souls into making our properties a special place. Our goal, above all else, is that you have a wonderful experience and make incredible memories to last a lifetime.
We had our first trip to the area in 2010 and fell in love with it. Two years later, we returned with a big group of our family and friends to be married in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to our marriage, we had recently went from two households down to one. During our wedding trip, we had the idea to reinvest the equity from the home sale into a vacation rental. Two weeks later, we were back to search for a cabin.
We instantly fell in love with the first cabin we went to see. Every other cabin we looked at on that trip was compared to the first but none of them were nearly as nice. The issue was, while most cabins came furnished with the sale, the first one had been a foreclosure and it had no furniture included. We were scared. How could we furnish a five bedroom cabin when we didn’t live nearby? We both worked full time and had limited vacation time. Eventually, we convinced ourselves that we could make it work with extensive pre-planning. In September of 2012, we closed on The Bigfoot Lodge and got busy furnishing it, making small repairs and getting it into ideal rental condition.
Honestly, we underestimated how much there was to do. If not for the help of Steve’s parents and his aunt and uncle, I don’t know how we could have completed everything. We had to go back home, back to the kids and to our jobs while Steve’s family stayed for the finishing touches.
In addition to the help from family, we were able to find wonderful cleaners and maintenance people to cover all the needs of our guests. We still have the same cleaners, now cleaning all of our cabins, all these years later!
Growing our Business
Our first year as vacation rental owners was a whopping success! We had a great response to The Bigfoot Lodge from our guests. Real estate prices were still very favorable in 2013, so we decided to invest in another cabin. We found a beautiful 6 bedroom cabin in Pigeon Forge. We knew we wanted to improve it by incorporating some of our favorite features from The Bigfoot Lodge – converting a bedroom to a theater room, weather proofing the decks with metal roofing and making the deck areas more private. We also replaced most of the furniture. After quite a bit of work, we were able to introduce Bigfoot Crossing to our offerings.
Taking on a Major Transformation
We thought we were done, we really did. Two cabins, two full time jobs and four kids seemed like about all we could handle. However, in 2014 the cabin across the street from Bigfoot Crossing went for sale. It was outdated and on the market for quite a while. The price kept dropping until it got a point where the extensive work necessary to bring it up to the standard of the other Bigfoot Cabins seemed to be worth it. So, a year after we bought Bigfoot Crossing, we entered into our biggest challenge yet – what would become Sasquatch Ridge.
Family and Friends Fell in Love, Too!
Steve and I decided that we were maxed out. We couldn’t possibly take on any more in our lives. That’s when Steve’s parents decided they’d like a Pigeon Forge cabin of their own, and they’d like us to rent it for them when they weren’t using it. They were retired and in a stage of life where they traveled quite a bit. They found a gorgeous cabin down the street from The Bigfoot Lodge. They took what was already a very nice cabin and replaced the majority of the furniture and added upscale décor – giving it the “Wow Factor” we go for in our own cabins. We figured out ways to automate more tasks and then welcomed Yeti’s Retreat to our offerings in 2015.
Next, while we were vacationing with our best friends at Bigfoot Crossing, a cabin in our resort went up for sale. Our friends fell in love with it and put in an offer. They also asked for our help, as they would be unable to quickly answer inquiries or respond to the needs of guests due to their hands-on jobs as a Chiropractor and Police Sargent. They also took an already great cabin and refurnished and redecorated it with luxury touches. They named it Hoedown Hideaway, because the two of them met at a country music festival called The Downtown Hoedown.
The last cabin that we added to The Bigfoot Cabins family is Southern Comfort. Southern Comfort is in Brookstone Village resort, along with Bigfoot Crossing, Sasquatch Ridge and Hoedown Hideaway. Betty is our neighbor who owns the cabin. Betty had a beautiful cabin that wasn’t renting quite as well as it could have been – mostly due to some outdated photos that didn’t show all the improvements Betty had made to the cabin, along with some missing information on the listings that’s important to guests who are choosing where to stay. We offered to help get the word out about Betty’s awesome cabin. Southern Comfort is the only cabin that we only help with the marketing on. Betty handles her cleaners and maintenance directly. If you rent Southern Comfort, you’ll have the ease of booking through Bigfoot Cabins and the advantage of direct communication with the owner, Betty, if you need assistance with the cabin itself.
More to Come!
We have finally come to realize that we aren’t ready to stop adding to Bigfoot Cabins! The truth is, we love being a part of providing amazing places for you to make lifelong memories. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of our cabins being a part of many weddings, engagements, birthdays, anniversary celebrations, family reunions and countless family vacations. We work hard to keep the cabins in great shape and make the process of renting through us easy and enjoyable. We love what we do and we’ve decided to continue the growth in the near future. We have some exciting additions expected in Summer / Fall of 2021, if all goes as planned!
We hope to be a part of making many more memories for you in the years to come.