By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photography by Todd Bush
Trip Advisor recently named a list of its best winter vacation values in the country, and the town of Banner Elk made the top 10 with an impressive rental review score.
The site, one of the world’s largest and most respected online travel resources, published an article back in late December highlighting some of the nation’s most “affordable winter hidden gems.”
To determine which communities should top the list, Trip Advisor analyze the average cost of a weeklong stay in a two-bedroom vacation rental for all U.S. towns with properties available on the site.
“These 10 places were amongst those with the lowest weekly rates, likely cause they aren’t as well-known as some of their big-named neighbors,” said Ashlee Centrella, who works in business development and vacation rentals for the site. “But they’re great alternatives to the more widely known getaways in their respective states.”
So, what do the top 10 low-key winter spots have in common?
“The commonality these places share is simply their relative anonymity,” Centrella said. “But travelers can enjoy the same great experience, while saving money, by staying in one of these gems instead of the more touristy locations.”
Banner Elk: A Hidden Gem
Among more than 500 online reviews from visitors to the area, Banner Elk earned a score of 4.8 out of an available 5, proving that travelers agree it’s an ideal, affordable location for a winter getaway or a winter sports adventure.
Centrella noted that the beauty of Banner Elk, aside from its actual beauty, is that winter brings the best of both worlds.
“There’s nothing cozier than a family cabin rental in the woods, where nights are spent around the fireplace drinking hot cocoa and enjoying each other’s company. Banner Elk offers this in spades, with rentals going for just $765 per week on average for a two-bedroom property,” the TA article reports. “Depending on which winter month you visit, you may catch temperatures warm enough for hiking and outdoor recreation, or it could dip low enough for fresh powder on the slopes. A Banner Elk home offers an ideal home base for hitting the two local ski areas — Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain.”
Town Employee Nancy Owen, also a liaison to the town’s active Tourism Development Authority, said making the list is a great opportunity for the community.
“Trip Advisor is probably the top website in the U.S. for consumer-rated travel. It’s a big deal when a site of that magnitude recognizes Banner Elk,” said Owen. “This means a lot for our town, because it exposes Banner Elk to millions of people throughout North America. It paints us in a very positive light and lets people know that, even though we have very nice accommodations, we are also reasonably priced.”
Although a recent branding overhaul by the TDA has included a new online ad campaign, Owen said she’s happy to report that this recognition happened organically as a result of excellent ratings and rave reviews from folks who have already fallen in love with the town.
“We do some Internet marketing, but the Banner Elk TDA does not work directly with Trip Advisor. This honor came about solely because of the great lodging we have available at very affordable prices,” said Owen. “Banner Elk is a great winter getaway because it is nestled between two fo the largest ski resorts in the southeast — we are a less than 15-minute drive to either resort. We also have great culinary options and a nice variety of lodging. We have good amenities with easy access, such as grocery stores, walking trails and shopping.”
The “Affordable Winter Hidden Gems” list also included Garden City Beach, South Carolina; Carolina Beach, North Carolina; Fort Pierce, Florida; Sandwich, Massachusetts; Redmond, Oregon; Navarre, Florida; Cody, Wyoming; Depoe Bay, Oregon; and Chelan, Washington, the only town on the list to top Banner Elk’s 4.8/5 score with a 5/5.
Planning a stay in Banner Elk? Check out the TDA’s brand new comprehensive website, which features a complete list of lodging options.