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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My review of Mountain Springs Cabins - Ponca Arkansas

I wanted to post my own personal review of Mountain Springs Cabins near Ponca, Arkansas for a few weeks now, so here it goes... I hope that my summary will provide some much needed insight and experience for those considering staying in this area of the country.

Here is the link to the cabin Mountain Springs Cabins

Date of Stay: June 13-19th, 2009

I. Reservation Policy (A) --- The reservation policy was really simple. Just emailed the address on the website and checked the dates for availability. I received a friendly & informative response within a couple days, then called back with my CC, solidified the deal and paid 1/2 now, the rest due at the time of the stay. Fair enough, simple and easy process.

II. Arrival/Directions (B+) --- Easy to find. Very good directions, even easier than what you think by reading the arrival notes sent after reservations are made. The owners live at the entrance to the "cabin road" at the top of the hill and were friendly and informative. I paid the remaining balance and drove onward to the cabin.

III. Cabin - First Impressions (B) --- The cabin was a nice basic A-frame log-cabin structure facing east-to-west with a large porch on 2-sides offering great hill-top Ozark views and wonderful breezes in the evening. The interior was quaint and overly "countrified" for my taste, but still adequate. Only one bedroom with a door and one bathroom --- the loft had space for open sleeping with 2 beds and a futon.

IV. Cabin - Usage/Comfort --- (D)

We visited during mid June and by this time it was already pretty hot and the single central AC in the living area on the first floor simply was not adequate for proper cooling. Adding insult to injury is that you could not leave it on HIGH-COOL, since it would freeze-up and stop working completely. We slept a few nights wondering why we were paying to have sheets stick to our body, but we got over it. The loft area is worse off as cold air does not rise and all of the thermal heat built up during the day, just stays in the loft and it is quite warm most of the time. Great for winter, bad for summer. The TV is extremely small and only located in the living room but it did have a DVD player and actually had several family movies for all to share.

The kitchen in the cabin is poorly designed as there is almost no counter or pantry storage space. The tiny electric hotplate "stove" is not exactly what is required to feed a family over an entire week of meals. Basic pots and pans are included, but no garbage disposal for some reason. In addition, the single bathroom is not a plus, but it was again adequate for the job.

Another mishap is that the loft area staircase is extremely steep and the fan at the top of the stairs almost nearly chopped my head off --- I am 6'3" --- but wow, not the safest design that I have ever seen. Might be worth checking this out if I was the owner. :)

Saving grace...
The one truly amazing part of the cabin was the green binder. It held a tremendous collection of personal stories, journeys to nearby towns, restaurant menus and lots of very interesting information. Really nice and helpful.

V - Cabin - Outside (C)

The view from the porch on the cabin is really nice, but the advertised property "trails" are just areas of high grass that are just slightly cut lower than the rest of the area. Uncut might be 12-18" high and the trails were about 4-6" high! The area needs to be cut completely and kept short. I just pictured more of the land would have be cleared to offer up a better view of the sunsets.

We backpacked & rockclimbed extensively during our trip to the Ozarks in a multitude of areas and not once did we gather as many ticks as we did in each 10-20 minute walk around the "trails" --- It was ridiculous. Each trek out around this property, we each got about 10 ticks each in less than 10 minutes!

Just cut it low and keep it cut low, this isn't a rain forest, this is a cabin. Keep the property clean cut and lose the "trails" --- not only less snakes and ticks, but maybe people will actually enjoy the walks across the land and have more room for a proper view.

To reach the property, you had to enter/exit through a shared driveway that went right through the owners backyard. The owners were nice and friendly, but you never quite shook the impression that they were close-by and perhaps that made it feel more like you were staying at someone's home and less that you were on your vacation. Some people might like that, but I like to come and go on my own without having to stop and discuss my agenda for the day.

VI - Cabin - Overall Summary (C-)

The cabin is nice & clean, but really needs some updating and better use of space for the kitchen and bedrooms. Central AC is needed with large open duct in the loft area. The kitchen needs better appliances and more counter space and a pantry cabinet. Get rid of the excess standing, sitting and growling bears & the multitude of "You are in the country" --- "Welcome to the Woods" decor and other accessories that rob the cabin of most usable space for actually storing essentially and food needed for the stay.

The owners clearly need to do one thing...at least a couple times a year.
LIVE IN THE CABIN FOR A WEEK. Not just during the fall or winter, but stay during June or heaven-forbid, July or August & STAY THERE --- try to sleep while enjoying the paltry AC, sleep in the actual beds and try to prepare and cook actual meals in that kitchen.

Overall, a nice place with really kind owners, but just not my cup of tea. This cabin is central to really nice towns such as Harrison, Boxley, Ponca and Osage ---- but not the best stay for my hard-earned dollar. If I am paying for basic occupancy with little or no air-conditioning, we will just camp out next time and avoid the issues & expectations completely.

I must say that I completely enjoyed this area and we will return to soak up more of the wonderful Ozarks. However, we will certainly stay somewhere else next time, if nothing else than to see something new and explore another part of this wonderful world. It just didn't "match" our picture of what it would be like when we made our reservations, and while it may have been better in the winter, it really didn't matter.... OH, YEAH.... Forget cell coverage. I had phones from 3 networks and none of them worked reliably at all. Not a big thing since we wanted to escape it all, but just wanted to share for full disclosure.

The Ozarks were truly spectacular and we loved our trip, but the cabin was simply not the STAR that we thought it might be.

All the best,
Andy

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