By David Rogers. March 23, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — There is crowdfunding — and then there is the wisdom of the crowd.
Blowing Rock’s Mountainaire Inn and Log Cabins won global accolades last month when TripAdvisor recognized the Main Street lodging business as a winner of its 2018 Travelers Choice Awards for being among the “Top 25 Best Bargain Hotels” in the United States, as well as in the world. But Mountainaire wasn’t just “among” the winners. It was the winner, ranked #1 in the United States and #4 globally — and only one other U.S. lodging business made the world list.
Transformed in recent years by owners Jim and Debra McDowell, Mountainaire was listed behind small hotels in Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland, but ahead of other top small lodging establishments in Vietnam, Serbia, Honduras, Mexico, Cambodia, Turkey and Taiwan, as well as others from the UK, Ireland, and Italy, among many others.
Now if you are looking at the list of countries and thinking “Third World,” think again. On TripAdvisor’s list of premier hotels (as opposed to “bargain” hotels), that category’s TOP 25 Hotels in the world included lodging accommodations operated in Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Vietnam, Maldives, and Italy before they even get to the first U.S. hotel, The Nantucket in Massachusetts — and it is the ONLY U.S. hotel among this top 25 list.
Even the list of Top Luxury Hotels in the World has what only a few years ago some would say has a Third Wolrd flavor, with the top vote-getters from Maldives, Morocco and China. Not a single U.S. hotel is in the Top 25. The closest are the Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at #10; The Ritz-Carlton in Montreal, Quebec at #19; and the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. After The Nantucket, the U.S.-only list of luxury hotels includes the Saratoga Arms in Saratoga Springs, New York; the French Quarter Inn in Charleston, South Carolina; Hotel Emma, in San Antonio, Texas; and the Stephanie Inn, in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
When you consider that all of these rankings are compiled from approximately 600 million reviews and opinions self-published by travelers on the TripAdvisor website (about 7.3 million accommodations, attractions, airlines and restaurants), the top ranking (or even making the list) in any category or sub-category is an impressive accomplishment.
The #2 entry on the U.S.-only list of “Top 25 Bargain Hotels” is the Margaretta Inn in Machias, Maine, and is the only other U.S. lodging business listed on the World list, at #14.
Travelers’ Choice awards result from actual travelers submitting roughly 600 million reviews and opinions posted on the TripAdvisor website.
What makes TripAdvisor special is that its Travelers Choice Awards reflect actual travelers visiting and using travel services in several different categories, including Hotels, Restaurants, Attractions, Museums, Airlines, Landmarks, Destinations, Destinations on the Rise, Vacation Rentals, and even Beaches. In each of those main categories there are sub-categories.
Hotel categories, for example, include both U.S. and World considerations in Top Hotels, Small Hotels, Bargain Hotels, Luxury Hotels, Bed & Breakfast Inns, as well as more general sub-categories such as, “Value for Money,” “Romance,” “Best Service,” and “Family.”
Not to take anything at all away from Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabin’s well-deserved recognition, but there is a broader positive impact for Blowing Rock as a whole. When you consider that Mountainaire is operating in a local market, the competition for customers within that market is pushing everyone to do a better job in providing the best possible customer experience for their guests, whether hotels, motels, bed & breakfast inns, restaurants, or attractions. In this case, Mountainaire has just raised the bar for all of Blowing Rock, but the award also resulted, in part, because it is competing in the Blowing Rock market.
Mountainaire’s award raised the bar for all of Blowing Rock, but also resulted in part from competing in the Blowing Rock market.
Before providing both the U.S. and World lists for Best Bargain Hotels below, we’ll leave you with two insightful quotes about competition:
- Gianni Versace: “It is nice to have valid competition. It pushes you to do better.”
- Walt Disney: “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”
Top 25 Best Bargain Hotels in the U.S.
- Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
- Margaretta Inn, Machias, Maine
- All-Star Inn & Suites, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
- Maples Motor Lodge, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
- Armada By The Sea, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
- Candlewood Suites/Hotel Sterling, Sterling, Virginia
- The Trails Inn, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- Rainbow Courts, Rockdale, Texas
- Sleep Inn, Wesley Chapel, Florida
- Gulf Tides Inn, St. Pete Beach, Florida
- Mountain Brook Lodge, Wilmington, New York
- The View Motel, Elizabeth, Illinois
- Imperial 500 Motel, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
- Carribe Inn, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
- Inca Inn, Moab, Utah
- Mt. Williamson Motel, Independence, California
- Asbury Inn & Suites, Wilmore, Kentucky
- Alpine Lodge, Red Lodge, Montana
- The Valley Inn, Maggie Valley, North Carolina
- Buona Sera Inn, Grants Pass, Oregon
- Triangle Motel, Alma, Michigan
- Profile Deluxe Motel, Twin Mountain, New Hampshire
- Best Western Plus Clearfield, Clearfield, Pennsylvania
- Sleep Inn & Suites, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Top 25 Best Bargain Hotels in the World
- Hotel Villa Sirena, Casamicciola Terme, Italy
- Lauriston Court Hotel, Llandudno, United Kingdom
- Castlewood House, Dingle, Ireland
- Mountainaire Inn and Log Cabins, Blowing Rock, North Carolina
- River Palm Villas Hoi An, Hoi An, Vietnam
- Hotel Mint, Belgrade, Serbia
- Splash Inn Dive Resort, West End, Honduras
- Cabo Vista Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Sakli Konak, Uchisar, Turkey
- Hotel Corona, Rivazzurra, Italy
- Grasmere Hotel, Grasmere, United Kingdom
- Basileus Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey
- Margaretta Inn, Machias, Maine
- Las Palmas Maya, Tulum, Mexico
- The Riverside Hotel International, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Jade Hotel, Hue, Vietnam
- Clark’s Sunny Isle Motel, Summerside, Prince Edward Island
- Tegal Sari, Ubud, Indonesia
- Port Douglas Motel, Port Douglas, Australia
- Clair De Lune, Ambatoloaka, Madagascar
- Hotel Casa D’mer Taganga, Taganga, Colombia
- Bedarra Beach Inn, Sigatoka, Fiji
- Luigi’s Complex, Kololi, Gambia
- Hosteria Antu Kuyen, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina