Dolly Parton’s new resort lodgeDolly Parton’s new resort lodge

Inside Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge in the Tennessee mountains

Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge

The committed begin making travel arrangements when they learn that a tiny blonde with a high hairstyle and even higher heels is predicted to be in a specific area of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

With their necks cocked and phones raised, throngs of people assemble in search of video evidence of this contagious laugh and broad smile. a talented singer-songwriter, astute businesswoman, and well-liked performer in general who doesn’t mind cracking jokes about her boob during her own press conference.

Dolly Parton just established her second resort hotel in the Smokies, which is attached to the Dollywood theme park complex in eastern Tennessee. Her presence there creates an ambiance like that. Driven by Parton’s celebrity power, her long-standing commercial association with Harshened Family Entertainment also has an estimated $1.8 billion annual direct economic impact. Future plans call for the construction of more Dollywood resorts and attractions to support the state’s burgeoning tourism sector.

At the official opening of the 302-room HeartSong Resort & Resort on Friday, Dolly Parton made an appearance to introduce the venue in true Dolly fashion. She sang and played chords for a short while, reciting lines from 1994’s “Heartsong” in honor of her rural Tennessee upbringing, which the rustic resort is inspired by.

Dolly Parton described the resort’s design as “high-fashion rustic,” but it doesn’t have to do with her glittering, starry persona. As she took the stage in a striking print dress with black ruffles at the hem, black beading draped at the waist, and a signature plunging neckline that prompted the comment, “I’m the only person that ever left the Smoky Mountains and took ’em with her,” the 77-year-old star herself delivered plenty of glitz at the opening.

At Heart Song, however, it’s Dolly Parton‘s kindness and hospitality—not her ostentatious fashion—that shine through.

“I’m just a simple, laid-back person, and everyone I grew up with was also kind and laid-back. And I suppose that does follow you once it’s kind of ingrained in your entire psyche and existence.

Workers all across the Dollywood complex grin as they ask how they may assist visitors.

Parton, who was the fourth of twelve children and grew up rich in music but without material wealth, said, “When you grow up in a big family, you cater to one another, you cater to your neighbors, you cater to your friends; even on Sundays when the preacher comes over, you’re always kind of giving, and we kind of have that spirit (at Dollywood resorts)”.

An opulent yet rustic lodge

Inside Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge in the Tennessee mountains

Here, Dolly Parton’s early years spent in the east Tennessee foothills are the main focus.

An enormous image of the artist is displayed on one side of a four-story stone fireplace in the lobby, which has an iron grate depicting a young Dolly surrounded by trees and butterflies. A huge screen behind the registration desk spins with images that correspond to the season: in autumn, a mother bear and her uncoordinated cubs, a stately, flashing owl, and the red, brown, and ochre hues of the treetops covering the crests of the mountains.

The hotel is decorated with images of the outdoors and the changing of the seasons. The guest room levels’ hallways are decorated with artwork representing the four seasons, and the carpet features images of fireflies that enthralled Dolly Parton as a child next to concentric rings found in tree trunks—a fitting tribute to life’s experiences acquired over time. With balconies on about half of the rooms, visitors may take in the fresh mountain air.

Wall-length murals in the guestrooms depict scenes with bears, raccoons, and butterflies in the daytime or at night. Over a dozen different types of rooms and suites are available, including many setups with kid-only bunk rooms that come with mattresses that are made up like a sleeping bag-sheet hybrid that unzips.

Heart Song uses Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to encourage young children to read by incorporating it into their morning reading time and Camp DW kids’ crafts. In addition to an indoor pool and hot tub, there’s an outdoor pool with a waterfall and splash playground. There are lifeguards at both pools. Evening singalongs are held around a giant bonfire, and there are smaller firepit-equipped lounging places all across the spacious terrace. The resort’s nighttime “Roasties,” an elevated version of s’mores, are served around a wood-burning bonfire.

The lobby has soft, dark blue velvet sofas with a faint shine, even though the lodge is rustic. HeartSong’s unique Acoustic Lobby, a pink-and-purple area available for private dining, features the singer’s glittering style. 

Here, displays of Parton’s stunning attire may be found next to a chandelier made of acoustic guitars. The room is available for guests to utilize when it’s not being used as a private area.

The main restaurant, Ember & Elm, serves a la carte breakfast and dinner, offering typical Southern fare (the biscuits paired with local jams are particularly delicious). There’s also a grab-and-go market. With all-day eating, the more relaxed restaurant/bar High Note is located next door.

Heart Song opened in the same vicinity as Dream More Resort and Spa, Dollywood’s first hotel, in 2015. That hotel, with its spa and salon, exudes a more feminine vibe.

The new Heart Song Lodge’s peak season rates begin at $319. Dream More prices during peak season start at $269. Since the theme park is closed in January and February, rates are usually lower.

Devoted supporters traveled for hours to witness the resort’s debut.

Inside Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge in the Tennessee mountains

Dolly Parton inspires hordes of followers with her songs, generosity, and rustic charm; many of them go on to become devoted clients. For the resort’s debut, several people traveled from far and wide to Pigeon Forge in the hopes of seeing their idol.

Allen Jones, a Dollywood season pass holder, drove seven hours from Dothan, Alabama. He has done this numerous times. He used to travel here with family members who have now passed away, but over the years, he has made friends with other ardent Parton supporters from throughout the nation, and they frequently get together.

Sitting in the hotel lobby, Jones, 54, declared, “They’re my family now.” She was sporting a T-shirt that proclaimed, “Everyone has an addiction.” Dolly Parton just so happens to be mine. On Friday, Jones saw Parton twice: once in the morning at her press conference and once when she was leaving HeartSong for the day.

A decade ago, while suffering from complications from diabetes that left her in a two-month coma, Carol Malerbi traveled from New Hampshire to Dollywood in the hopes of meeting Dolly Parton.

Together with her spouse Jim, who crafted a chopping board featuring an eagle and a butterfly for Parton, she exclaimed, “I just love her, I love her inspiration.” In the hopes that Parton would get it, the pair donated it to the HeartSong employees. They had planned their first visit to Dollywood in anticipation of seeing the celebrity, and they succeeded in doing so for “two seconds” on Friday night when Parton left the hotel.

Autumn Martin was having a great time on her first trip to HeartSong with her husband, their 8-year-old kid, and her husband’s parents. She was wearing a pink Dolly Parton sweatshirt. The Marietta, Georgia, elementary school teacher is such a lover of Dolly Parton that she has blended the singer’s message and music into her teaching.

“My whole classroom is Dolly-themed,” she said. Each year Martin and her kindergarten class stage a year-end production of Dolly Parton songs, with some tweaked lyrics (“9 to 5” becomes “8 to 3” to better align with her school’s hours).

“We adore the glitter and the sparkles. When questioned about Dolly Parton’s impact, she responded, “But it’s really about being kind.” She teaches us to have compassion for everyone. She is the epitome of true goodness. I want the children to aspire to that.

Some fans consider going to Dollywood to be almost religious, especially if they have the chance to see Dolly herself during an event like HeartSong’s premiere.

A giddy little child who was looking into a room off the resort foyer on Friday claimed to have seen the superstar herself.

The woman standing next to him remarked, “I wish you gave God this much thought.”

Dollywood is a significant business in Tennessee.

With almost three million visitors to Dollywood last year, Dolly Parton’s continuing popularity made it the state’s most popular ticketed attraction. According to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), Sevier County, which is home to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, brought in around $3.8 billion in visitor spending in 2022, ranking third behind Davidson County, which is home to Nashville, and Shelby County, which is home to Memphis.

This amount represents a 53% increase above pre-pandemic 2018 data. “We’re the fastest-growing state in terms of visitor spending out of the top 40 tourism states in America,” TDTD Commissioner Mark Ezell told CNN Travel.

Dolly Parton is “our second first lady of Tennessee,” according to Ezell, who described Parton’s influence on the state as “profound, and it keeps on growing.”

Furthermore, Heart Song Lodge is located only ten miles to the north of the most popular national park in the US, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Heart Song’s event area is 26,000 square feet. According to Kevin Osborn, general manager of HeartSong, the resort added that room to boost commerce, especially during the two months that Dollywood is closed for the winter.

Onward with the construction of new Dollywood resorts and attractions.

Inside Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge in the Tennessee mountains

Naturally, it all began with a theme park.

Before Dolly Parton’s involvement turned the site into Dollywood, it was home to three previous parks. Rebel Railroad was the first park to open in 1961. Subsequently, Gold Rush Junction and Silver Dollar City emerged, with its proprietors Jack and Pete Harshened collaborating with Parton during the 1980s. When Dollywood debuted on May 3, 1986, attendance more than doubled compared to the previous season.

For those who are unaware, Dollywood offers roller coasters, rides, and live performances in addition to a two-room cabin recreation of Parton’s childhood Tennessee mountain home, which helps guests understand her humble beginnings. A bald eagle sanctuary is located in the park, housing over a dozen non-releasable birds in a forested area.

Subsequently, there have been numerous renovations and expansions, culminating in the May opening of the $25 million Big Bear Mountain roller coaster.

And there’s still more in store for devoted Dolly lovers. The former Chasing Rainbows Museum and a few other surrounding buildings will undergo a comprehensive renovation, and The Dolly Parton Experience is scheduled to open in May 2024.

It will feature interactive highlights from Parton’s life, including her TV series, films, numerous duets, and her cherished Imagination Library, which provides kids with free books. “Behind the Seams,” which will feature her performing attire, wigs, and more, will be housed in a different structure. In order to observe how their idol traveled the nation, visitors will also be able to board one of her previous tour buses, which are now being removed from the park for refurbishment.

Eugene Naughton, president of the Dollywood firm, stated that the firm intends to eventually build three more resorts, one of which will be an upscale RV experience with an outlook for 2026. In addition, Dream More intends to update its décor in 2024.

During the press conference, Dolly Parton stated, “You know every few years I get a little facelift, a little nip, and tuck myself,” and she added that “sooner” her hotels should follow suit.

Situated a short distance from Parton’s birthplace, these attractions serve to augment the rapidly growing tourism portfolio of the location.

“This is my home, so I’m really proud of every company, hotel, motel, and person in the area,” she remarked.

Inside Dolly Parton’s new resort lodge in the Tennessee mountains

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