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Dolly's resort nears finish, aims for summer opening

Posted at 8:10 PM, Feb 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-12 09:55:59-05

PIGEON FORGE — Dollywood’s efforts to attract more visitors overnight in addition to during the day is nearing a reality, as officials announced that the park’s DreamMore Resort opening is just months away.

Due to unforeseen construction delays, an exact opening date was not announced Wednesday during a media tour of the expansive facility off Veterans Boulevard just beyond the park. But officials believe they still will make its target opening of this summer, Dollywood vice president of hospitality Amy Owenby said.

The resort is part of Dollywood’s $300 million, 10-year expansion project. The resort will be open year-round and festivals and entertainment are planned for January through March when temperatures keep Dollywood mostly closed.

During a walking tour through the halls and lobbies that need primarily only finishing work, Owenby offered new details on the facility, including the first publicly seen sketches of the outdoor pool area.

That area includes waterfalls, a lazy river and a splash pad with fountains.

Inside, the hotel will include 307 rooms, an indoor pool, a spa, a sit-down restaurant and quick-food facility, a Kid’s Club area where youngsters can make music, spacious lounge and lobby areas, and Dolly Parton’s suite.

Yes, the famous entertainer and park owner plans to stay there, as does her family. And so can others, Owenby said.

“She wants to stay there, but it will be for rent and comes with an extra level of privileges,” she said.

Another feature Owenby trumpeted is the large window near the lobby and stairway, which offers a view of the natural setting. “This will be one of the visitors’ first glimpses of the mountains and the beauty of the Smokies,” she said.

Although Dollywood has offered cabins for vacationers, this is its first hotel/resort venture.

Owenby does not believe the new resort will take away customers from area hotels outside the park that have long depended on Dollywood’s ability to attract tourists. She says the resort’s marketing efforts should bring more visitors who might stay elsewhere.

“We think it benefits everyone,” Owenby said.

The resort has launched a website — dreammoreresort.com — and is soliciting for members of a “Founders Club,” that would receive discounts and promotions. Details on pricing will be announced in March.

Owenby said that a family atmosphere will be the primary theme of the resort, which was designed by the architectural firm of Fugleberg Koch of Florida and is being built by general contractor D&S Builders of Sevierville. Gemstone Hotels and Resorts is managing the property.

“We want to make sure we take care of their needs every day,” she said.