Tucked away in Townsend, the Dancing Bear Lodge and Event Center is a 37 acre retreat on the door step of the Great Smoky Mountains.
“It's just a magical property,” says owner Mark Oldham. “You just sort of get in another world when you drive up the driveway.”
Here, rural and regal collide with wooded escapes, tranquil trails and fine finishings.
“We like to provide guests with luxury accommodations, just a beautiful environment as their base camp for the smokies.”
To appreciate Dancing Bear’s true beauty though, you have to know it’s history. It opened in the 90s as Maple Leaf Lodge. In 2005, new owners renovated the property and renamed it Dancing Bear Lodge.
However, in 2013, a massive fire burned the original lodge to the ground and destroyed much of the property.
“If you've been here before the fire, you probably will remember this beautiful old lodge that was 3 stories, says Oldham. “We thought about rebuilding at first, but decided we couldn't recreate it.”
After the fire, Mark Oldham and his wife bought the property.
“This little bear here... we found him in the rubble.”
Somehow, the bear trinket survived and now hangs in the resort. The Oldham’s did rebuild 4 cabins, a restaurant, a brand new event center and an event lawn where the lodge once stood.
“This is our take on what Dancing Bear should be anyway, and we're really pleased with how it turned out.”
Today, guests can escape to 21 individual hideaways from traditional cabins to upscale villa’s with more modern furnishings.
“And it’s (villas) just got that postmodern industrialism look that’s kinda popular these days.”\
Just a short walk away, the resort’s Appalachian Bistro offers a unique casual dining experience fireside.
“Essentially it's farm to table and our chef likes to say she’s inspired from the hills of North Georgia all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine which is the Appalachian Trail.”
And, like the Appalachian trail, people trek here from all over.
“We have people from New York, California, obviously the highest concentration here in the Southeast, but we’re always amazed by some of these reservations we get. It's away from the road, but not so private that you can't get to it easily. So, that's part of the charm of Dancing Bear.”
The Dancing Bear Lodge also includes the Apple Valley Farm Store and Cafe as well as a Fitness Center. And, you don't have to stay on property to eat at the Appalachian Bistro.
The owners do plan to rebuild a lodge in 2017 or 2018.
For more information visit www.dancingbearlodge.com