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Three tribes, including STOF, partner in Pigeon Forge hotel

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a popular tourist town in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. (Courtesy photo)

The Seminole Tribe has entered into an investment partnership with two other tribes in the development of a hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The well-known tourist town is located in the foothills of the scenic Great Smoky Mountains and is home to the Dollywood Theme Park.

The Seminole Tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have joined with hotel developer DreamCatcher Hotels. DreamCatcher, which made the announcement May 17, describes the hotel as “high-end, AAA-rated Four Diamond.”

“We are thrilled about our partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” Zeke Cooper, president of DreamCatcher franchise development, said in a statement. “The Pigeon Forge property launches a new milestone in our company, opening as the first hotel under our brand name. Our tribal partners share our bold vision of developing and investing in unique and innovative hospitality properties, located in areas we know people want to visit. We are excited and humbled by their investment and trust. Our goal is to create significant returns for each tribe’s members.”

Pigeon Forge has less than 6,000 residents, but it attracts millions of visitors each year. The town is 10 miles from the entrance to Smoky Mountains National Park, which drew more than 12 million visitors in 2020.

Dollywood, the sprawling amusement park co-owned by Dolly Parton, also attracts millions of visitors annually.

“On behalf of the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, I’m excited to be part of this historic development, which I am confident will continue to secure the economic future of our Tribal Members and drive economic prosperity for many years to come,” Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. said in a statement. “The Seminole Tribe has deep experience in owning and operating hotels, and we are very familiar with Pigeon Forge, a market that attracts millions of vacationers, conventions, weddings and athletic tournaments each year.”

“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are proud to partner with our sister tribes, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians on this inaugural project,” Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians said in a statement. “It is our hope that this will be but one of many economic development projects our tribes can partner on, helping to secure the financial future of our tribes. We are grateful for the opportunity as well as the partnership with DreamCatcher as the project developer.”

The property will feature 12,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, a rooftop restaurant and lounge, and 200 guest rooms. The hotel site is located near dining, shopping and excursion options. It is adjacent to the LeConte Center meeting and event facility. Also nearby is the Ripken Experience, a baseball/softball complex that is home to camps and tournaments. Its founders are the Ripken family, including Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

The three tribes involved in the development have long been part of the NAYO and NASA youth and adult baseball, basketball and softball tournaments that are held annually.

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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