Something big is about to happen behind a plain picket fence on the Parkway in Gatlinburg. A new hotel is planned for the two-acre parcel across the street from Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and it will have a unique aerial lift system that transports guests to a 55-acre mountain adventure park.
The Anakeesta Village and Lodge on the Parkway will feature an upscale boutique hotel and restaurant with an outdoor plaza and nearly 40,000 square feet of retail space for shops and other restaurants. With parking at a premium in Gatlinburg, guests will be able to park onsite in an attached parking garage.
The resort will be tailored for mid to upper income Gen X and Millennial travelers. According to property marketing materials, “The innovative design and guest experience at Anakeesta Lodge will set a new benchmark for the Gatlinburg hotel market.”
Developers say the hotel’s amenities, retail space and Chondola, a small gondola that typically carries four to eight people, connecting it to AerialQuest on Anakeesta Mountain will set their hotel apart from others in Gatlinburg.
The Choldola is designed by Leitner-Poma and will take hotel guests and visitors on a 12-minute ride over the treetops to the adventure park on the mountain above. AerialQuest on Anakeesta Mountain is described as a family friendly, aerial adventure park that will offer aerial trekking, racing zip line, hiking trails, canopy walks and an observation tower.
When the fraternity decided to dispose of its land holdings in Gatlinburg, including parcels home to Pi Beta Phi Elementary School and the beloved Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts, it sent Arrowmont looking for a new location in cities such as Knoxville and Greeneville, Tenn. However, the City of Gatlinburg was reluctant to see the school go and gave $3.5 million of the $8 million the school needed to buy the property. In the end, Arrowmont struck a deal with the fraternity to purchase thirteen acres housing its main campus and the Sevier County Board of Education acquired the three acres with the elementary school. Silverbell purchased the remaining two acres with Parkway frontage, having already bought the 55-acre wooded parcel behind Arrowmont.
Groundbreaking will begin this fall, with both AerialQuest Adventure Park and the Anakeesta Village and Lodge scheduled to open in the spring of 2017.