An inside look at Dollywood’s newest resort, Heartsong Lodge & Resort

What do the Declaration of Independence, the Statue of Liberty and Dolly Parton all have in common? Well, they’re all national treasures. But only one of them has a new resort open at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, and TPG was there in November when Dolly officially opened Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge & Spa.

If you’re confused about why the singer, songwriter, actress and philanthropist has a resort, then you might not know about her incredible Smoky Mountain theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It’s one of my favorite theme parks in the world, along with its original resort, Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort & Spa.

With more and more folks flocking to Pigeon Forge to spend a few days riding over-the-top coasters, munching on mouthwatering cinnamon bread and maybe even spending a few nights on Dolly’s retired tour bus, Dollywood needed more space and more rooms to house all of the fun.

So whether you’ve been to Dollywood dozens of times like me, or you’re planning your very first trip to Dolly’s “Tennessee Mountain Home,” here’s what you need to know about staying at Dolly’s contemporary new lodge, Heartsong.


What is Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge & Resort

Heartsong is the second of two official resorts associated with Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood. While the original, Dreammore, leans into a sort of Chip and Joanna Gaines-like upscale southern design, 302-room Heartsong fully embraces the mountain lodge aesthetic. It feature stone fireplaces, woodland creature motifs, huge vaulted ceilings in the lobby and each hotel floor representing the colors and scenes of a different season in the Smokies.

Related: 11 best hotels near Dollywood

A true family-friendly resort, there’s an indoor and outdoor pool, kids activities throughout the day, rooms designed for families with bunk beds, a restaurant and bar, plus special perks for guests at Dollywood, but more on all of that later.


How to book Dollywood’s Heartsong Lodge & Resort

Unfortunately, Heartsong is not associated with any major loyalty program, and getting any elitelike perks here is unlikely — especially as so many different room configurations are tailored to certain types of guests, like suites with bunkbeds.

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That said, Heartsong can be a great value, depending on the time of year you visit. Entry-level king rooms with a sleeper sofa start around $199 per night, while the same room with the balcony starts at $249 per night. A family suite with bunk beds starts around $274 per night, and a junior suite with a balcony, a king-size bed, sleeper sofa and bunk beds starts around $374 per night.

Just note that during peak season, like in the summer and during busy holiday weekends, those rates can fluctuate.


If you’re a frequent Dollywood visitor, one way to save on rooms is by purchasing a Dollywood Seasons pass to receive 10% off on Dollywood resort bookings.

The rooms are modern and comfortable


Having stayed at and obsessed over Dolly’s original resort, Dreammore, I was excited to see how Heartsong would differentiate itself from its beautiful sister property. Let me tell you, the folks behind Heartsong found a way to expand on the spirit of Dolly that permeates Dreammore while creating an entirely new concept with rooms that feel like a fresh and modern mountain lodge.

In my room, a king with a balcony and Murphy bed, I was truly impressed from the moment I walked in. Measuring a minimum of 350 square feet, the room immediately felt large, fresh and, probably most important, homey and relaxing. The sage and forest green color palette, combined with soft leather and wood accents, immediately made me feel like I was in the mountains. Modern touches, both subtle and very present, also made it clear the room was well in touch with the 21st century.

Walking in, a large mirror with leather straps was hanging on the wall, followed by an exposed closet with coat hangers, a few shelves, an unstocked minifridge (there’s a gas station across from the resort area entrance to stock up on snacks and drinks, plus a market off the lobby), a safe, an ice bucket, and an iron and ironing board.


In the main bedroom area, I was impressed by the chic and simple wood and leather headboard with more leather straps (a theme throughout the room). Above the bed was a cute mural with a sunset view of the Smoky Mountains (reminiscent of the cover of Dolly’s “Blue Smoke” album) behind a mama and baby bear and flowers hosting Dolly’s signature symbol, butterflies. The bed itself was perfectly comfortable, and I slept fine during my three-night stay.

On one nightstand, there were built-in power outlets, and on the other nightstand, an alarm clock with wireless charging capabilities.


Across from the bed was a long wooden console with a padded bench that I’m sure would’ve been a great place to take my shoes off (though I used it as a place to dump my backpack), plus storage and a 42-inch TV with streaming capabilities.

There was also a desk with a chair perfect for getting some work done, along with a small but efficient single-cup coffee maker. One thing I especially loved was a little sound machine where you could mix different nature sounds to really make it feel like you were on old Rocky Top.


Opposite the desk, a small couch sat against a wooden cabinet that contained a pre-made Murphy bed. The couch magically collapsed down when the Murphy bed was open, making it easy to convert the space.


There was also a balcony overlooking the entrance to the resort with two chairs and a wooden table.


The bathroom was a two-room affair with a single-sink vanity and lots of extra surface space. There was a huge mirror with those wooden straps, but with the added effect of an in-mirror light to glow as bright as Dolly (plus etched lightning bugs, otherwise known as fireflies). Of course there were also extra towels, a hair dryer and some small bathroom amenities.

There was also a black cosmetics washrag, which I found funny considering Dolly has said publicly she never takes off her face at night.


The toilet and shower were separated by a sliding barn door, so two people could, in theory, use the space at the same time, but don’t expect it to work as much of a sound barrier. The shower had a glass sliding door, white shower tiles and Heartsong-branded bathroom amenities that smelled quite nice.

Get your fill with elevated Southern food


Trust me when I say you won’t go hungry at Heartsong, as there are a handful of places to eat or wet your whistle.


Start your day with Starbucks coffee and grab-and-go from the Songbird Market in the morning. There, you can load up on snacks for the day, order a sandwich or a pizza, grab ready-made food to take with you or get Dollywood’s world-famous cinnamon bread for a sugary jolt. It’s open throughout the day, so don’t worry if you need to get your afternoon caffeine fix on, too.


The main restaurant, open for breakfast and dinner, is Ember & Elm: Tastes Rooted In The Smokies. Situated in a beautiful, modern dining room, guests can have a continental breakfast ($19) or order dishes like chicken and waffles (go for the Nashville hot chicken, $19), cinnamon bread french toast casserole ($14) or healthier options like avocado toast ($18).

For dinner, make a reservation and load your table up with Southern comfort classics and good-for-the-soul favorites. Biscuits (my favorite food) came to the table without ordering (a dream). I truly enjoyed everything I ate, including deviled eggs three ways (crispy pimento cheese, chicken caesar and hot honey shrimp, $14), a mouthwatering heirloom tomato and burrata salad with grilled peaches ($15) and an airline pan-seared chicken breast with brussels sprouts and root vegetable puree ($32).


At the restaurant’s casual bar, where you can also order food, I enjoyed an amazing wedge salad with grilled chicken and lots of great toppings, like crispy bacon, tomatoes and bleu cheese ($16). I also ordered a caramel apple Old-Fashioned with a sticky, caramel-glazed rim ($16). The bar called High Note is open later, and I found it full of tired parents on a Saturday night visit after Dollywood closed.

Lastly, you can order food and drinks to the pool with poolside service. Or, if you feel like staying put in your room, an in-room menu with highlights from all the aforementioned dining outlets is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

There are two pools for guests to enjoy


Though I visited Heartsong in early November, I’ve been to the sister property Dreammore multiple times during warmer months. I can tell you the pools there were constantly busy and full of parents lounging in chairs, kids giggling and splashing around and an overall joyous atmosphere that comes with a theme park vacation.


As it warms up, I know the same will be said of the large outdoor pool at Heartsong. It has a sort of funky U-shape design with a zero-entry area on one side and a peninsula-like space in the middle; I could just imagine my niece using it as an Olympic-like jumping platform. There’s also a waterfall that’s sure to be a hit with anyone looking to cool down during a sticky Tennessee summer day. For even more fun, there’s a splash pad for kids.


There’s also a hot tub outside that stays open as the temperatures drop, and both kids and adults were flocking to it.


Even when the outdoor pool is closed, a large indoor pool is open every day until 10 p.m., giving the little ones a good way to burn what energy is left after a long day running around.

Family-friendly activities abound


Though you’ll likely spend most of your time whizzing around on rides like Big Bear Mountain at Dollywood, if you have kiddos, be sure to save a little time to enjoy one of the many on-property experiences like Camp DW.

With that program, kids (and kids at heart) can pay between $10 and $20 to participate in different crafts, like making magnets or Christmas tree ornaments. I joined a group to make my own stuffed fox, even making a wish on the heart before putting it in; I was happy to have a special keepsake to bring home.

Other activities include daily reading time in the library filled with books from Dolly’s Imagination Library, a charity she started that has donated more than 2 million books to kids around the world.

And at night, join the Camp DW crew for “Roasties,” where all guests can grab a gourmet marshmallow (we’re talking the ones stuffed with even more sweet goodies), get a spot around the campfire and make s’mores while lightning bugs dance around. Some nights, there’s even a live sing-along.


And if simply sitting by the fire is your ideal way to pass the time, there’s a centerpiece firepit outside with dozens of chairs surrounding it, plus smaller pits your group or family can claim. Inside, chairs and couches are centered around a massive double-sided stone fireplace; nearly every time I walked by I saw someone cuddled up with a book in hand.

Resort guests get great perks at Dollywood


Making Heartsong a Homebase for a visit to Dollywood is a great idea because hotel guests get the VIP treatment.

For starters, ticketed guests get priority access to Dolly and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park and early entry on Saturday to enjoy a select ride (though there are some restrictions). You’ll also get complimentary TimeSaver Passes that allow you to skip the line on certain rides five times in a day and make reservations for certain shows. You’ll also get free trolley service to and from the parks and the option to have in-park purchases delivered to the front desk of the resort.

If you need more help planning your perfect day, we have a handy guide with everything you need to know before visiting Dollywood.

Checking out


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Dollywood is one of the best theme parks in the country. If you even have an inkling of desire to visit, here’s your sign to go.

Now, it’s only getting better with the addition of a modern new resort that’s a great place to spend a day. At Dollywood, you can sleep in a beautiful hotel, eat at a truly wonderful restaurant, enjoy rides for the whole family and then spend the next day exploring one of our most beautiful national parks.

Some might say that Dolly Parton had no idea what she was doing when she converted a tired old theme park into Dollywood back in 1986. But I know in my heart she knew exactly what she was doing — and exactly what it would become: a world-class experience with not just one but two incredible resorts for the whole family to enjoy.

Best credit cards for booking hotels near Dollywood

There are over a dozen excellent travel rewards credit cards out there for hotel stays. The right one(s) for you will depend on if you’re loyal to a particular program or chain, whether you want premium perks, and if you value benefits like annual free nights, automatic elite status and lucrative earning rates.

Here are three great credit cards to use for booking stays across a variety of hotel chains and independent properties while still enjoying money-saving features and high-end benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express


Earning rates: This card earns 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal (on up to $500,000 of airfare purchases per calendar year). Plus, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar. Remember, Amex points transfer to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio, to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio and to Choice Privileges at a 1:1 ratio, and there are sometimes transfer bonuses.

Benefits: This card is absolutely packed with perks, but among the travel-related ones you’ll want to maximize, including some hotel-specific benefits, are:

*Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees).

Read our review of the Amex Platinum card.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card


Earning rates: Earn an unlimited 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel and an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.

Benefits: Cardholders get $300 in credits annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel, plus 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, starting on your first anniversary (worth $100 toward travel). Through the Capital One Premier Collection, cardmembers can enjoy free breakfast, on-property credits and room upgrades (if available) on stays at participating properties booked through Capital One Travel. They also receive up to $100 in statement credits for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Annual fee: $395 (see rates and fees)

Read our review of the Capital One Venture X.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Earning rates: This card accrues 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, on Lyft purchases (through March 2025) and on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases of $150 or more (through March 2025, with a limit of 25,000 bonus points). It also racks up 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal; and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Benefits: Cardholders receive a $50 statement credit on hotel stays purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal upon opening the card and each following cardmember anniversary. They also receive a 10% bonus based on their total spending during the account anniversary year at a rate of 1 point for each $10 spent. This card also has some of the best travel protections in the industry, including trip cancellation insurance, trip delay insurance and primary rental car coverage, among other policies.

Annual fee: $95

Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Related reading:

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

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