In September, Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge Pigeon Forge celebrated its grand opening.
When I visited the property, I was shocked by how peaceful yet fun the Lodge and RV park were.
The Margaritaville empire wants to open 30 to 50 more RV parks through the next five years.
For better or for worse, there are very few places in the US like Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The eastern Tennessee tourist town offers a slice of Las Vegas at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
From the bright lights to the rows of kitschy attractions, Pigeon Forge's main strip is a visual feast for travelers stuck in the inevitable traffic.
Driving down the main parkway, you're bound to hit Dolly Parton's Dollywood to your right, a Titanic Museum to your left, an indoor snow park behind you, and endless shows and theaters all around you.
No matter where you look, you're guaranteed a seemingly random assortment of entertainment, food, and shopping.
If you're easily overwhelmed, it may be difficult to find a reprieve from Pigeon Forge's charisma.
But shockingly, that's exactly what Margaritaville's latest property in the Tennessee town has to offer.
In late September, I spent a night at Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge Pigeon Forge and was pleasantly surprised by the property's peaceful yet fun family friendly environment.
When I think of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, I don't picture a quiet mountainside retreat. I think of Jimmy Buffet, booze, and a tropical "Parrothead" getaway.
But somehow, the Buffett-branded hospitality giant has managed to bring a warm, relaxing, and quiet flair to the Tennessee mountainside.
Margaritaville's tropical branding is a cornerstone of its properties, whether it be at its restaurants, hotels, or resorts.
I've visited several Margaritaville properties, including its hotel in New York City, cruise ship, restaurant in the Cancun Airport, and RV park in Auburndale, Florida.
And compared to these other concepts, Camp Margaritaville Pigeon Forge felt more like a peaceful getaway than a boozy party-like Margaritaville outpost.
The speakers still blast country music …
… but the idyllic Adirondack chairs facing the mountains, slow lazy river, and pickleball court all made the property feel more like a slower paced tranquil resort.
But if you prefer a traditional — maybe rowdier — Margaritaville, don't fret. There are still two bars to fulfill any of your margarita cravings.
"Pigeon Forge can be stressful," Andy Hime, the property's general manager, told Insider. "We try to create an inviting and calm atmosphere … so if you don't ever really want to leave the property, you don't have to."
The RV site began welcoming guests in June 2021 and the Lodge opened its doors much later in February.
Final additional amenities like the lazy river and downstairs entertainment center were completed in the summer of 2022.
The RV resort and its adjacent Lodge hotel just celebrated a grand opening in September …
… but the property and Margaritaville's presence in the Tennessee town is far from new.
The Jimmy Buffett brand already has a stronghold in town.
There are four other Margaritaville properties nearby, including a restaurant.
Hime believes the area has the highest concentration of Margaritaville properties in the country.
And the brand recognition is "nice," but according to Hime, the properties don't compete.
"We have our own little niche and we coexist very well," he said.
If it wasn't evident yet, Camp Margaritaville's "niche" is right in its name.
Over the last year, Margaritaville has been looking to expand its RV resorts arm, fittingly named "Camp Margaritaville."
But I didn't need to rent or buy an RV just to visit this outpost.
Because the property has a "Lodge" hotel next to the RV park, I was still able to enjoy all of Camp Margaritaville's amenities while spending the night in a comfortable traditional hotel room.
And after one night in the Lodge, I can confidently say the 128,000-square-foot property could put any one of Pigeon Forge's motels to shame.
Margaritaville's signature branding was noticeable throughout the entire hotel …
… and I was surprised by how much the blue walls and tropical decor — whether it be the art on the walls or the woven rattan lights — made the Lodge feel like a slice of seaside paradise in the landlocked state.
A pool with a water slide was located just off the hotel's restaurant, making this indoor-outdoor space feel more like a beachside resort.
And downstairs, the hotel hid a treasure trove of activities that could satisfy any child.
I've never seen a hotel with an arcade, duck pin bowling alley, or video game lounge.
But here, these spaces were just a short elevator ride from my room.
There were enough activities to keep a whole family entertained for an afternoon, and I wouldn't be surprised if parents have had to drag their children away from this entertainment complex.
Upstairs, my deluxe hotel room was unlike any I've ever stayed in and felt just as fun as the entertainment center.
I traveled alone, but the spacious room could've easily accommodated six people with the help of the extra nook designed to look like a "glamping" tent.
Thick flaps akin to a canvas tent separated this additional sleeping space from the rest of the hotel room ...
… which made the small room — complete with sleeping bag-like beds — feel more like a children's "glamping" tent than a hotel.
There's something to be said for Margaritaville's ability to evoke a sense of its local environment while still sticking to its kitschy yet strong branding.
The Lodge was a perfect mix between a distinctly Margaritaville getaway and a mountainside lodge.
The Jimmy Buffett lyrics above my bed …
… Fins Bar and Chill Restaurant (a dining concept available across many Margaritaville properties) …
… relaxing lazy river, and pool all made the Lodge feel like a buzzing tropical hotel.
But the Lodge's cabin-like exterior, peaceful outdoor Adirondack chairs, fire pit, and tent-like rooms were still strong visual reminders of the nearby Great Smoky Mountains.
Despite the surrounding mountains, the hotel still felt like a true beachside Margaritaville outpost.
I may have spent most of my time wandering around the Lodge, but I still had access to the RV resort portion of the property.
And when I drove around the RV park, I was surprised by its tranquility.
Pigeon Forge is known for its easy access to both the outdoors and fun attractions, and Camp Margaritaville Pigeon Forge's RV resort felt no different.
Here, there were no loud sounds from the arcade, no echoes from the pool table, and no sounds of giddy children going down the waterslide.
Instead, it felt more peaceful and idyllic with views of the surrounding mountains and RVs bordering the tall trees.
The hotel and all of its activities were just a quick walk away from the RV park ...
… but the outdoor children's playground, pickleball court, and picnic tables provided RVing families with enough outdoor activities.
Besides the outdoor recreational activities, there were still plenty of amenities for RVers, including a laundry room, bathhouse, and even a dog park.
After a full day of wandering around Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge Pigeon Forge, I realized the property held its own as a destination worth driving miles for.
Like Margaritaville's Auburndale, Florida location, Camp Margaritaville Pigeon Forge had enough on-site amenities to keep children entertained and parents happy at the bar (it is Margaritaville after all).
And despite its proximity to Dollywood, the nearby national park, and all Pigeon Forge has to offer, the property was shockingly peaceful and relaxing.
It's a hidden gem — a getaway from the lively tourist town while still serving as a fun property if you choose to stay close to your hotel room or RV.
While I enjoyed my time at the Camp Margaritaville outpost as a solo traveler, I do think the property is better suited for families visiting Pigeon Forge, Tennessee by RV or car.
If you're looking for a quiet retreat into the woods while still being in the heart of Pigeon Forge, I'd suggest bringing a RV.
But if you'd rather stay in a fun hotel with enough on-site recreational activities to rival Pigeon Forge's other tourist attractions, opt for the Lodge, which feels more like a traditional Margaritaville property.
Just be sure to book ahead.
During peak season, the Tennessee Camp Margaritaville destination is booked out almost every day of the week, Hime said.
Winter may be slower, but the property still hits an over 50% occupancy rate during the weekday.
And on winter weekends, Hime says it gets close to being fully booked, although the hotel wasn't open until this past February.
These booking rates may already sound like a success for a resort in a tourist destination, but Hime believes this popularity will just continue to increase as Camp Margaritaville continues to establish itself in this mountainside destination.
And it's this popularity that has pushed Margaritaville to continue expanding its RV arm.
The Jimmy Buffett brand is targeting over 30 more locations through the next five years, Jim Wiseman, the president of development at Camp Margaritaville, told Insider in 2021.
And if its future Camp Margaritaville locations continue to meld this familiar sense of branding and family friendly fun with the local environment, I have little doubt its upcoming destinations will be a hit with both RVers and traditional travelers.
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