MAGGIE VALLEY — The past five years have seen a gradual uptick in Maggie Valley tourism, creating a positive impact for businesses, including the local hospitality industry, said Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Smith.
With that, a number of recognizable Soco Road hospitality establishments, including four in the past several months, are under new ownership.
Jim Blyth, owner of Elk Country Realty, said the new ownership at Maggie Valley’s inns, hotels and motels might be attributed to broader increasing trends in the economy, contributing to the increase in tourism and encouraging real estate sales.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing,” Blyth said. “A lot of folks are coming back and rediscovering Maggie Valley.”
Maggie Valley Inn and Conference Center
The valley’s largest hotel at 70 Soco Road is getting a facelift once the fall tourist season is through, said new owner Bob Patel.
Patel said he comes from the eastern part of North Carolina, and wants to turn the 99-room Maggie Valley Inn into a franchise property.
According to documents from the Haywood County Register of Deeds office, the hotel will operate under the Clarion Hotels brand.
Patel said Rendezvous Restaurant will remain operational, with plans to renovate the restaurant after upgrades are completed in the hotel portion of the Maggie Valley Inn.
Mike Eveland, a current Maggie Valley alderman who is running for mayor, said he would still be running the Rendezvous Restaurant and the Tiki Bar, along with Beth Reece, who formerly owned the property.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Eveland said. “The only thing we’ve been told is there will be some cosmetic changes and that a Clarion flag will go up sometime in March. ... For now, we’re still here and working it. Nothing has changed.”
Veda Inn & Cottages
The motel formerly known as The Alamo at 1485 Soco Road has been stripped to its bare bones in anticipation of a complete remodel, including a new name for the establishment, said owners David and Natalia Miller of Lake Junaluska.
The couple decided to name the property after their daughter, Mia Veda Miller.
“Everything we do is for her,” Natalia said.
And so the six-bedroom inn portion of Veda Inn & Cottages should be open by November, David said.
“We’ve been out here every day since Sept. 1,” David said. “Everything we put in here is going to be top-of-the-line.”
The 1-acre property was a disaster when the Millers first received the keys, David said. The Alamo’s four cottages and four trailers will be replaced by the Veda Inn’s tiny houses, and the two bedroom, two bathroom house on-site will receive a full remodel, David said.
“We want to retire by the time we’re 50,” David said. “Real estate is definitely the way to go,”
Laurel Park Inn
Unlike the Veda Inn-in-progress, Laurel Park Inn at 257 Soco Road was a turnkey operation when it was purchased in August, and everything was in excellent condition to begin with. Some upgrades will be made at a later date, however, said owner Sonal Upadhyaya.
“It feels like home,” Upadhyaya said. “It felt homey from the second we stepped on the property.”
Alongside husband Umesh and daughter Meera, Upadhyaya said she moved to Maggie Valley from Florida, with more than 30 years hospitality experience, and a family history in the industry.
The 18-room Laurel Park Inn is family-owned, with owners present on the property, providing guests all the attention they need, Upadhyaya said.
“It’s been great — business is good, weekends are busy,” Upadhyaya said. “We are open to all, everybody is welcome.”
Tanglewood Motel and Log Cabins
Some upgrades are due up during the winter season, but the Tanglewood Motel at 1595 Soco Road will run mostly as it has in the past under the new ownership of Dalia and Ash Dasquez, Dalia said.
Dasquez said she and her husband are from Atlanta, and they were on their way to Pigeon Forge looking for a business opportunity when they ended up re-routed to Maggie Valley, where they found the Tanglewood.
The grounds have a mountainous view with a creek trickling through the back, and the couple loved the combination of a motel and cabins, Dasquez said. There are 17 rooms and four cabins on the Tanglewood property, according to a listing provided by Mallette Real Estate Team.
Dasquez said the plan is to keep the property’s same atmosphere, and continue the tradition of hosting generations who enjoy the Tanglewood and Maggie Valley, time and time again.
The Castlewood Inn at 3695 Soco Road was purchased in December 2018 by Henry Patel, who was previously a hotel owner in Nashville’s hospitality scene, and comes from a family of hotel owners.
“I sold my other hotels in Nashville and then moved down here,” Patel said. “I was looking for a more laid-back, seasonal type of business, and this sort of fell in place.”
Cosmetic upgrades have been made, plus upgraded locks, new coffee machines and breakfast in the lobby area, Patel said.
“In the next two or three years we’re going to be doing a hard remodel,” Patel said.
In the year since taking ownership of the Castlewood, business has been good, Patel said.
“So far, so good,” Patel said. “It’s pretty much right on the dot of what we expected.”
Our Place Inn and RV Park
Although Cody and Kitty Currin have owned Our Place Inn at 4077 Soco Road since 2015, they have been closed for remodeling since 2018, Cody said.
“We have redone basically the whole property,” Currin said. “It was very band-aided before we got it.”
Renovations have focused on creating a more modern, energy-efficient inn, and Our Place should be back open for business sometime in the coming months, Currin said.
Breakfast is soon to be on the menu, as well as larger family rooms in some of the 12 motel rooms at Our Place Inn, and the RV park will now support year-round campers.
“We really pride ourselves in being family-friendly,” Currin said.
Across Haywood County, real estate sales rose 5.2 percent in August 2019 compared to August 2018, according to statistics provided by Thomas Mallette, Owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Heritage.
“There are currently 16 commercial properties on the market in Maggie Valley,” Mallette said in an email, “which is a mix of motels, other lodging, business buildings and land.”
According to statistics available through Canopy MLS, 121 homes were sold in Haywood between August 2018 and August 2019. Even better news is that pending contracts increased 28.1 percent year-over-year, showing buyer demand has not waned.
Prices softened in August, however, with both the median ($200,000) and average ($227,397) sales prices down 7.0 percent and 7.2 percent respectively, according to the MLS data.
Potential buyers need to act quickly, though. Homes are now on market for 50 days in August 2019 compared to 85 days a year ago.