MAGGIE VALLEY — Retro renovations at Route 19 Inn are complete, and the mid-century mountain motor lodge opened for business this week on the west side of the valley.
The former Rocky Waters Motel underwent a facelift after selling to new owners in 2018. Following 18 months of renovation, and despite a later-than-planned opening due to the coronavirus, the retro road trip destination is ready for guests, said Matt Ferguson, who oversaw vision and concept design for the reimagined inn.
“We’re going to take you back in time, but with all the modern amenities,” Ferguson said. “It’s all about the idea of a retro road trip.”
The 1948-built property had good bones for theming to a nostalgic 1950s roadside inn, Ferguson said.
“If you look back in the history of the early days of road trips, you had all these national park projects going on, and that’s when Great Smoky National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway really became popular,” Ferguson said. “U.S. 19 was the way to get to that park, so we branded it around that.”
Passersby on their way to the Blue Ridge Parkway have likely noticed the Route 19 Inn sign illuminated in neon along Jonathan Creek at 4898 Soco Road. The property’s grassy courtyard sports a large teepee, an original carousel horse from nearby Ghost Town in the Sky, a ‘50s-era car and a towering totem pole carved by Maggie Valley chainsaw artist Mountain Mike.
“There was a really solid structure here — concrete, it’s built like a tank — but a lot of the infrastructure needed to be redone,” Ferguson said. “A lot of the electrical work and HVAC is all brand new, fresh and redone, all the plumbing. The things you don’t see.”
Despite the inn facilities’ guts being refurbished, interior renovations in the 32 guest rooms were made with a mind to maintain the buildings’ throwback charm.
“We kept all the bathrooms intact, because they had all this retro tile work,” Ferguson said. “We had to repair some of it, but it was generally in pretty good shape.”
With creekside rooms, a swimming pool and décor designed for social media-friendly photo opportunities, Ferguson said he hopes people enjoy the property as much as the Route 19 Inn staff.
“We saw this property and we just fell in love with it,” Ferguson said. “It’s the only place here where Fie Creek meets Jonathan Creek.”
Ferguson and family, who have long visited Maggie Valley, partnered with local families to oversee Route 19 Inn’s operation, and look forward to contributing to the valley’s hospitality and tourism community.
“We really think it’s going to be a magnet for Maggie Valley and Haywood County,” Ferguson said. “We’re hoping this helps everybody out, all of our neighbors in the tourism community here.”