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PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Three tribes have partnered with DreamCatcher Hotels LLC to develop a high-end hotel in eastern Tennessee. 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have invested in the new hotel’s development and will receive a return on the hotel’s revenues.

In an announcement of the partnership, Seminole Chairman Marcellus Osecola said the “historic development” in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. was a natural fit for the tribe, given its years of experience in the hotel industry via its ownership of the Hard Rock International brand. Osceola said the project also will help “secure the economic future of our Tribal Members and drive economic prosperity for many years to come.” 

“The Seminole Tribe has deep experience in owning and operating hotels, and we are very familiar with Pigeon Forge, a market that attracts millions of vacationers, conventions, weddings and athletic tournaments each year,” Osceola said in a statement.

Pigeon Forge is located in the Smoky Mountains, about one hour’s drive east from Knoxville. The town is the home of a number of tourist attractions, including country singer Dolly Parton’s theme parks Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country. The town attracts roughly 11 million visitors per year, according to Pigeon Forge’s tourism board. 

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The DreamCatcher Hotel property will include 200 guest rooms, a rooftop restaurant and lounge, and 12,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. The developer plans to open the property in summer 2023, according to a statement.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Chief Cyrus Ben noted that the investment marked a step toward tribal self-determination, providing the tribe with another revenue stream in its diversified portfolio. 

“Although this is not an investment here on our tribal lands, it is an opportunity for us, along with the other tribes, to diversify our business portfolio,” Ben said in a statement. “With this capital investment, our goal is to generate revenue to benefit the tribe as a whole. As our Tribe grows, so should our business interests.”

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed highlighted the ability to partner with fellow tribes to invest in the property.

“It is our hope that this will be but one of many economic development projects our tribes can partner on, helping to secure the financial future of our tribes,” Sneed said. “We are grateful for the opportunity as well as the partnership with DreamCatcher as the project developer.”

Memphis-based developer DreamCatcher Hotels LLC launched in 2011 to offer turnkey hotel design and construction services to tribes and other clients. The company, which reportedly has contracts to build 2,000 rooms across the country, has worked with Stillaguamish Tribe on the Angel of the Winds Casino and Hotel in Arlington, Wash. and with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana on the development of Seven Clans Hotel in Kinder, La., according to its website.

Unlike the prior projects, the Pigeon Forge hotel will retain DreamCatcher branding. The move is part of a new effort for the company to franchise DreamCatcher Hotels in “choice tourism locales.”

“Our tribal partners share our bold vision of developing and investing in unique and innovative hospitality properties, located in areas we know people want to visit,” DreamCatcher Franchise Development President Zeke Cooper said in a statement. “We are excited and humbled by their investment and trust. Our goal is to create significant returns for each tribe’s members.”

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