Dolly Parton Gets A New 9 to 5 — In The Hotel Biz

Yahoo TravelMay 15, 2014

(Photo: Associated Press)

The reigning queen of country may have 25 No. 1 Billboard Country songs under her belt—plus two Academy Award nominations and business ventures like Dollywood, a wildly successful Smoky Mountain theme park—but her travel philosophy is as down-home as it gets. No surprise then she’s building a Tennessee home for all her fans, the DreamMore Resort, opening in summer 2015.

In honor of her new album, Blue Smoke (out this week), Yahoo Travel caught up with Parton to get the scoop on the property, and darn if she wasn’t kinder and sassier and full of more trademark giggle than you can imagine. She even gave us a peek inside her suitcase.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort (top) and its lavish lobby. (Courtesy: Dollywood Publicity)

The Inspiration: The 306-room DreamMore Resort was inspired by the warm bustle of Parton’s childhood, but with much more comfort (she grew up the fourth of 12 siblings in a one-room cabin in Locust Ridge, Tennessee). “We’ve used a lot in the decorating from my childhood, with rustic colors and then high glamour with fabrics and pictures,” says Parton. “The rooms are gonna be tailor made, from queen size with bunks to king-sized beds.”

It’s a Family Affair: Expect family-focused perks throughout: connecting rooms, swings, hammocks, and indoor and outdoor pools open year-round. “I’m really proud of the family suites, which will be great for reunions, with miles of rooms for kids and family,” Parton beams. Family time doesn’t have to exclude “me time.” You won’t want to miss DreamMore’s full-service spa and salon—the place to add Dolly-worthy glitz to your vacation look.

Family time on the front porch. (Courtesy: Dollywood Publicity)

The View Trumps All: One element of the hotel was an absolute must: the front porch. “It’ll have really big rocking chairs, so you can just sit and rock and dream and look at the beautiful Smokies,” says Parton, who credits the rolling mountains of Southern Appalachia as a major inspiration for her most beloved songs (In my Tennesse mountain home…). “Everywhere you look you’ll get a view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”

View from the DreamMore lobby. (Courtesy: Dollywood Publicity)

Dolly’s Packing Philosophy: You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to travel with. Parton, then, is anything but a diva. Laid-back relaxation is all she’s searching for during much-needed time off—and her packing shows it. “Everyone has their comfort thing, like a kid. I like a fleece blanket. I bring junk foods like potted meat, Vienna sausages, pickles, homemade things.”

Reading List: “I read everything from Religions of the World to whatever’s hot on the spot, The New York Times best-seller list,” says Parton.

Must-Have Accessory: When traveling, Parton always brings a certain kind of pillow. “I call it my granny pillow, because it’s just like the one my granny had. It’s full but soft.” Parton’s grandmother made her own feather pillows, from the chickens she raised.

Adventure In Your Backyard: “I used to own a home and a restaurant in Hawaii,” Parton says. “But now my husband and I travel a lot in our RV. We go to all these out-of-the-way areas in Tennessee.” Parton’s husband of nearly 50 years, Carl Dean, does the driving—and she dresses down, so she isn’t often recognized. They like to hit all the fast-food drive thrus and country fairs, and even camp by lakes.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Smaller Is Better: “Everyone wants to go to Memphis and Nashville for the music,” says Parton of her travels through Tennessee. “We find little places, like Rugby, which is not so far from Knoxville. It’s a great little town with lots of old history. We love little spots like that.”

Rock Out: Paula Froelich, Yahoo Travel’s Editor in Chief, shares her essential Dolly playlist:

Kathryn O’Shea-Evans is staff editor at This Old House and has written for Travel + Leisure, InStyle, and Lonny. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @ThePluckyOne.