Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the midst of the Smoky Mountains, offers a dizzying array of much to do. Margaritaville Island Hotel is at the center of family-friendly fun with enough to keep adults satisfied.
I arrived at Margaritaville at night to a promise of a good time as I steered my car over the bridge to the property. Neon in every direction, a 200-foot Ferris wheel, and a fountain of a dancing water light show are only part of the property’s bounty. This 134-room hotel is a destination that buzzes with shopping, dining and entertainment during the day and into the evening.
When I arrived after 10:30 pm on a Thursday night, much had quieted down. The reception desk check-in staff was friendly and ready to offer help if I needed anything. All I needed was my room key, directions on how to find my room, and help watching my belongings while I parked the car.
Parking here costs money if a valet parks the car. I opted to park myself. This involved driving to the free lot just one lot over from the valet option and walking back to the hotel. It’s not far. A few minutes walk at most.
At first, finding my room seemed a bit confusing since Margarvitaville Island Hotel seems to sprawl in different directions. Once one is clear if one has a river view, a village view, or a fountain view, the layout makes sense. My standard king room had a village view. My balcony overlooked Market Street, a shopping pleasure full of specialty shops. Across the way, I could see hotel rooms facing my direction with the street between us.
The river views overlook the Little Pigeon River. By morning, every view was hopping with people of all ages out and about. Margaritaville Island Hotel and Pigeon Forge were wide awake.
Although my king room was one of the standard rooms, it seemed anything but. There’s much the Margaritaville Island Hotel offers to make a stay feel special. The decor has an ocean breezy feel with a touch of an upscale mountain cabin tossed in. The stacked stone fireplace is a central feature, as is the granite counter wet bar with a microwave, small refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker, and a margarita maker. The 40-inch flat-screen TV was positioned so one could watch from the bed or the oversize chair.
The bathroom was as aesthetically pleasing as the rest of the room. The large walk-in shower with its dual rain shower nozzles had a wood and stone look. The vessel sink, lighted mirror, and vanity were also sharp. Towels were plush and the amenities from the hotel’s St. Somewhere Spa are splendid. The parrot painting was a nod to Jimmy Buffet and his Margaritaville motif.
My side of this Pigeon Forge hotel was closest to the pool, a wonderful rooftop space with the Smoky Mountain Wheel as a magnificent backdrop. At night, this was a splendid place to hang out. During the day, it’s lovely as well with adults and kids sharing space. Toss in a margarita from the poolside bar for some extra pleasure.
The large workout room is near the pool as well.
Along with the pool area, other hotel visiting spots are the lobby and Changes in Latitude Lobby Bar. Margaritaville’s dining options include the Margaritaville Restaurant with a mix of burgers, Louisiana inspired and Mexican dishes, and the Margaritaville Coffee Shop. I grabbed a breakfast sandwich here after checkout.
I did not have the chance to try the St. Somewhere Spa where everything from various massage styles to hair cuts are possible, but I did take a ride on that huge Ferris wheel. The views from the top are spectacular.
Many guests seemed to enjoy the view from the rocking chairs surrounding the dancing fountain.
At checkout, the reception staffers were happy to watch my belongings while I got my car, and the valets let me leave my car for a few moments while I ran into Smoky Mountain Moonshine for a quick tasting and purchases.
Not so long ago, Pigeon Forge hotels weren’t much to write home about, but Margaritaville Island Hotel has raised the bar considerably. Room rates start at $256. You can book your stay through Hotels.com, however, Fountain View guestrooms can only be booked through the the hotel’s own reservation site.
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein, whose stay was hosted by the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism as part of the Midwest Travel Journalists’ meeting.