Dancing Bear exterior

Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend has announced the launch of an online campaign — #RoadLessTraveled — designed to bring tourism back to Townsend and especially to the lodge and adjacent Appalachian Bistro, as well as the Apple Valley Mountain Village.

Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro are taking 2020 promotions online as Townsend businesses try to attract visitors during a pandemic.

The lodge and bistro, owned and operated by Mark and Sharon Oldham launched the #RoadLess Traveled campaign in late spring, a nod to the reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on May 9.

The business wants to promote the idea that, regardless of the circumstances, people want to resume travel and take advantage of natural resources and destinations with small crowds.

The #RoadLessTraveled campaign aims to educate and assuage the possible hesitancy of potential travelers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oldham explained. The campaign highlights efforts made to embrace social distancing and to limit the risks associated with traveling to low-density resorts.

“We anticipate that folks are taking a fresh new look at how and where they spend their downtime, and optimal health considerations are at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” Oldham said. “Additionally, people are now looking to vacation more by car and to stay closer to home.”

Nestled in what Oldham termed the “base camp” of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dancing Bear Lodge boasts individual accommodations where the guests can drive to the door and avoid crowded lobbies and elevators.

With the virtual check-in, 2 miles of nature trails and complimentary bicycles to use on the Townsend bike path, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and to enjoy nature in wide-open spaces, Oldham said.

“It’s easy to come here and to have little if any human contact,” resort Director of Operations Christi Silliman said.

The #RoadLessTrav eled campaign also will emphasize the Apple Valley Mountain Village, which is adjacent to the Dancing Bear Lodge. The village features Apple Valley Cafe, the Dancing Bean Coffee House, the General Store and the Mountain Store, which sells several top outdoor brands.

“It’s long been known that nature reduces stress levels and instills a sense of calm,” Oldham said. “We’re all adjusting to the new normal and we are in no way downplaying the epidemic. We simply want everyone to know that we are open for business and have deployed extensive resources to follow the recommended CDC guidelines. We’re here to welcome you to a place of solitude on a road less traveled.”

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

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