Cataloochee Ranch, with its “Hospitality a Mile High” theme, is known for its rustic ranch style, mountain views, hiking, horseback riding, outdoor barbecues, and lively music events. Its history is long and rooted in mountain tradition.
The ranch is a beloved gem in Haywood County’s Maggie Valley.
When Cataloochee Ranch Resort, LLC purchased the property on March 30, 2020, the new owners said they intended to “preserve and enhance” the mountain retreat.
“The Cataloochee Ranch is a wonderful vacation destination,” said co-owner David Colquitt. “We want to improve the experience, so that it can realize its full potential – appreciated by locals and visitors.”
VisionThe ranch was to be closed for six to nine months, for major renovations and upgrades. Then the pandemic hit and things stopped.
Since the renovations resumed, David and Annie Colquitt felt it was time to let the neighbors know about the plans for the deep renovation.
The Colquitts, who also own The Swag in Waynesville, held a neighborly briefing on the ranch plans on July 3 for more than 50 people living in the adjacent and surrounding Cataloochee Ranch area.
Colquitt said the briefing went well and the neighbors seemed excited to hear about the ranch’s plans.
David Colquitt said the first vision for the iconic ranch property is the preservation of the land.
“We have a vested interest in ensuring that the environment in the region is preserved,” he said. “We want to make sure the Hemphill Bald hike continues and that no property on the ranch is disturbing the flow of the mountain hike.”
The special nature of Cataloochee Ranch is at the forefront in the minds of the owners.
“There is no place like this,” said David Colquitt. “And the vision for the property has grown over the past year.”
Connecting the inside of the ranch with the outside is a guiding principle.
The property maintains the stone and wood character of the ranch, while adding a few modern touches to let in the light. New steel and glass doors will offer sight lines over the mountainous landscape.
The interior of the main ranch house was demolished, while retaining the masonry. The roof is raised to install steel and glass windows to let light into the large room, but the rounded wooden style is retained.
The old kitchen will become the entrance and reception area; the old reception will become a bar. A brand new kitchen and outdoor cooking area will be added to the ranch.
The old large fireplace in the great room will become a double-sided fireplace, to make it pleasant in the new outdoor terraces, which will wrap around the ranch house. Some terraces will be covered so that guests can dine outside, even in bad weather.
The new terraces will generate space for alfresco dining and sunset viewing.
“The redesign of the ranch house aims to preserve historic elements, like the stone walls, while maximizing views and natural light by adding windows,” said Annie Colquitt. “Guests come to the ranch to enjoy the outdoors, so we create additional outdoor decks and porches. “
Renovations are underway for two of the cabins – Willow and Pond. Later this summer, attention will turn to the ranch. The interior design can be described as “rustic chic”.
“The interior design will reflect the style of the mountains of western North Carolina and the treasured history of Cataloochee Ranch, with a fresh and modern design element,” said Annie.
Eventually all cabins will receive a refresh and the Silverbell Lodge will be renovated, with new porches and decks.
The plan is to reopen Cataloochee Ranch as a year round destination. Given the significant renovations, David Colquitt said the reopening will take place in Q4 2022 or Q1 2023.
Among the facilities at the Cataloochee Ranch, the emphasis is on catering. Local meals will be encouraged as an important part of the ranch experience.
“We hope to have a strong and robust contingent without accommodation for meals,” said David Colquitt. “We want a lot of people to dine there. Diners will have the opportunity to dine al fresco, while watching the sunset.
One of the last renovations will be the existing barn. The ground floor will be maintained as a working stable for horseback riding at the ranch, but the upper hayloft and surrounding area will be converted into an event center.
“People are drawn to barns in general,” he said. “We will maintain the existing exposed architecture and the ranch feeling of the barn, while adding steel and glass windows upstairs for great views and light in.”
A new catering kitchen and bathrooms will be added upstairs, and the lawn will be on the terrace for events. A small amphitheater will be added to improve the barn’s event capabilities.
“The hayloft will become a great event space,” said David.
The new Cataloochee Ranch Resort, LLC is a separate entity from The Swag in Waynesville.
“Cataloochee Ranch and The Swag will be branded independently,” said David Colquitt.
He contrasts the two properties, claiming that the two are “more like cousins than brother and sister.”
“The Swag is an upscale property and is more of a couples’ getaway than the ranch,” said David. “The Cataloochee Ranch serves a larger clientele and is multigenerational. The goal is to elevate the ranch’s facilities and, with ease of parking and good access, attract more weddings, corporate retreats, groups and local restaurants.
The ranch renovations are being done by Summerour Architects of Atlanta and Schick Construction, Maggie Valley.
To keep up to date with renovations and closure, visit www.cataloocheeranch.com. Cataloochee Ranch is located at 119 Ranch Dr., Maggie Valley.
Cataloochee Ranch was founded by “Mr. Tom” and “Miss Judy” Alexander in 1933 and was originally located in the Cataloochee Valley.
In 1938, Mr. Tom purchased much of the current ownership of the ranch on Fie Top Mountain from Verlin Campbell, the “Potato King” of Haywood County. There was a solid stone and log barn, now the main ranch house, and several cabins and sheds.
The 5,000-foot elevation of the property bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has created the ideal combination of extraordinary mountain views and cool summer temperatures.
Members of the Alexander family added more cabins and managed Cataloochee Ranch from its founding until March 30, 2020, when the ranch was purchased by Cataloochee Ranch Resort, LLC. The ranch immediately closed to visitors for the planned renovation.
Horseback riding from the ranch barn continued and hiking is permitted. To book a horseback ride, call 828-926-1401 or email [email protected]
The sale of Cataloochee Ranch did not include the Cataloochee ski area, which is independently owned.