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The Swag: a Smoky Mountain resort

Back in the September the Jenni Earle crew took a trip to the Smoky Mountains to check out a beautiful resort destination called The Swag. The private mountaintop resort has been in operation for 38 years and is located a stone’s throw from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – one of North Carolina’s (and Tennesee’s) gems. You can rent a room in the Swag house or rent a luxury mountain cabin. Guests are treated to amenities such as a sauna, hiking trails, food and wine.


The Swag also sells our bandanas! We’re so happy that owners Annie and David decided to stock our bandanas. We drove out the mountains to take photos on the beautiful grounds of The Swag. I reached out to Annie to hear more about her story, why she chose to stock Jenni Earle bandanas and what mantra speaks most strongly to her.


photo credit Liz Nemeth


What’s the story that lead to owning the Swag?

My husband David and I purchased The Swag in early 2018 from Dan and Deener Matthews who built it and ran it as an inn since 1982. Dan and Deener are special people to my family and have known my parents and grandparents since long before I was born. I knew so much about The Swag from my family and from the Matthews, but we visited for the first time on our honeymoon in 2011. David and I fell in love with the resort and visited again as guests several times in the following years.

A few years back, David and I started looking for a business to buy and run together as a shared project. We were exploring opportunities in several different industries when my grandfather called David to said that he had just been with the Matthews and they were thinking of retiring. Owning The Swag, or anything resort like it, was beyond our wildest dreams, and we immediately called the Matthews to set up a meeting. After a long day of discussing and reminiscing, we left with a handshake agreement to buy The Swag.

I believe the only way to explain how it all worked out is that God’s hand was on the process; so many things had to come together in our lives and in the Matthews’ lives for us to be able to buy it when they were ready to sell. We feel incredibly grateful to be stewarding this property and making sure The Swag continues to be a special place for our guests for decades to come. 


‘Giddy up’ bandana in the garden at The Swag. Click to see in our store. Photo credit Liz Nemeth

How did you hear about Jenni Earle bandanas? 

I stumbled across Jenni Earle bandanas in Common Thread, a beautiful textile shop in Taos, New Mexico. I love a good bandana and was immediately drawn to the design. After I bought one I noticed that it was made in North Carolina. I immediately knew I wanted to sell them at The Swag. We love carrying local and regional handmade goods in our gift shop, and Jenni Earle’s bandanas fit so well with our mountain resort aesthetic. I love wearing them in my hair, and I always hike with an extra bandana in my backpack “just in case” … they have a hundred uses! Our guests love to buy them for themselves and as gifts, and they are a great item to buy when traveling because they don’t take up any room in the suitcase! 


Do you have a favorite bandana or phrase? 

My current favorite bandana is the limited edition ‘i’m still standing’ bandana. I love the color and the message. 

‘I’m still standing bandana’ Click to check out in our store

When have the words ‘I’m still standing’ helped you in your life? 

As a business owner and a mom of three young kids aged 5, 2, and 3 months, I often feel exhausted, inadequate, and overwhelmed. The baby was at work at The Swag with me when he was three weeks old, and there were plenty of days where I felt like I was dropping the ball at work and at home. In these months of feeling physically and emotionally exhausted, I love the reminder to celebrate that ‘i’m still standing’. It’s a reminder to be gentle with my expectations for myself and to be grateful to be in this wonderful, exhausting season of life. Every day we have a choice to stand up and move forward. We may not make the progress or do it as gracefully as we hoped, but I’m still grateful to be on my feet.

Photo credit Liz Nemeth


Tell me about the Swag! What is this beautiful place?

The Swag is uniquely placed for those who want to getaway, relax, and enjoy the outdoors. Our mountain resort is at 5,000 feet elevation and shares a fence with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Whether you are a serious hiker, and want to trek all day through the national park, or you just want to sit on the porch with a book and gaze at the North Carolina’s mountain, The Swag has something for every kind of nature lover. It is the perfect place to recharge and reconnect with your travel buddy or just with yourself. Deliciously crafted meals from our restaurant are included in your stay. We offer massages, group hikes, and special activities that change from week to week.

Many rooms have a fireplace, and our buildings are constructed from reclaimed logs and materials that harken back to a simpler time. I could go on and on about the things that make The Swag special. I hope you will come visit our mountain resort and experience the magic and peace of this place for yourself!

Photo credit Liz Nemeth


• • •

Annie has such gratitude and her interpretation of ‘I’m still standing’ rings so true to me. I am not gentle with myself when it comes to expectations. I am harsh and critical. Often my mistakes and faults are forefront in my mind, but what a wonderful thing it is to be proud to be still standing, rather than ashamed. Annie and David’s ability to work hard, and be easy on themselves when things are tough, is reflected in the beauty of their Smoky Mountain resort. You can build something and achieve your dreams. No matter what happens, remember, you’re still standing.


be brave
be adventurous


[feature photo credit Liz Nemeth]