But the ambitious duo saw possiblilites. Thousands of visitors come to Graham County each year to drive the “Tail of the Dragon,” a curvy 11-mile stretch of US 129 bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. The area is also surrounded by abundant hiking trails, rivers and cultural attractions.

Despite all that Graham County has to offer, without quality lodging, most visitors were leaving the area to spend the night elsewhere—robbing the community of coveted “heads in beds.” The Mortimers quickly recognized a small business opportunity, and set off on a journey to build unique lodging for area visitors. With a property surrounded by beautiful poplar and black walnut trees, treehouses seemed like the right option. 

Our Role

The Mortimers needed capital, but they also needed good advice. So, Natural Capital Investment Fund contracted with an experienced vacation cabin operator to help Laila and Doug learn the ropes of the hospitality business. We also connected the couple with a web designer to help them build the website they’d need to reach their specific clientele. 

Why This Project Matters

The Mortimers’ planning and attention to learning the fundamentals paid off. Now moving into its fourth season, River’s Edge Treehouse Resort has exceeded its occupancy targets and delights its guests – whether they come on foot, on the water, riding two wheels or four—with a quality and unique place to stay to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and contribute dollars to Graham County’s local economy.

Learn More

Visit the River's Edge Treehouse Resort website