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Creating Smoky Mountain Memories worth Sharing and Repeating

Mark and Sharon Oldham
Mark and Sharon Oldham

Mark and Sharon Oldham founded Oldham Hospitality in 2014. They met at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, from where they both graduated and married soon after in 1984. They lived, worked, and raised a family in Nashville, TN after moving there in 1988. Mark is a native Nashvillian, and Sharon hails from Dublin, VA.

Before Oldham Hospitality, Mark and Sharon founded U.S. Hospitality Corp (USHC) in 1986 along with Howard Mosley. From 1986-2008, Mark was CEO and President of USHC and grew this company to be the largest publisher of advertising based in-room Guest Directories in the USA. USHC was named to the INC 500 in 1992 (#215), and eventually served over 2000 hotels, including all major hotel chains in the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean with distinction. Sharon left USHC in 1992 to become a full-time homemaker.

Mark pivoted in 2005 from the printed in-room Guest Directory world to the hotel lobby world—via desktop Business Centers and Boarding Pass Stations. This was achieved through an investment in Uniguest Inc. Uniguest then exploded in growth as Mark’s contacts in the hotel industry were leveraged successfully along with partner Shawn Thomas’ original concept. As the printed world started to slow, the Business Center business took off. Eventually, Uniguest shipped software and products worldwide to 12,000 hotels representing over 27,000 devices in 22 countries. This exponential growth overtook USHC to the point where the 2 companies combined in 2009. Uniguest was named to the INC 500 (#415) again in 2010, Mark’s second company to achieve that status.

In 2013, Uniguest was sold to Private Equity firm Atlantic Street Capital of Stamford, Connecticut and Mark left the company at that time to pursue other interests. Concurrently, Mark and Sharon developed an interest in the boutique hotel business and the farm to table restaurant business while Sharon developed an interest in vegetable gardening at their Gentleman’s Farm in Nashville. Sharon became very successful at raising squash blossoms, which became a signature item at their first restaurant, TerraMae, in Chattanooga.

From 2011-2015, while still living in Nashville, Mark and Sharon owned the StoneFort Inn and TerraMae Appalachian Bistro, a unique historic 16-room Inn in coveted downtown Chattanooga, TN. They renovated the Inn with designers Cris and Dave Angsten, along with David Mitchell. This was truly their first effort at owning and operating a full-service Inn, which was too large to be a Bed and Breakfast but too small to be a franchised hotel. Somewhere in between seems to be their sweet spot! After 4 years, it became apparent they were onto something with the Appalachian Bistro; and having fulfilled their obligations as parents to school-age kids, and after selling Uniguest, they began to think about starting new hospitality careers in their mid-50s!

So after selling Uniguest in 2013 and after taking a 6 month hiatus from business, which included an epic bicycle trip to New Zealand, Sharon and Mark sold the StoneFort Inn and acquired what has become their Flagship property, Dancing Bear Lodge and Appalachian Bistro. Soon thereafter, they purchased Apple Valley Mountain Village. Particularly for Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro, numerous accolades began appearing, and in 2019, Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro was named by Trip Advisor as One of America’s top 25 Most Romantic Restaurants.

Successful in it’s own right, Apple Valley Mountain Village is a popular tourist destination for visitors going into and out of the Cades Cove entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. All of the following businesses are owned and operated by Oldham Hospitality: