Luxury hotel raises the bar for hospitality in the Smokies

If heading east for the weekend usually either includes a rustic cabin in the mountains or a UT game and chain hotel downtown, there is another option, a luxurious homage to East Tennessee.

Situated near the banks of the Tennessee river, THE TENNESSEAN Hotel is the first AAA Four Diamond hotel in the area, has 82 guest rooms and provides amenities such as tailored concierge services, a staff that collectively speaks nine different languages and an on-site Sommelier Level 2 available to guests.

It is also home to the Governor’s Suite, a 1,600-square-ft space with a baby grand piano, dining room, butler’s pantry and nearly 360-degree views of the city, as well as 12 permanent luxury residences on the top floor overlooking the Knoxville skyline.

Nick Cazana, Inn Keeper of the hotel, is from Knoxville, and says one of the things they wanted to do is give Knoxvillians something that they had not seen before – and a place they will want to keep coming back to, with the familiarity one might find on an old episode of “Cheers.” Basically, the staff may not know you the first time, but they will the second time.

And the hope is Knoxvillians will embrace it as much as visitors.

“We have a lot of very nice hotels like most cities do, but this was the first time that Knoxville had an opportunity to really show off,” he says. “Our goal was, ‘if you’re going to stay at a hotel in Knoxville, you’re going to stay at THE TENNESSEAN’.

The building was previously a state office building that was built for the 1892 World’s Fair, with windows 42 inches off the floor- basically, if you sat in a chair you couldn’t see out the window. Those were extended to just 12 inches off the floor in the remodel, while the double corridors and column spacing allowed for rooms that are 500 square feet vs. the average 300 square feet.

The Tennessee river runs straight through Knoxville and inspired much of the design when the architects on the project were at a cocktail party Cazana’s home. They saw the river and wanted to incorporate it into the project. So custom made carpets throughout the lobby and the corridors all depict a river scene, while navigation maps of the Tennessee river hang six feet by six feet above the headboards.

“The carpets emulate the waves in the water and then we have a nightstand that has the reeds from a river bed,” he says. “It just looks terrific.”

The large bathrooms have barn doors which allow more room, and there is an enclosed water closet plus tons of counter space.

Artwork was found locally, state wide and throughout the region with the help if McCarty Holsaple McCarty in Knoxville and Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, Inc. out of Atlanta. The furniture was designed in house and was built by Hackney Furniture in Sneedville, Tennessee.

“There’s many fine hotels throughout the state and the southeast but we wanted something in that, when you walked in, it blew your socks off,” Cazana says.

Mission accomplished.