Rockbridge announces the opening of the Marriott Knoxville Downtown, located at the iconic World’s Fair Park. The 302-room, full-service hotel has undergone an expansive renovation that touched nearly every aspect of the property. Also unveiling is the  Maker Exchange – a gathering space, artistic showcase and culinary scene designed to highlight and embrace Knoxville’s creative maker community. Rockbridge, also owners of the neighboring Tennessean Hotel, led the revitalization of this destination that was originally built for the 1982 World’s Fair.

Rockbridge purchased The Tennessean and the adjacent hotel with the vision of transforming the venue into a hub and gateway to Knoxville. The property was developed for this purpose for the 1982 World’s Fair, welcoming travelers from around the world.

“The hotel is ideally located at the center of World’s Fair Park, the Knoxville Convention Center, the University of Tennessee, and the downtown district,” said Jim Merkel, chief executive officer, Rockbridge. “We are proud to reinvent this destination for the community.”

Strategically poised in the heart of the destination is the Maker Exchange – a gathering hub for the community – encompassing a grand Hearth Room with an oversized fireplace, an independent restaurant and bar offering a gastro pub vibe with creative fare, craft cocktails, and neighborhood brews; a local, independent coffee shop, the Curio, and meeting and event space, all offering a unique destination dedicated to the makers of Knoxville.

“Our goal in this development was to bring the vibrancy of the World’s Fair history back to the neighborhood,” said Merkel. “Maker Exchange, positioned between the two hotels, provides a point of connection for Knoxville’s maker community, for locals who support them, and hotel guests who are drawn to the diverse flavor of the work on display.”

Hotel development company RBHD led the extensive hotel renovation with a world class team including local architect McCarty Holsaple McCarty, construction manager Blaine Construction, and New York-based interior design firm Stonehill Taylor collaborating to create a completely new destination, spotlighting local nuances and goods throughout. Guests are welcomed into the Great Room by a stunning woodgrain feature wall, referencing the careful hand of an artisan, while a double-sided fireplace with plush seating in the hotel lobby draws visitors further into the reception area. Each of the 302 guestrooms feature captivating views from large, floor-to-ceiling windows and all offer either single king or double king options for spacious accommodations. Furnishings contrast dark and light wood tones, and dark blue carpets feature motifs and textures reminiscent of glassmaking tools and patterns. Customized sconces and soft goods designed by local textile artists introduce subtle craft elements and create an inviting space throughout.

Rockbridge is working with Robin Easter Design to create and inspire the 12,000 square-foot Maker Exchange space and has engaged Knoxville’s Dogwood Arts Alliance to bring the concept to life and connect with the maker community.

Aimbridge Hospitality will operate the new hotel, alongside its sister property, The Tennessean Hotel.

For more information about the new Marriott Knoxville Downtown, visit online and on Instagram.

Rockbridge, a private investment firm with more than 22-years in business, has been investing in and building brands since 1999. The business has made over 280 real estate and hospitality investments in 38 states worth over $9.8 Billion in total capitalization and has over $2.7 Billion in assets under management. Rockbridge has built a family of hospitality, development, and management company brands, and its continued success is a result of its core Rocks: Relevance, Relationships, Resilience, and Responsibility. In 2020, Rockbridge was honored for a third consecutive year as a top, philanthropic company in Central Ohio.

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RB Hotel Development, RBHD, formed in 2011, is a development, design, and construction management company overseeing renovation and construction of over $923 Million in active hotel deal capitalization ($2 Billion since inception), representing over 4,000 keys consisting of 28 active projects. RBHD utilizes the team’s deep knowledge in programming, design, and development in hospitality, ranging from award-winning independent hotels to branded properties to identify and mitigate development and construction-related risks on complex hotel projects. It manages these projects from conception to completion. RBHD also possess development expertise in both hospitality and mixed-use projects.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of roughly 7,900 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 138 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy®, its highly-awarded travel program. For more information, please visit our website at, and for the latest company news, visit In addition, connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.