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Our History

On the rocky edge of the river, we invite you to write the next chapter, to embark on the next great adventure, and to be part of the evolution of Appalachian hospitality. Embracing and sharing with guests the understanding and wisdom of multiple cultures, making it uniquely our own, defines Appalachia.
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Pioneers of Gatlinburg Hospitality

While no one is certain whether the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or the Rocky Waters Motor Inn came first, what we do know is that in 1934, when Calvin Coolidge signed the park into existence, he laid the foundation for protecting one of the most awe-inspiring, majestic, and biologically diverse natural settings in the country. All the while, the original owners, The Lawsons, illuminated the original vacancy sign at the Rocky Waters Motor Inn, pioneering hospitality in Gatlinburg, TN.

Paying homage to the trailblazers before us, we're introducing an unparalleled way of hosting our guests to curate your best experience in this mountain town.

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Past. Present. Future.

The hotel has only been owned by two families: The Lawsons and The Patels.

Both families have lived on the property during the formative years of their children's lives. Mrs. Lawson even gave birth to her son, Bud Lawson, who Bobby Patel would eventually buy the property from. His two boys, Mahavir and Dev, spent many summer days dreaming of the future and planning what the Rocky Waters Motor Inn would one day become.

As one father had originally passed it on to the next generation, history repeats itself. Now, after years in the dreaming and planning phase, the new Historic Rocky Waters Inn, A Small Luxury Hotel is ready to welcome back long-time friends and a new generation of modern travelers with discerning taste, a love for discovery, and a heart for the community.

  • 1934
    President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill to establish the Great Smoky Mountains as a national park 
  • 1935
    Rocky Waters Motor Inn opens
  • 1940

    Although established in 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formally dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt "for the permanent enjoyment of all the people."

  • 2021
    Rocky Waters Motor Inn begins head-to-toe renovations
  • 2024
    The Historic Rocky Waters Inn re-opens as a 4 star luxury hotel having joined the Small Luxury Hotel collection of independently minded hotels & resorts
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