Gaylord Opryland Resort &
Convention Center, formerly known as Opryland
Hotel, is a large hotel and convention center located in Nashville,
Tennessee and owned by Gaylord
Hotels, a division of Gaylord Entertainment
It is the largest non-casino hotel in the world
and the largest hotel in the United States outside Las Vegas.
property, given a general theme toward "Southern hospitality", opened as
The Opryland Hotel in 1977 adjacent to the
theme park and the
Opry house, from which the hotel took its name.
The hotel originally featured 600 guest rooms, a 20,000 square foot
(2000 m²) ballroom
, and 30,000 square feet
(3,000 m²) of convention space. Originally built by the National Life &
Accident Insurance Company, Opryland Hotel was sold to
City-based Gaylord Broadcasting Company (which soon
after changed its name to Gaylord Entertainment Company)
in 1982, along with most of National Life's entertainment
properties, including WSM
USA, and the Grand Ole Opry.
The Garden Conservatory atrium, the
first of Opryland's large atriums
In 1983, six years after opening, Opryland Hotel completed its
first major expansion, dubbed "Phase II". This large undertaking
added 467 guest rooms, moving the total to 1,067. Phase II also
brought 30,000 square feet (3,000 m²) more of ballroom space, and
added the hotel's first signature atrium
, the Garden Conservatory. Under
large panes of glass and filled with plant life and fountains, the
Garden Conservatory is designed to allow guests to experience a
walk in a tropical garden without going outdoors. Hundreds of rooms
have balconies overlooking the Conservatory. This was the first
truly unique thing the hotel had to offer, and it set the stage for
the next two expansions.
By 1988, Opryland Hotel had expanded to 1,891 guest rooms. In the
"Phase III" expansion, another 18,000 square foot (1,700 m²)
ballroom was added along with the Cascades, a second atrium
designed to complement the Garden Conservatory. The Cascades is
covered by an acre
of glass, and features
thousands of plant species and large artificial waterfalls
. As part of Phase III, but delayed by
one year, another 4,000 square foot (400 m²) ballroom opened,
designed for more intimate settings and smaller functions.
Separate from the Phase III expansion was the addition of an 18
hole golf course
, "Springhouse Golf
Club", located east of the hotel. The par-72 links-style course was
home to the BellSouth Senior Classic at
on the Champions Tour
from 1994 to 2003. It was renamed "Springhouse Links" in 2001, and
then "Gaylord Springs" in 2006.
Opryland Hotel completed its "Phase IV" expansion in 1996.
$175-million "Delta" added 922 guest rooms, bringing the total to
its current 2,881, and was the largest construction project in the
history of Nashville at the time (it was eclipsed in 1999 by
Adelphia Coliseum, now known as LP Field).
Also part of the expansion, which more than doubled the size of the
existing structure, was an additional 55,465 square foot (5,150 m²)
ballroom, a 289,000 square foot (27,000 m²) exhibit hall, and the
Delta Atrium. The 150 foot (46 m) tall, 4.5 acre (18,000
m²) atrium was given a Cajun theme, borrowing
many elements from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Also under the large glass roof is the
Delta River, a 0.25 mile (400 m) artificial waterway. For a $9 fee,
guests may ride in a "Delta Flatboat" through a guided tour of the
atrium. When it was christened
water samples from more than 1,700 rivers throughout the world
, including every registered river in the United
States, were poured into the Delta River.
The Delta expansion
solidified the trend
that Gaylord was focusing more efforts on its hotel division than
its theme park, as the massive undertaking swallowed up any and all
land the theme park could have expanded upon. Indeed, following the
1997 season, the Opryland
USA theme park ceased operations and was
demolished. Simultaneously, Gaylord Entertainment
announced a joint venture with the
Mills Corporation for construction
of the 1.2 million square foot (110,000 m²) Opry Mills shopping mall on the
The park closure hurt occupancy rates at Opryland
Hotel for the next five years. Gaylord Entertainment later divested
its share of the mall and now leases the property and the "Opry"
name to Simon Properties
successor to Mills Corporation.
After the theme park closed, Gaylord considered taking the
"Opryland" name off the hotel, since "Opryland" (a name which was
considered to be most synonymous with the theme park) no longer
existed. Extensive market research
showed that the hotel would have to rebuild its reputation
without the "Opryland" name, so it was
In the late 1990s, Gaylord Entertainment acquired the Ramada
Inn on McGavock Pike, just across the street
from Opryland Hotel. It was given a major renovation and dropped
its Ramada affiliation to be known simply as "The Inn at Opryland".
It is now affiliated with Radisson
. This motel
is marketed toward
guests wishing to receive Opryland Hotel quality and amenities at
the new Gaylord subsidiary "Opryland Lodging Group", which was
formed in 1997 to plan expansions, was renamed "Opryland Hotels" as
it began to see its plans for sister properties in Kissimmee,
Florida and Grapevine, Texas come to fruition. Another hotel was
later announced for Prince George's County,
As a result of these new plans, the hotel
was renamed Opryland Hotel Nashville
designation as the company's flagship
property. The other hotels in the chain were to be named "Opryland
Hotel Florida", "Opryland Hotel Texas" and "Opryland Hotel
The waterfalls of the Cascades
On October 26, 2001, Opryland Hotel Nashville was rebranded as
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
(or Gaylord Opryland
, for short), taking its name
from its corporate parent. Gaylord Entertainment made the change
seeking to take the "Opryland" name off of the new property in
Florida. The Opryland Hotels division was renamed
"Gaylord Hotels", and the Florida
property was given the name "Gaylord Palms."
The Texas hotel was initially going to be
called "Gaylord Opryland Texas", but was later changed to "Gaylord Texan
", after more market research
concluded it needed an identity of its own. The yet-to-be-opened
Maryland property was renamed "Gaylord
." Company officials at the time stated that the
"Opryland" branding was strong to Nashville (and Texas, initially),
but didn't fit with projects in other parts of the United States.
Despite the rebranding effort, most
locals (including the broadcast media) still refer to Gaylord
Opryland as "Opryland Hotel."
In lieu of another expansion and as a result of the rebranding, the
hotel underwent a $5 million renovation in 2003. With it came a
refurbishment and rebranding of several of the hotel's restaurants
and pubs, new retail establishments, and building improvements.
Plans were also announced to renovate and refurnish all of the
hotel's 2,881 guest rooms over the next few years.
According to a 2003 press release, Gaylord Opryland planned to
build a 5,000-seat amphitheatre
site in the near future, but those plans seem to have been
abandoned in favor of a convention center expansion. 
On February 12, 2007, Gaylord Hotels announced plans to expand
Gaylord Opryland once again, this time focusing on the Convention
Center. The $400 million expansion will nearly double the size of
the existing Convention Center and add a 400-room, stand-alone,
all-suite hotel. A large parking garage would also be added to the
expansion will be built on the south side of the existing
structure, pushing the building more toward Opry Mills.
The plans hinge on $80 million in public financing through the
that would be repaid through the property taxes
generated by the expansion. The first step in this process would be
getting the Tennessee General
to designate the site a "special tourism development
expansion would also make Gaylord Opryland the largest convention
hotel outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
It is expected to be completed by 2010.
Unlike its sister properties, Gaylord Opryland has no universal
structure layout as a result of its continued expansion. Because of
this, the property can be very confusing to navigate, even for
frequent visitors. Employees are even said to get lost in the hotel
from time to time.
- Magnolia - The original lobby and retail area
of the hotel. Currently features "The District" and Grand
Staircase, modeled after the Tara
from Gone With the
- Garden Conservatory - The first atrium
constructed, considered by many to be the heart of the hotel.
Several weddings take place in the Garden Conservatory's romantic
setting each year, near the Lionhead Fountain and Crystal
- Cascades - The second atrium constructed.
Features the rotating Cascades Terrace Lounge as well as Wasabe (a
Japanese sushi restaurant) and the hotel's largest waterfalls.
Connects to the main lobby, which is where the main, and only,
registration desk is located.
- Delta - The third and largest atrium
constructed. Currently the center of activity at Gaylord Opryland.
Home to the Delta River, several retail stores, a few eateries, and
Gaylord Opryland's finest restaurant, the Old Hickory Steakhouse.
of the hotel also features a connection to Opry Mills
Shopping Mall. The Delta project was the main inspiration
for the company's expansion into other markets.
- Convention Center - The
largest convention area in Tennessee with three main exhibit areas and five
The Convention Center at Gaylord Opryland is in direct competition
with the Metro government-owned Nashville Convention Center
Gaylord Opryland is built to handle large conventions, while the
NCC is suited more for smaller gatherings. Nashville is currently
considering plans to expand or replace the existing public
convention center, claiming they are unable to attract major
conventions due to the center's relatively small size. In contrast,
Gaylord Opryland has expanded its convention center twice since NCC
opened in downtown Nashville in 1987 and regularly attracts major
conventions to the city.
Gaylord Opryland currently features three exhibit halls and five
ballrooms. Coupled with its massive hotel, Gaylord Opryland
Convention Center can easily accommodate upwards of 10-12 separate
gatherings at one time. On most weekends, guests will find at least
two conventions taking place.
convention center is divided into five areas: the Magnolia, Tennessee, Presidents, Governors, and Delta sections; each of
which specializes in terms of rooms' size, and purposes.
There are currently three levels in the convention center to
accommodate the variation in height among the different ballrooms
and exhibit halls.
The hotel currently boasts 109,465 square feet (10,170 m²) of
ballroom space and 319,000 square feet (30,000 m²) of exhibit
space. A planned expansion (see
) will nearly double its size.
While Gaylord Opryland caters largely to the out-of-town convention
market, it serves a large purpose for the local community as well.
Many local high schools use the ballroom space for their yearly
. It is also known for being one of
Nashville's hottest "first-date" spots because of its central
location, restaurants, walkways, and scenery. Many local companies
also take advantage of the Convention Center's abundant meeting
space. Unlike most other non-casino hotels, a sizable portion of
Gaylord Opryland's visitors are not actually guests of the hotel.
The scenery of the various atria along with the various shops and
dining options attract many walk-in visitors to the hotel every
vendor Town Parke currently charges $18 to park automobiles at the hotel (the hotel does not own
the parking lot), but locals have found a way around this charge by
parking at nearby Opry
Mills free of charge and walking the short path to
This is not recommended for overnight
stays, both for lack of security, and the risk of being towed.
service is also
available to hotel guests for $25 a night.
A Country Christmas
During the months of November, December, and through mid-January of
each year, Gaylord Opryland attracts thousands of visitors to see
the large display of Christmas
decorations, dubbed A Country Christmas
. Millions of
decorative lights are placed in the trees at the resort, and all
three atria contain various decorations, including animatronics
. The hotel begins installing
lights in July of each year. In addition, several special
holiday-themed shows and attractions take place, including ICE!
, a display of ice sculptures, and the
Radio City Rockettes
Spectacular. During the Christmas seasons of 2007 and 2008, ICE!
has had a theme of Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole
though the season of 2009 is expected to have a
different theme. 2009's theme will be Charlie Brown. 2008 marks the
25th anniversary of Gaylord Opryland's A Country
- Anticipated for the 2008 Season:
- Louise Mandrell's Christmas
Dinner and Show
- Photos with Santa Claus
- The Winterwonderland Area
- Children's Toy Train Ride, new for 2008 season
- Treasures for the Holidays Craft Show,
featuring a variety of unique handicrafts from USA, England, and
- The Hall of Trees, a display of specially decorated trees with
prizes that benefits various charities both local and national
- Gingerbread Corner, where children can create gingerbread
houses and men
- Email with Santa Claus
- Brightest Star Fountain Show in the Delta Atrium
- Horse-drawn carriage rides around the 52 acre property
- Nativity Scene
- Breakfast with the Grinch at Ristorante Volare
- A Rockabilly Christmas musical performance in the Cascades
Radio City Rockettes at the
- Nash Vegas! Holiday Show on the General Jackson Showboat
- ICE! featuring the Grinch
- The fully restored Delta Atrium Christmas Tree (an absent
attraction from the 2007 season due to the renovation)
- A Country Christmas Gift Shoppe
- 2,881 guest rooms, including:
- 200+ suites
- 750+ atrium-facing rooms with private balconies, patios, or
large bay windows which overhang into
- 109,465 square feet (10,170 m²) of ballroom space
- 319,000 square feet (30,000 m²) of exhibit space
- 6 full-service restaurants which include Ristorante Volare, The
Old Hickory Steakhouse, Cascades Seafood Restaurant, Rusty's Sports
Bar, Water's Edge Marketplace, and Findley's Irish Pub.
lounges which The Cascades Terrace Lounge, The Jack Daniel's Saloon, and The Library at Old Hickory
- 8 eateries which include STAX Hamburgers, Paisano's Pizza,
Häagen-Dazs, Christie Cookies,
Conservatory Café, Wasabi's Sushi, Java Coast Coffee, and Godiva Chocolatier.
- 14 retail stores including Amelia's, Savannah's and Miss
Scarlet's, the three of which are women's fashions stores,
Alexzander Kalifano's, a jewelry shop, the Cascades, Magnolia, and
Delta Necessities Stores, Cowboys and Angels, Delta Gifts and
Decor, Bushels and Baskets, The Opry Shop, Bookmark, Sunny G
Children's Boutique, and the Gaylord Golf Springs Shop.
- FUSE Nightclub which specializes in an
assortment of gourmet food and cocktails, including the signature
"Cotton Candy Martini".
- Relâche Spa and Salon which offers a variety of massages and upscale services featuring a
full-service salon, sauna, shopping boutique, as well as a fitness center
which is open 24 hours. Relâche also houses the hotel's indoor pool
and one of the outdoor pools.
- The Arcade which features many games and prizes.
Related Gaylord-owned properties in Nashville