Summer fun close to home
Gaylord Opryland Resort offers plenty to do
By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Your trip to Nashville from Madison County will begin by travelling north on I-65 straight to Music City, USA – only 100 miles away in Tennessee.
Once you are in Nashville, a few simple exits from the interstate on Briley Parkway will take you straight to one of the largest hotel and convention center complexes in the country – the new Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center Nashville, formerly known as the Opryland Hotel.
Celebrating 25 years as one of the country's premiere hotel and convention center locations, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center has recently completed an $80 million enhancement and improvement project to its 2,880 guestrooms and throughout the complex. Noting the true flavor of the South, the resort and convention center has been designed to depict the gracious elegance the South has to offer.
If that's not enough, surrounding the resort and convention center are several other Nashville attractions that have become popular for tourists and travelers throughout the world – The Grand Ole Opry, the new Opry Mills shopping center, The General Jackson showboat, and Springhouse Golf Club. With all of this in one location, it's no wonder the entire area has been given the reputation as being the premier destination for a vacation, convention or entertainment in the country.
The most noted features within the complex are its five main areas. They are The Convention Center, The Magnolia, The Garden Conservatory, The Cascades and The Delta.
* The Convention Center, with more than 600,000 square-feet of space, contains the Magnolia Section, Governor's Section, Tennessee Section, Presidential Section and the Delta Section. Meetings in the convention center are booked well into the 21st Century.
* The Magnolia Lobby reflects the property's original design from 1977 with its grand central staircase, giant fireplaces and other features depicting the South. A giant brass chandelier graces the lobby just above the grand staircase that leads to several sections of guestrooms. The area features several shops and restaurants and leads to other areas within the complex including the Magnolia Pool and outdoor gardens.
* The Garden Conservatory is filled with lush greenery lined walkways, waterfalls and fountains, indoor gardens and several restaurants and shops – all under a giant glass roof. The conservatory features secluded park benches and leads to the Cascades Conservatory. This conservatory was the first glassed-in section of the complex.
* The Cascades Conservatory is a tropical garden under a huge glass roof. It features a four-story cascading waterfall and includes a revolving lounge and a seafood restaurant. The Dancing Waters laser show is featured in The Cascades. The Cascades Portico leads to the outdoor pool area for guests. This conservatory was the second glassed-in section built for the complex. From this conservatory, one can walk to the Delta Conservatory area.
* The Delta Conservatory, the largest section of the hotel and the third conservatory built for the complex, features another glassed-dome environment with a waterfall flowing into the indoor Delta River. The river is home to flatboats that wind around a New Orleans-themed island. This section of the complex also has an 85-foot water fountain within view of the Old Hickory Traditional Steakhouse. On the Delta Island are a variety of shops and a food court area. From the Magnolia Lobby area, as well as the Delta Conservatory, you are able to easily get to the convention center.
Upon your arrival to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, you'll never have to leave. Everything you could imagine wanting to do is all under one roof. There are plenty of attractions within the complex to keep you busy all day.
Throughout the year, a variety of vacation packages are available. The complex is noted for its "A Country Christmas at Opryland" extravaganza with the world-renowned The Rockettes, and if you are unable to go to Nashville during the Christmas holidays, other packages are available. A few of them include a Romantic Memories package, a Golf Getaway, Ultimate Winter Getaway, Opry Winter Weekender, the upcoming John F. Kennedy Presidential Exhibition in March, a Southern Living Weekend, The Dove Awards Getaway, A Tribute to the King of Rock and Roll Weekend, and several other weekend package.
Editor's Note* Upon my stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, I had a third floor room with a balcony overlooking The Cascades Conservatory. My room featured two comfortable beds, a private bathroom and dressing area, a television with computer and Internet access and two large chairs in a corner sitting area. The staff was very accommodating and helped us in every way possible. The valet service was exceptional and everyone we came in contact with who works at the complex was professional and friendly. The Grand Ole Opry was a lot of fun and entertaining. The General Jackson was magnificent and the dinner and entertainment was out of this world. Opry Mills was a wonderful place to go shopping for the day.