Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gaylord Opryland Hotel Is Back In Business

It has taken me a while to get out to the reborn Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. You may remember that it sustained a great deal of damage in the 2010 Nashville flood, with water 10 feet deep inside the hotel. Closed for approimately six months, it reopened about a year ago. To the casual eye, you can't really tell that anything is different. It looks wonderful, just as it always did. Except for one major change. The main entrance is no longer the Magnolia entrance but the Cascades.

Photo from the Gaylord Opryland Website

To the uninitiated, Magnolia and Cascades refer to major parts of the hotel, along with Delta and Garden Conservatory. Each of these arms of the hotel have distinguishing features. Cascades, as you may suspect, has waterfalls, Delta has a lazy river with boat rides, the Garden Conservatory is like walking through one of the largest greenhouses, and Magnolia is the original part of the hotel. In addition, there is a gigantic convention center.

Sitting in the Cascades dining area this afternoon, I soaked up the afternoon sun coming through the glass roof and watched conference attendees come and go. And I listened to the indoor waterfall just to my right. It is just like being outdoors, exept you are indoors!

The Cascades

You can find almost anything here in the hotel--shops, food, entertainment, even indoor boat rides. It truly is a little city under a roof. Those from out of town must feel like they have stepped into hotel heaven. So many things to do and no reason to leave the hotel. Those in Nashville, however, may hesitate to go out there, because of the steep parking fee ($18). But just grab a meal while you are there, and you can get your parking ticket validated.

Delta Boat Rides

From the Cascades, you can walk through the Garden Conservatory to get to the Delta or Magnolia areas. There are both lower and upper walkways through the Garden Conservatory. Are you in a greenhouse, an arboretum, or the jungle? A little bit of all of it. Some guest rooms overlook the conservatory area.

Views from the Garden Conservatory Walkway

There are buildings inside the hotel. Below is the Old Hickory Steak House.

Old Hickory Steak House

Magnolia Area

The Magnolia area is the original area at the hotel and has its own  convention rooms and ballrooms. Luckily, the great murals in Magnolia, such as the one above of the original Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University, were left unhurt by the flood.

There are a number of fine dining restaurants at Gaylord Opryland Hotel, as well as some quick eating options. There are also a number of nightlife spots and retail stores. Buy a pair of cowboy boots while you are there!

Guests have access to a couple of pools, a spa, and a video arcade. The Grand Ole Opry House is next door and a golf course is in the neighborhood. Downtown Nashville is less then 15 minutes away.

At the end of the day, how did the new hotel compare with the older version? As a Nashvillian, I spent many hours in the past at Opryland Hotel attending various functions. I always had trouble finding my way around. But today it seemed like a breeze. What made the difference? Was it that I am older and wiser? That I finally picked up a hotel  map for the first time today at the concierage desk? Or is it because they must have reworked the hotel to some degree to make it more navigable? Probably all of it.

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