Once you visit the largest non-casino hotel in the continental United States, you’ll dream of coming back.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Gaylord Opryland is big. It’s really big.
I’d heard about the size of the place for many years from different sources before I had an opportunity to visit Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. So it came as little surprise when my husband and I pulled up to the registration area and found four times the number car lanes compared to most hotels.
But the sheer scale of the place really starts to sink in when you’re floating along on a quarter-mile guided river tour inside one of the resort’s three atriums.
The spacious lobby is a sneak peek, with multiple check-in stations and plenty to look at, including a large glass sculpture called “Resurgence” by a European artist. Yet even from that vantage point, you really have no idea what lies ahead.
When a bellhop offers to escort you to your room, don’t pass up the guide, especially on your first visit. Because even though during your stay you’ll quickly figure out the layout of the property, navigating through the space can be overwhelming at first and finding your room may not be that easy.
The largest non-casino hotel in the continental United States, Gaylord Opryland boasts 2,881 guestrooms, including 174 suites and five themed presidential suites, all lavishly decorated in contemporary Southern style. There are also nine acres of lush botanical gardens with waterfalls and a flowing river—all indoors!—plus dozens of restaurants, eateries and 12 boutique shops, multiple entertainment venues, extensive convention and meeting space, and more.
Our guestroom overlooked the Cascades atrium, a wonderland of tropical plants ready to be explored by paved trails and elevated walkways. The view from our balcony was a waterfall, which also provided a mesmerizing soundtrack. Between that and the comfortable bed dressed in crisp clean linens, we slept better at Gaylord Opryland than we do at home.
Located a short drive from downtown Nashville, the resort can serve as a home base place for an active get-out-and-explore-Music-City type of getaway. It can also be a destination in its own right, with everything you need for a great vacation all under one big roof—which makes it perfect for mixing business and pleasure, blending your goals with those of your travel companion(s), plain old relaxing, basic convenience and simplifying the travel planning process. Once you’ve been here, you’ll daydream about coming back.
Return visits make sense, since over the course of a couple days it’s impossible to discover all that Gaylord Opryland has to offer. Here are some things you won’t want to miss:
For true relaxation, book a treatment at Relâche Spa where menu of services includes massages, facials, body therapies, hand and foot therapies, nail enhancements, hairstyling, make-up, waxing and more—such as seasonal treatment options that often incorporate organic fruits and vegetables. “The benefits of what a spa does can change your life,” says Yolanda Harris-Jackson, spa director. “Let go of the craziness. Life can be busy and get overwhelming. Turn it off.” The soothing stone massage, the spa’s most popular treatment, is an excellent way to start. The treatment targets tense muscles with smooth stones to invite deep relaxation The Classique Pedicure is a pampering experience that gives you weeks of sandal-wearing perfection. Relâche Spa therapists have an average of seven years of experience, a level of expertise that makes the treatments here especially effective. Before or after your treatment, spend some opulent “me time” at the spa in the steam room, sauna, relaxation lounge, hot tub and three pools.
To learn more about the resort, hop aboard a Delta Riverboat Tour and float down the quarter-mile river that meanders through the Delta atrium’s 4.5-acre indoor gardens. The guide will share facts about the property and its history—including interesting tidbits and statistics about the original construction, subsequent expansions and repairs after the historic flood of 2010—point out unusual plants and fish, share amusing anecdotes about Gaylord Opryland and answer questions.
Before or after dinner, check out a Delta Fountain Show, a mesmerizing spectacle of water and light choreographed to music. (Complimentary shows are held daily in the Delta Atrium at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m.) The atriums are kept at a comfortable 72-degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so no need to carry a jacket.
Dining options abound. For an upscale casual experience surrounded by lush tropical gardens and waterfalls, head to Cascades American Café where the menu showcases classic and contemporary Southern fare with a Nashville flavor. For an upscale Italian dining experience you won’t soon forget, opt for Ravello. Order what piques your interest from the menu or follow the recommendations of your server, either way, you can’t go wrong. For a casual meal with south-of-the-border flair, choose Solario where Chef Paulina Suarez gives Mexican favorites like tacos and fajitas a fresh twist.
The resort is located near the famed Grand Ole Opry, so after dinner head to a live performance (on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) starring a mix of stars from yesterday and today along with rising talent. Known as “the show that made country music famous,” the Grand Ole Opry is synonymous with Nashville. The historic AM radio show today also airs online and is even posted on Twitter, though nothing can compare to seeing it for yourself.
Like any big star, Gaylord Opryland makes a grand entrance and a lasting impression.
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, TN 37214
- Gaylord Opryland is located 10 minutes from Nashville International Airport.
- Complimentary shuttle service is available to/from the resort and the Grand Ole Opry, Gaylord Springs Golf Links, and General Jackson Showboat. If your itinerary allows time for touring the major attractions in Downtown Nashville or taking a day trip to Franklin, you’ll need a car.
- Each guestroom has a refrigerator plus a coffee maker with complimentary coffee and tea.
- The hotel is smoke-free.
- Self parking is $20/day (+ tax); valet parking charges are $26 per day (+ tax).
- The $18/day (+ tax) resort charge includes a resort savings card; wireless Internet access in all guestrooms and many public areas; 2 bottles of water per day; access to the fitness center and pools; free local, domestic and toll-free calls; online access to the Wall Street Journal; and scheduled shuttle service to the Grand Ole Opry House, General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Links and Opry Mill.
- Odds of Encountering Children: Inevitable. For the best odds, book a room in the Cascades section, where most guestrooms have king beds rather than two queens. Though there’s no strict rule, families typically stay in the Delta section (where more rooms have double queens or adjoining parlors and rooms are closer to kiddie attractions) while conventioneers tend to book rooms in the Magnolia section (since it is closest to the convention center).
–Photos Courtesy Gaylord Opryland
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.