Last week I had a brief trip to Nashville for a conference. I stayed two nights at the Gaylord Opryland. You can read my thoughts on the sleeping rooms here. Since I was there for a conference I got to see a lot of the meeting space.
The Gaylord Opryland is a resort and convention center. The convention center is part of the main building – there is no need to go outside (which is good, because it was too cold to leave).
The convention center is huge – 600,000 square feet of meeting space, most of it in huge ballrooms. I would say that overall, the space was rather functional. There wasn’t anything particularly exciting about it – the hallways and pre-function space had a subtle plantation feel, but otherwise it felt very similar to the Hyatt Regency Orlando (formerly the Peabody) – just massively large!
Here is a map, to give you perspective:
If you have a huge meeting, this is ideal. But I could see smaller meetings getting lost. In fact, I was at a medium sized meeting and there was another similarly sized meeting at the same time, and our groups kept crossing paths. This might not be a huge deal, but I was horrified to almost commit a huge faux pas: taking coffee from a coffee break that isn’t your meeting’s! Luckily I stopped myself before I poured, but phew! Since I complain about coffee poachers at my own meeting (and let’s be honest – snack break and breakfast buffet poachers and moochers as well) it would have given me years of bad meeting and event karma to accidentally steal coffee.
Speaking of coffee, I had never seen a self-serve Starbucks before, but I guess that is one way to provide coffee:
Glamour shot of the ugly yet typical convention center carpet:
Here is one of the wedding venues:
In addition to the meeting space, like most of the Gaylords, there is a large atrium filled with stores, restaurants, flora and fauna. There are indoor waterfalls and a quarter-mile long river. You can even take a boat ride on the river (but it was $10 and I didn’t think that was worth it for a fake river).
One note on the restaurants – they are heavy on the casual dining (sit down) and fine dining. They don’t have much in the way of quick service. This was problematic during lunch breaks for the conference I was attending – hundreds of people broke for lunch at the same time and since lunch wasn’t provided, we all waited in line for the few restaurants that were open.
The Christmas decorations were still up when I visited (they were actually taking them down the day I left):
Overall, there is a fair amount to see and parts of the hotel are beautiful. It’s fun to walk around and explore – especially when you’re stuck inside because of the weather. But it’s expensive if you’re not on an expense account. The meeting space is definitely functional but nothing that blows me away. I might consider coming back with a large meeting, but if my husband and I do make it back to Nashville on a mini-vacation like I hope, I think we might stay somewhere smaller.
What did you think?
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