By Charlene S. Mixa
Enjoy All That Can Be Found Under One Roof!
Energy and excitement of Nashville’s Music City blend with the epitome of Southern Hospitality at Gaylord Opryland to create wonderful cherished memories. On the banks of the Cumberland River, this landmark hotel amazes visitors with its nine acres of indoor gardens, cascading waterfalls and even an indoor river. Underneath the climate-controlled signature glass atriums lies an extraordinary selection of dining, shopping and recreation options for the perfect romantic weekend or family getaway. Just a short drive or riverboat cruise to dynamic Nashville, TN this flagship property of Gaylord Hotels offers comfort and luxury with an unparalleled environment. Join us to find all that is under one roof!
First impression of this massive property with its 2,881 guest rooms is the inviting environment as we enter the completely redesigned Cascades lobby. Absolutely amazing that after being flooded by the nearby Cumberland River in May 2010, the hotel redesigned and revitalized the Cascades area and reopened in only six months. Utilizing the new VIP check-in, we are warmly welcomed and quickly on our way to our room.
Our Garden View Guest Room has a dash of splendor with a balcony overlooking the Cascades Atrium with its lush garden landscape and sparkling waterfalls. Recently renovated the rooms are tastefully appointed featuring contemporary colors. Our luxurious accommodations include the King bed with plush linens, a comfy chair and ottoman, a work area desk, and the credenza has a handy refrigerator. With modern conveniences of high-definition TV, in-room high-speed wireless Internet access, in-room safe and easy-to-use voicemail.
Follow the green carpet! Each area of the hotel has color-coded carpet for ease in moving around this massive hotel. The Cascades is green befitting its tropical landscape while Magnolia is a burgundy carpet with magnolias. The lush gardens and landscaping are awesome as is the comfortable temperature inside. In the Garden Conservatory is a gazebo, thousands of flowering plants, shrubs and magnificent orchids. A waterfall has a walkway behind for a unique photo opportunity. Roaming over to the Delta area we find a river winding through it with many shops and restaurants. Mississippi-style delta flatboat rides are even available on the gently flowing indoor river. The large convention center is near the Magnolia area which is part of the original hotel built in 1977. Many families have a Christmas tradition of an annual family photo of the staircase and its elegant poinsettia Christmas tree. In this area is the newFuse Sports Club with its100 high-definition TVs it is just the right location for watching sporting events in style. Strolling through the hotel is relaxing as we take in the beauty of its most unique setting and wind our way back to the Cascades.
Dining options are endless! With eleven restaurants and options from fine dining at Old Hickory Steakhouse and Ravello to the comfort foods of Findley’s Irish Pub and Stax Burgers the Gaylord Opryland easily meets anyone’s gastronomical desires. At the Cascades American Café we are quickly seated for dinner. Located in the Cascades atrium the café gives the sense of being outside with the meandering brooks and dancing fountains. Blending the flavors of Nashville with favorite foods from other American regions, Cascades Cafe also showcases locally grown vegetables, meats and fresh seafood, even sushi. Richard’s choice is the Seared Georgia Bank Scallops while I have the Halibut with Vidalia mashed potatoes, which is stack of mashed potatoes layered between crunchy Vidalia onion rings. Both dinners are delicious and savory.
After dinner we walk through the atriums enjoy window shopping. Gaylord Opryland has some of Nashville’s finest shopping. Distinctive boutiques, fashion stores and retail shops are all at the hotel and under one roof. Whether it is souvenirs, exquisite jewelry or Opry-inspired Western wear, we easily find it at Gaylord Opryland. I especially liked the styles, glamour and, of course, rhinestones at the Western wear store. Later, we stop by the Falls Bar and Lounge for after dinner drinks enjoying the breathtaking views of the Cascade atrium and waterfall.
Now, it is time to hit the Gaylord Springs Golf Links just a few miles from the hotel. A winding road brings us to the splendor of its ante-bellum style clubhouse. It’s a warm summer day and we are glad to tee off before the midday heat hits. The course is currently undergoing a greens renovation during our visit so we play on its temporary greens. Designed by former U.S. Open and PGA champion Larry Nelson, Gaylord Springs has earned numerous golf awards including 2011 “Best Course You Can Play” of GolfWeek magazine. A Scottish links-style, par-72 layout, the course is carved along the banks of the Cumberland River with holes often bordered by limestone bluffs and wetlands.
Pot bunkers surround greens while water and marsh come into play on several holes adding to the demands of the course. The signature hole, No. 4, a 391 Yards, par-4 requires an accurate layup tee shot to avoid the water and an approach across water to a sloping green. Here we see the real springhouse for which the course is named. On the back nine No. 14, a par-4 dogleg right requires a good tee shot, especially for ladies, to carry the marsh. A GPS unit is great assistance in knowing the basic layout of each hole but also has a special “flyover” feature that gives a birdseye view of the hole. The course is in excellent condition and offers plenty of challenge for golfers of all levels. After golf we have a great lunch in the clubhouse recalling our fun round of golf.
Now to cool off in one of Gaylord Opryland’s three pools. On our way to the Cascades outdoor pool, we check out the fitness area which is large with plenty of exercise equipment and services. The Relache indoor pool is a tropical paradise but we go on to enjoy the sunshine at the Cascades outdoor pool area with two inviting pools as well as a poolside bar and grill. Seems many guests have the same idea as the pool deck is packed. Locating a couple of available padded chaises lounges we relax in the sun taking dips periodically to cool off and even do some water aerobics for our low-impact exercise.
All aboard the General Jackson Showboat! It’s Music City and time to “get down” to some great country music. A shuttle conveniently takes us to the dock for the General Jackson Showboat dinner cruise. On the massive top deck of this four deck boat, a blue grass band is playing as we partake of cocktails and take in the scenery of the Cumberland River. A 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat, the General Jackson is one of the largest showboats in the country. Shortly, we are called to dinner at the beautiful two-story Victorian Theater located in the center of the boat. The fixed menu has General’s Showboat Salad, Rosemary Roasted Chicken with country pan-gravy; cranberry cornbread dressing, herb-roasted Yukon potatoes and fresh broccoli are delicious. Our Theater Dessert is a New York style cheesecake drizzled with strawberry sauce.
Now, “play me some country music!” Country Music USA is a fast paced and often high-stepping walk down memory lane of country music. Songs we all love and remember, it is a nostalgic trip down country’s past and present. Singing along to old favorites of “Crazy” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” we have a fun journey through the songs of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flats. The performers are excellent with their great voices and energetic performances. As the show closes to rounds of applause, we depart the General Jackson singing or humming our favorite country tunes. A wonderful evening and finish to our visit to this great resort.
Gaylord Opryland is a place to create memories to last a lifetime. It has endless opportunities to explore of dining experiences, world-class spa, shopping and of course “country music”. In fact while we didn’t get to visit, the legendary Grand Ole Opry is just a short walk from the hotel. Plus visitors can also enjoy other music venues of Ryman Auditorium and Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, all part of Gaylord Entertainment. Be sure to plan plenty of time to experience the wanders of Gaylord Opryland and Nashville. We were so busy with activities at the Resort we never made it to Nashville. Discover Gaylord Opryland and make special memories.
If you go:
Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, 2800 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214; 615-889-1000; http://www.gaylordhotels.com/opryland-home.html