After a six-month, $270 million renovation, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville has reopened. The 2,881-room property was forced to close last May when torrential rainfall flooded the hotel, leaving behind several feet of water and more than $220 million worth of damages.
To celebrate its grand re-opening, Gaylord Opryland hosted a special three-day event (Nov. 18-20) for more than 1,000 meeting planners, travel professionals and media members, intended to showcase the entire city as a travel destination. Festivities included performances by Trace Adkins, Keith Urban, Sheryl Crow and Craig Morgan, as well as sessions with celebrity chef Guy Fieri.
“We are ready for the world to see that Gaylord Opryland is back and more beautiful than ever,” stated Pete Weien, senior vice president and general manager of Gaylord Opryland. “Although parts of our famous atriums were under up to 10 feet of water, we pulled together with passion, perseverance and pride to not only restore the hotel to its original splendor, but to make it even more incredible for our guests.”
The Gaylord Opryland is largest hotel in the U.S., outside of Las Vegas, and is Nashville’s largest meeting facility with 600,000 square feet of event space. It represents 10 percent of the total number of rooms in the city and generates nearly 25 percent of Nashville’s total hotel tax revenue. Because of the flooding, 181,600 group travel room nights were rebooked at neighboring hotels and other Gaylord properties, and approximately 1,700 employees were laid off, though the majority of staff has since been rehired.
The record flooding left 70 percent of the common areas and 100 percent of the subterranean areas submerged in water. Other Gaylord assets affected included the Grand Ole Opry House, which reopened in September, and the Gaylord Springs Golf Links, which reopened in July. The resort’s refurbishment called for nearly 1,300 around-the-clock workers, at times, and features three new restaurants, a wine bar, and redesigned lobbies, suites, and guest rooms (115 were completely overhauled). The HVAC systems, power generation and laundry facilities also were retrofitted to improve overall sustainability and energy efficiency.
“A silver lining of this process has been the opportunity to give Gaylord Opryland a significant overhaul, allowing us to take what was already a world-class property and bring it back as an even greater experience for our guests,” stated Colin V. Reed, Gaylord Entertainment chairman and chief executive officer. “Meeting planners who have been given a preview of the modifications have already expressed their enthusiasm. We have every confidence that the hotel will seamlessly return to business as usual and be a strong contributor to our brand — a belief supported by the fact that we already have 50 points of occupancy booked at the property for 2011.”
The Gaylord re-opening happens just in time for their 27th annual A Country Christmas, a nearly two month-long holiday extravaganza, that features more than a dozen shows and attractions, such as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and ICE!, an interactive ice sculpture world.