I stayed at the Gaylord Opryland a few times as a child. My family lived about 3 hours from Nashville, Tenn., where the hotel is located.
That’s right, “it.” One atrium. So you can imagine my surprise when I visited the Gaylord Opryland again last fall. The hotel has been expanded several times since then, and now has 9 acres of indoor gardens.
While the Gaylord Opryland used to be a hotel at a destination, it has now grown to be a destination in itself.
The Rooms: My room had a private balcony that overlooked one of the hotel’s atriums. The beds were comfy and the linens were luxurious. There was ample room for a family to unpack clothes, and the balcony makes it easier to spread out a little and not feel overly crowded if you put parents and kids together. Rooms have a mini fridge, always a boon for families. The Gaylord Opryland is designed for conventions as well as for leisure travel, and the room was equipped with a small desk for working. The wireless Internet was easy to use, and surprisingly fast for such a large property.
The Property: The Gaylord Opryland is basically like visiting a resort town, all inside one roof. Besides the gardens and your hotel room, there are shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, pools, a spa, and even an indoor riverboat ride. I would not be living up to the “Theme Park Mom” name if I did not point out here that this property used to be next door to the Opryland U.S.A. theme park, and visits there were the reason for my childhood stays at the hotel. The hotel is on the banks of the Cumberland River, adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry and the theme park’s replacement, the gigantic Opry Mills mall. It is convenient (about a 10-15 minute drive) to both Nashville’s airport and Nashville’s downtown, where country music landmarks such as the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame are located.
Dining: There are more than a dozen eateries at the Gaylord Opryland, everything from fine dining at the Old Hickory Steakhouse to a quick slice of pizza at Paisano’s. The Sunday brunch offered at the Water’s Edge Marketplace is one of Nashville’s most popular dining experiences. My favorite meal at the Gaylord Opryland this time around was a late breakfast at the Cascades American Cafe. The braised beef short rib hash might just be the best savory breakfast dish I have ever eaten, and we followed that up with the way-too-decadent Nutella French foster – a French toast “sandwich” spread with Nutella and topped with a bananas foster syrup. Oh. My. Goodness.
My Mama Moment: Chilling out alone with a glass of wine at the revolving Cascades Terrace Lounge while staring up at the giant suites on the top floor, wondering what country music royalty might be staying inside them.
Pros: The Gaylord Opryland is an destination unto itself, a place where you can fly in or park your car and have plenty to do for a long weekend. If you live in a place with a long winter, the climate-controlled atriums here are like a tropical getaway in the middle of the United States. The service at the Gaylord Opryland is excellent in every category from housekeeping to retail to dining. This hotel is equally well suited for a family getaway with pool time, atrium exploring and a trip to the Grand Ole Opry, or a girlfriend getaway that includes shopping til you drop, club hopping and a trip to the Relache Spa.
Cons: I was surprised that a hotel of this size does not offer some sort of evening child care program. With all the nightlife available both inside the hotel and out and about in Nashville, a group child-care option would make for the perfect family weekend — time with and without the kids.
Great for: Girlfriends, Families, Groups or Couples.
Special thanks to the Gaylord Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry for hosting my visit.