Recently, we decided to take a middle-of-the-week road trip to Music City – a place neither of us had traveled to before.
Nestled on 47 acres and surrounded by the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee sits the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
“We’re actually the largest non-casino hotel in the continental United States,” said PR and Marketing Director Jenny Barker. “The Gaylord Opryland has 2,882 rooms and more than 9 acres of indoor gardens, a full service spa, restaurants, a 1/4 mile river, and lots of waterfalls. Definitely the largest in Tennessee and it is a true destination.”
He was right!
After seeing photos online, we opted away from the usual budget hotel choice and contacted the hotel to inform them of our intentions. The hotel was very accommodating, and even upgraded our room to give us closer placement to an elevator. (We had quite a bit of gear to lug around so that was absolutely AWESOME! Thank you again!)
To us – even this one night away felt refreshing.
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Originally named the Opryland Hotel when it opened in 1977, the property is currently part of Gaylord Hotels – a collection of upscale resorts – a brand under Marriott International. Around town, it is renowned for its luxurious atmosphere and massive build. It pretty much has a city in the Delta Atrium, so when you read ‘massive,’ that should help put things into context.
For those who want to explore Nashville – it’s close to the airport, Wildhorse Saloon, the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and the General Jackson Showboat. Complimentary shuttle transportation is available to guests.
“It was incredible to be part of the team that brought this Nashville icon back into operation,” Barker recalled. “We were closed for six months during the flood, and were so fortunate that 90 percent of our workforce that was here prior to the flood chose to return when we reopened that November.”
According to Barker, the resort took the opportunity to make massive changes based on feedback from guests over the years.
“We were able to re-concept several of our restaurants,” Barker informed us. “We brought in a Mexican option, and made the Italian restaurant more distinctive.”
So what did Chef James think about these dining options?
Here’s his take on the food situation:
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to try out all of their restaurants, but the restaurants that we did dine at were phenomenal.
Shortly after arriving, we had a quick lunch at Cascades American Café. A sushi menu from Wasabi’s was offered there as well.
Since living in Atlanta, we haven’t had many decent options (go figure) in the area that we reside.
Quite frankly, I am a stickler for high-quality foods, especially dishes served raw or undercooked – thus our conundrum for sushi options in our current location.
It’s a good thing, too, that the sushi was great – as I wouldn’t have even let it into this post otherwise.
The service was brigade-style, and our server Tony was able to direct me to a New World Cabernet Sauvignon.
From very little information that I provided, he chose a wine that was exactly what I was looking for.
Jennifer ordered Lobster Bisque, but because Barker had indicated that the filet was like “butter” – I had to try it for myself.
Cooking a high-quality cut of beef in a pan is an atrocity. You lose so many of the robust flavors that you receive when cooking it over an open flame. A traditional Au Poivre or Steak Diane is truly a delight when it’s prepared table side, due to the… For lack of a better word: theatrics.
That sort of cookery sets an ambiance and builds the anticipation of what you’re about to consume, and compensates more than adequately for the difference in flavor.
You consume a dish first with your eyes, and then with your mouth. If the dish is just prepared in a closed kitchen, you still have a great dish. If it’s prepared in a pan the traditional way, it just might not be outstanding. This is a personal preference, of course.
The portion sizes from the restaurant were very generous. A side dish from their a la carte menu was recommended to feed 2 to 3 guests. We opted for asparagus with a Béarnaise sauce. The Béarnaise wasn’t extremely bold, but the beauty of eating at an establishment with a great staff of experienced chefs is their interpretations on the cuisine. There are many different nuances that can be conveyed in a sauce or a dish. If you understand that a chef has given you something from his palate, you may even enjoy it more than if he served you exactly what you would prepare.
The desert course was the piece de resistance, also not in the traditional sense of the term, but excellent nonetheless. We enjoyed a Madagascar vanilla bean crème brulee with a Grand Marnier sauce and macerated raspberries, and a Chocolate Amerino cherry cylinder. Both of which were absolutely decadent, and a must-have if you decide to dine with them.
Okay, Jennifer here again…
Driving up to the property has a grand vibe, straight out of a classic Southern movie. Both valet and self-parking is offered. Perhaps due to it being a week day, we were able to secure a parking spot extremely close to the Cascades entrance.
We stayed in an Atrium King guest room, and found the room to be clean, well-appointed, with plenty of attention to detail in the crown molding, luxurious hardware, and traditional Southern furnishings. All of the Atrium rooms include an adorable balcony and fantastic view overlooking the scenery below.
While the resort is massively enormous, the entire staff (which Barker says are referred to as “stars”) made us feel right at home.
Despite what the weather conditions may be outside, inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center – it is always around 72 degrees. While it feels like you’re truly outdoors, there are no bugs to contend with, rain, or blistering hot sun.
As James and I explored the various areas of the resort, we enjoyed the serene environment and various waterfalls and fountains. When night fell, it felt like we were in some type of tropical paradise – with well-lit pathways and dramatic lighting.
Although there is plenty to do in Nashville, you could definitely spend your entire trip within the resort and still not have seen everything in the place. (We did also venture out to Craft South the next day)
We didn’t even scratch the surface on all of the amazing things that you can see and do at the Gaylord Opryland. Hopefully we will be able to make it back again for a long weekend, or a few days away.
In our opinion, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center offers a wonderful value for the price. We also noticed there are lots of great deals listed on the website, with new ones popping up at least a couple times a week.
If you’re planning to visit the Nashville area anytime soon, or may be looking for a quiet weekend getaway – definitely look into staying at this Southern gem.
See you next time!
James & Jennifer