Do you know the Gaylord Complexes of the Marriott hotel chain? Falling into the company’s Premium category, the second most luxurious of Marriotts, there are five of them, all located in the United States.
This article introduces you to the concept, their services and more specifically the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Indeed, I had the opportunity to visit it at Christmas 2019 and in August 2021.
The concept behind Gaylord Hotel Resorts
Let’s use all the superlatives we know to describe these complexes. The Gaylords deserve it. They are huge and all connected to convention centers. They are intended for business clients, families, couples and friends who wish to enjoy the facilities. To give you an idea, there are:
- Between 1,416 and 2,888 rooms and hundreds of suites.
- Thousands of square feet of meeting space. We’re talking about 600,000 at the one in Washington!
- Dozens of bar and restaurant options.
- Several shops on site.
- Glass atriums and thousands of plants. Enough to make a Botanical Garden swoon.
- Some animal habitats for example in the Gaylord Palm Resort, Florida.
- The Sound Waves experience, boat rides on inland waterways(Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland), a ten-acre water park (Texan Resort & Convention Center), etc.
- Then golf courses attached to the sites.
Finally, themed activities are offered every season. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to “Ghost and Treasure Hunts”.
They are therefore “resorts” dedicated to leisure as well as to business, in which several services are integrated. An all-inclusive, American version, signed Marriott.
The location of Gaylord Hotels
There are currently five and a sixth is under construction in California. Here they are:
Nashville's Gaylord Opryland
The atmosphere in Opryland
Despite the vastness of the place and the fact that one can get lost even with the indications and a card in hand, the spaces are pleasant to discover. One of the reasons for this is the abundance of flora along the winding paths. In addition, the waterfalls and cascades dampen the echo and noise.
There are three main areas in Opryland:
- Garden Conservatory
They contain 2,800 rooms and 19 restaurants. They sit alongside the convention center, the Sound Waves experience and the fitness center with its pools and spa.
Accommodation in Opryland
Surely we can see that gigantism comes at a price.
The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville is a category 6 Marriott resort and hotel. It is located about 20 miles northeast of downtown Nashville and about 15 miles north of the airport. It seems to stand on its own.
In order to take advantage of its services at a special time of the year, I simulated a five-night stay from 25 to 30 December 2021. At the heart of the Christmas celebrations, therefore during the high season.
It would cost 210,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a room for two adults and two children with two double beds. The hotel accepts a maximum of five people in the room. In US dollars, the nights vary during this period and, at the time of writing, between $389 and $484. I invite you to do your optimization calculations knowing that the fifth night is free when paid with points.
The most awarded rooms are those with a view of the Atrium including the small balcony. However, avoid the first floor as the flora will soon block your view. Delta and Conservatory Garden are the quieter areas. Cascades is the most animated. But according to the comments read, noise is not an issue for sleeping well. On the contrary, guests praise the murmur of the waterfalls.
Surprisingly, in early September, some overnight stays only require 35,000 points, while in cash, they retail for more than US$325. This means that your annual certificate could be used and be VERY much optimized at this Marriott BonvoyCategory 6 hotel! I’d keep an eye out later this year, if there are any opportunities that come up like this.
What is included in the price
The room rental, along with a resort fee of $20 US per day, allows access to the fitness center with its indoor and outdoor heated pools, high speed internet as well as discounts for special activities.
Surplus to be paid to Opryland
Because Gaylord is a resort, breakfast is not included in the context of a non-package rental. No matter what your Marriott status is. This will be compensated with points or an allowance of a few dollars, but well below the value of the expense for a breakfast.
You can order room service or visit the Cascades American Cafe restaurant which offers breakfast daily.
The resort does give its elite members some slight advantages that you have to ask for at the reception. You can also take advantage of it by scanning the QR code on the back of your room key envelope.
For $35 per person 18 years and older, a shuttle service is available to and from the airport. One Marriott member, however, reports getting a discount because of his status. Try it!
The service is free for minors.
There is also a $20 fee for a round trip to the downtown area and the golf course. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Broadway to spend the evening with his Honky Tonks.
Finally, if you plan to visit outside the complex for 3 consecutive days, $40 passes are available on site.
All special activities that children cannot resist are subject to a fee. Examples include a gingerbread cookie making workshop, a boat ride on the inland river ($14), a bas-ment with RV games, a climbing wall and arcades, ice slides, a skating rink or lunch with a famous character.
Discounts of 15% or 30% are available depending on the number of activities chosen. When I visited in August 2021, it cost, for example, US$41-45/person for 4 activities. Children could sign up for the treasure hunt, the royal tea time or a “Pirate and Princess” workshop including a boat ride.
The Sound Waves Experience
The Sound Waves experience is different from a water park. In Opryland, the site covers 4 acres and three floors. Its equipment is interior and exterior. However, the latter are closed from September to May.
It is only available to guests staying at the hotel. The inclusive accommodation option, which ranges from $459 to $809 US per night, depending on room type and number of guests, is the only one that includes and guarantees entry to the Sound Waves. Other hotel guests can purchase daily passes (US$42 to $57) but only if there are any left. A risk to take.
But what does this so-called “high-end” experience offer?
Well here it is, first of all relaxing water games like a walk on water lilies, the lazy river and the shower under a rain curtain. Then there are energizing rides like the mega raft, loop slides, wave pool, surf river and four lane running mat. Add immersive music.
Finally, there are areas dedicated to families, toddlers, adult-only areas and private cabana rentals. With services, please. And so on.
The entrance bracelet allows you to arrive early at the hotel to enjoy the Sound Waves facilities from 11:00 to 20:00. You can leave and enter the site as you wish to go to your room or to the restaurant.
It is also possible to spend a day or two at Gaylord Opryland without renting a room. That is what I did. Great deal.
You can enjoy the free daily visual and audio spectacle that the Gaylord offers, both inside and out.
The waterfalls and lush gardens (50,000 tropical plants), the gigantic decorations, the evening lights, the costumed characters who distribute free gifts during the holiday season are all accessible to you free of charge.
Also, I loved the very large check-in area. Its marble floors, stained glass ceilings and the superb glass sculpture by…not Chihuly but Ludek Hroch (and blown by LASVIT) offer a place to rest. I like to watch the coming and going of the human fauna.
Finally, it is possible to eat at any time and participate in paying activities.
Day visitors can purchase tickets in advance with a reserved timeslot to participate in the activities. These will be unveiled shortly and will take place from November 12, 2021 to January 2, 2022. You can register to receive the list and book here
However, the Sound Waves experience is excluded as well as the entire fitness complex.
Getting to Tennessee
It takes about 17 hours to drive from Montreal to Nashville. One night will be enough to split the trip in two, especially with children.
If you choose to fly, say from December 25 to 30, you will have to count a stopover. Indeed, direct flights have not yet resumed. The trips should take about 5 hours.
The cost for a round trip would be 19,100 Aeroplan and $94.82 in taxes per person via Toronto or $443 .46. A companion ticket with that?
On the other hand, the search with AIR MILES was not successful. Definitely too expensive.
You know what? I wish you Nashville. In the season of your choice. Because there is so much to do for the whole family.
I also wish you the Gaylord Opryland, in whatever form you choose. Using your annual certificate(s) in low season if you want. Or if you prefer, aim for the package with the Sound Waves experience.
I know it’s massive. It’s American. And why not? I’ll do a house swap, glamping or cat sitting for lodging some other time.
Enjoy your stay!