Nashville Comes to Washington, D.C. Announcing its third Opryland development outside of Nashville, Gaylord Entertainment Company unveiled plans for a self-contained 2,000-room destination hotel and convention center in Prince Georges County, Maryland. The Opryland Hotel Potomac will be the first phase of National Harbor, a 534-acre site being developed by The Peterson Companies of Virginia.

The project will feature 400,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, making its convention space larger than the Washington Convention Center's original 381,000 square feet. The Opryland Hotel Potomac will be the first major convention hotel built in the Washington area since 1986.

The first phase of the development is expected to open, complete with a signature Opryland atrium, in 2004. Plans also call for a 24,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 18,000 square feet of retail space.

National Harbor is just downriver from Reagan National Airport. The site has 1.25 miles of frontage on the Potomac River. Located right off the Capital Beltway, National Harbor will have a full interchange linking it to I-495, I-95, and I-295, which connects the area directly to downtown Washington.

A Gaylord assessment of where meeting planners were looking for additional facilities put the Washington, D.C., area on the top of the list. But Gaylord Entertainment also has two other Opryland hotels in development, one in Orlando (scheduled to open in 2002) and one in Grapevine, Texas (scheduled to open in 2003). Dave Jones, president of the Gaylord's Hospitality and Attractions Group, said there are plans to open a total of five to seven Opryland properties over the next decade.