Sprawled on a bluff overlooking Lake Grapevine, the newest addition to the Gaylord Hotels portfolio, a 150-acre oasis of Texas charm, hospitality, and full-service amenities, held its grand opening May 7 to 9. Dallas and Fort Worth are just 20 minutes away, but the folks at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center have made certain that you needn’t go there if you don’t want to. Consider these stats:
1) 1,511 guest rooms, including suites and rooms with balconies
2) 400,000 square feet of dedicated convention, meeting, exhibit, and pre-function space. This includes 70 breakout rooms, three ballrooms, a 180,000-square-foot exhibition hall, and a two-acre event lawn for outdoor functions.
3) On-site audiovisual department, decorating company, and technology staff
4) A glass-enclosed, 4.5-acre atrium, complete with a rambling river and beautiful foliage
5) Six restaurants and seven lounges, including Texas Station, outfitted with 40 plasma screens ranging in size up to 50 feet by 14 feet.
6) A full-service spa, fitness center, and numerous shops—including an Office Depot

While these details are impressive, I found the most remarkable element at the Gaylord Texan is the 2,000-member staff. From banquet events to customer service, the Wow! factor is standard practice. Even during the resort’s grand opening weekend, when staff were working 15-hour days, they were full of smiles, graciousness, and energy.

The opening dedication on May 7, held in the spacious atrium, featured an orchestra and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Other gala activities: a black-tie dinner on Friday night and a swinging poolside Texas Barbecue on Saturday. All together, it was indeed a true Texas-style grand opening. - Jennifer Koski

What’s New at the Gaylord Opryland

If it’s been more than a couple of years since you visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville (as it had been for me when I visited the property earlier this year), it’s time to take another trip.

The largest nongaming hotel facility in the world, Gaylord Opryland has paid a great deal of attention to its signage over the past couple of years. And it’s been a tremendous improvement to navigating, from finding one’s way from the hotel’s check-in, to the guest rooms, to the meeting rooms, and back. With a hotel of that size, with multiple guest-room wings, finding one’s way wasn’t always so easy.

In fact, the property has undergone an $85 million renovation since 2002, and of that, a good $5 million was spent on a "way-finding" program, according to Warren Breaux, vice president of sales.

"The new signage package includes more vertical signage and more color-coding. Everyone has a fast-map program, which gives a detailed path and directions when he or she checks in," says Breaux. Groups get similar maps, including walking directions to the meeting registration desk at the convention center, and there are electronic kiosks that print out directions throughout the building. In addition, the hotel assigns groups to sections within the property, so that it is more like a "hotel within a hotel" concept, adds Breaux.

There’s always something new at the Gaylord Opryland. Religious groups will especially appreciate a new 37,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion with a clear span of 25 feet. "It’s perfect for groups that have outgrown our exhibit hall, or for outdoor concerts, or barbecues," says Breaux. "It is covered, and is designed so that you can drop down the sides, so it can be used nine months of year."

Other exciting news: The Gaylord Opryland soon will begin construction on a 27,000-square-foot, European-inspired spa, Relâche, scheduled to open next year. "For more than 27 years, this legendary property has been a preferred destination for highly productive and successful meetings," says Arthur Keith, senior vice president and general manager of the Gaylord Opryland. "We believe that with Relâche, Gaylord Opryland will become an oasis for travelers, whether they’re seeking a retreat or rejuvenation." The spa will feature an indoor-outdoor pool, 12 private treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The full-service beauty salon offers haircuts and styling, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and makeup application. The spa offers more than 30 separate stations for cardio, circuit, and weight training.

A Relâche spa is currently open at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center on Lake Grapevine, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the newest property in the Gaylord Hotels brand. In fact, meeting planners would do well to inquire about meetings at the Nashville, Dallas, and Orlando areas (Gaylord Palms), since all three are sold by a network of national sales professionals in eight offices around the country.

"We have been tremendously successful in selling the group of hotels. If planners can consider a rotation pattern over multiple years, we can give them the greatest deal, particularly for those large gatherings that want to meet under one roof." —Betsy Bair