Announcing its third Opryland development outside of Nashville, Gaylord Entertainment Co. unveiled plans for a self-contained, 2,000-room destination hotel and convention center in Prince George's County, Maryland. The Opryland Hotel Potomac, which is slated to offer 400,000 square feet of meeting space, will be the first phase of the 534-acre National Harbor development.

The hotel is expected to open, complete with a signature Opryland atrium, in 2004. There are also plans 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 more than a mile of frontage on the Potomac River. Right off the Capital Beltway, National Harbor will have a full interchange with Interstate 495, I-95, and I-295 that will connect the area directly to downtown Washington.

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