It’s official: Gaylord Hotels are now a part of the Marriott family. The two joined forces in a $210-million deal announced in May, 2012, which transferred the Gaylord Hotels brand and management of their four hotel and convention centers to Marriott International. This puts the big and beautiful Gaylord properties in the Marriott system for reservations as of October, though Marriott Rewards benefits won’t apply until October 29th and don’t include the Gaylord Opryland. (That may change in 2013; Rewards members have been advised to watch for news.)
This also means literally thousands of Marriott loyalists who may never have visited a Gaylord property will now be exposed to the luxury locations, known for their soaring atria and annual collaboration with Dreamworks. Families flock to the hotels for the Ice!TM holiday extravaganzas, featuring Dreamworks’ Merry Madagascar in Texas and Florida, and Dreamworks’ Shrek the Halls in Nashville and Washington, DC, for 2012. We love the Gaylord resorts, and thought this was a great excuse for a quick tour!
Gaylord Hotels’ Signature Attractions
Three things at every Gaylord resort are always worth the visit:
- Signature Atria reflect the culture, history and landscape of each locale and are not to be missed. Particularly during the holidays, they are beautiful destinations unto themselves.
- Old Hickory Steakhouse, steeped in great steak house traditions, offers fine dining, artisanal cheese caves and cellar rooms filled with award winning wines.
- Relâche Spa, Salon and Fitness Center, though varied in format, is consistent in pampering and wellness to help you relax, look great and work off that dinner at Old Hickory Steakhouse!
Gaylord National, Washington, DC / Maryland
Anchored in National Harbor, a 300 acre mixed-use destination overlooking the Potomac River, the National is the youngest of Gaylord’s resort and convention facilities, opening in 2008, and is the largest non-gaming hotel and convention center on the east coast. As is the custom, the atrium features plants and architecture representative of the area; in this case, a Colonial-era mercantile shop and a Federalist-style farmhouse. The resort’s indoor and outdoor garden areas are historically themed and include a colonial garden, a tree-lined river walk promenade and a great lawn dotted with 1,200 oak, cherry and chestnut trees as part of the mid-Atlantic landscape.
The hotel features six presidential suites, eight concept suites and 91 executive sweets, in addition to 2,000 standard guest rooms. A highlight is the National Bay, a hotel-within-a-hotel concept with upscale boutique hotel amenities and five-star mega-resort services. The Relâche Spa and Fitness Center here is one of the largest in the area and is available 24/7, which is good because there are half a dozen restaurants, bars and cafes at the resort.
Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Florida
If you’ve been to Walt Disney World, you’ve likely passed the Gaylord Palms about five minutes down the road. Having recently undergone a $50-million renovation, the resort features just over 1400 guest rooms and suites in a setting reminiscent of a grand Florida mansion. The soaring 4.5-acre glass-enclosed atrium features three themed environments depicting Key West, St. Augustine and the Everglades. Highlights include a replica of the Castillo de San Marcos, a Key West-inspired Mallory Square and the famed “River of Grass.” Thousands of tropical plants and several species of animals, including alligators and stingrays native to Florida, inhabit the resort.
While every Gaylord hotel includes the Old Hickory Steakhouse, each features unique dining options as well. At the Palms, you won’t want to miss lunch or dinner aboard the 60-foot sailboat at Sunset Sam’s, a Key West Grill. And again, you can work off dessert at the award winning Relâche Spa & Salon, rated a 2012 Four Star spa by Forbes Travel Guide. When you’ve had enough of the nearby Magic Kingdom, you’ll appreciate the adults-only South Beach Pool, an ultra-chic oasis lined with tropical palms, poolside cabanas and a dedicated cocktail bar.
Gaylord Texan, DFW
Located between Dallas and Fort Worth in historic Grapevine, Texas, the Gaylord Texan brings together highlights of Texas history, culture and landscapes in the Lone Star Atrium. A recreation of the Alamo and Spanish plaza dominates one corner of the atrium, which includes a river walk which takes strollers through representations of West Texas and the Hill Country. Outside, you’ll find a small vineyard, paying homage to the host city’s wine industry.
New to the Texan is Paradise Springs, a 10-acre, western-themed resort pool and lazy river complex. The family lagoon features a 27-foot-tall water slide, two horseshoe-shaped hot pools, and a dedicated toddler pool. You can also get your party on at the Glass Cactus nightclub on the shores of Lake Grapevine featuring local and national entertainment.
Gaylord Opryland, Nashville
Originally the Opryland Hotel, opened in 1977 adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry House and the Opryland USA theme park, this is the hotel that started it all when Gaylord Broadcasting bought the property in 1982 and became Gaylord Entertainment. The resort and convention center is now the largest hotel in the US outside of Las Vegas, boasting 2,881 guest rooms. In a hotel filled with “centerpieces,” perhaps the most stunning is the Delta Atrium, part of a $175-million expansion completed in 1996. The atrium features a quarter-mile long artificial waterway called the Delta River, and several shops in a marketplace area reminiscent of New Orleans. Fascinating fact: Delta River contains water samples from more than 1,700 rivers throughout the world, including every registered river in the United States.
The massive complex has many notable areas, including the splendid Magnolia lobby, the original entrance and retail area of the hotel, dominated by the Grand Staircase modeled after Tara from the movie Gone With the Wind. The first atrium constructed at Opryland was the Garden Conservatory, a very romantic setting with true southern charm which hosts several weddings each year. Adjacent to the check-in lobby, the Cascades atrium is best known for its dancing fountains and the hotel’s largest waterfalls. The hotel features restaurants, pubs and cafes with global touches, but you don’t want to miss the tasty barbecue at Jack Daniel’s Saloon and retail store.
Whichever Gaylord you visit, you can rely on dedicated staff and excellent service, comfortable accommodations and wonderful touches of luxury. This mini-tour has only touched the surface; each resort has much more on offer, including golfing, shopping and seasonal events. Whether you’re traveling or live close by, they are definitely worth a visit; you should plan on at least half a day to take in the atria, enjoy lunch or dinner, and browse through the shops. If you plan to attend holiday events, make it a full day and be prepared for a line at attractions. (It’s worth noting that little ones will enjoy character activities; teens and adults less so.)
Photos courtesy of Gaylord Hotels.