Viewing Nashville from my Frontier flight at 20,000 feet I am struck by how small this town is really is. Over the last 5 days it has felt huge. Staying at the Gaylord Opryland, jokingly referred to as NashVegas, is somewhat of a Jules Vern-ish experience. This massive hotel property, the largest non gambling hotel in the US, gives you the feeling of being in your own world. At times it is easy to forget you are essentially enclosed in a bubble like environment, the attention to detail is that convincing. Not to mention that I received some of the best customer service I have ever had on a trip here. People are happy to work here and it genuinely shows in their guest interactions.
My teen son and I arrived Wednesday night and immediately took advantage of the hotel shuttle ($15 per person/roundtrip) to visit downtown Nashville. The Gaylord operates the Wildhorse Saloon which allows 21 & unders to enjoy the famed honkey tonk environment of Nashville. Unfortunately the Wildhorse was closed for a private party but we wandered down the street to find BB Kings, another one of only a handful of establishments that allow under 21’s. The live music was pumping, people were dancing, and fun was palpable. We tried sweet potato puffs with caramel sauce (he loved them, I didn’t) and had catfish po’ boys.
During our stay we enjoyed the pool and fitness areas. My son even worked out next to Joe Jonas, who was there doing a private concert for the Blissdom Conference I was attending. The outdoor pool was closed the entire length of our stay but we were able to use the jacuzzi and indoor pool. I was thrilled to see a pool wheelchair lift available on the inside lap pool.
While my youngest son was not with me on the trip, I constantly had my eye open for accessibly issues. Given the massive size of the property, I had a preconceived notion it would be hard for a chair user to manipulate. But ramps, lifts and specialized elevators are plentiful and seamlessly integrated into the environment. Several people at the conference I attended were either manual or power chair users and all seemed to be accessing everything fairly easily. The airport and downtown shuttles both were ADA compliant. On a tour with the Gaylord Opryland PR Representative, I felt a twinge of guilt for not bringing him. He probably would have loved the ability to manipulate such a large environment fairly barrier free. Next time!
I was lucky enough to get some feedback on the hotels accessibily from Anissa Mayhew who was using her new power chair at the event. Anissa brought up that the lack of electrical outlets in the room were in issue. I have to admit that I was annoyed to find just two outlets in the bedroom as well and I was just traveling as an overburdened tech user. Anissa also pointed out that both the maps on the walls, which are super important at this gigantic hotel, and the registration desk are too tall for people in chairs. To get around the map issue, make sure you carry the printed one with you or if you have an iphone download their app to view property maps.
If you haven’t heard yet, Gaylord’s next property will be right here in Aurora, CO. Built in part to the large annual Stock Show, I am anxious to see how closely it may mimic the Opryland’s footprint. Gaylord properties carry many brand wide themes, including the Dreamworks Experience Package. I can only imagine how nice it will be for local families to escape during a winter storm to a temperature controlled tropical paradise near DIA without having to actually go through TSA.