Gaylord Entertainment Co. reopened the 2,881-room Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, the largest hotel in the United States outside of Las Vegas.
The property has been closed since experiencing damage following the historic flooding in Nashville, Tenn., on May 2-3, 2010. The timing of the re-opening, as well as the costs associated with the restoration of the property, are both within the original projections the Company communicated in early June. The property has been closed for 195 days.
“This is not only a tremendous moment for Gaylord, but for the whole city of Nashville,” said Colin V. Reed, chairman and chief executive officer of Gaylord Entertainment. “Although the road to this point has been a challenging one for our company, I am incredibly proud of the passion and spirit with which our entire team responded. I especially want to thank our STARS (hotel employees), our contractors, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the rest of the officials here in Nashville, the state of Tennessee, our customers, and our management team. This would not have been possible without all of you.”
Gaylord has successfully hired back approximately 75 percent of its former employees.
“Our hotel staff is a major part of the guest experience here at the Opryland Hotel,” said Pete Weien, senior vice president and general manager of Gaylord Opryland. “We pride ourselves on the fact that our STARS are some of the best trained and experienced hospitality staff in the business.”
The re-opening of Gaylord Opryland follows the restoration and successful return of Gaylord’s additional Nashville assets which were damaged by the flooding. The Grand Ole Opry re-opened its permanent home, the world-famous Opry House, at the end of September with a triumphant celebratory concert.
The General Jackson Showboat and Wildhorse Saloon have also resumed normal operation, along with the Gaylord Springs Golf Links.
“We are ready for the world to see that Gaylord Opryland is back and more beautiful than ever,” said Weien. “Although parts of our famous atriums were under up to 10 feet of water, we pulled together with passion, perseverance and pride, to not only restore the hotel to its original splendor, but to make it even more incredible for our guests.”
Although the damage to the hotel was extensive with approximately 70 percent of the common areas and 100 percent of the subterranean areas under water, the property is returning with a number of improvements and re-designs to enhance the guest experience.
These include the addition of three new restaurants and a wine bar, the re-design for improved comfort and luxury of hundreds of hotel rooms that were untouched by the flood, an upgrade of both the technology and the layout of the lobby area for a better entry experience, and improved meeting rooms and equipment, among other modifications.
The 115 lower-level Delta guestrooms that were affected by the flood were torn down to the studs and completely refurbished and are ready for guests.
The company also invested in superior energy efficiency and sustainability in its power generation and HVAC systems, as well as its laundry facilities.
“A silver lining of this process has been the opportunity to give Gaylord Opryland a significant overhaul, allowing us to take what was already a world-class property and bring it back as an even greater experience for our guests,” said Reed. “Meeting planners who have been given a preview of the modifications have already expressed their enthusiasm. We have every confidence that the hotel will seamlessly return to business as usual and be a strong contributor to our brand; a belief supported by the fact that we already have 50 points of occupancy booked at the property for 2011.”
Gaylord will be hosting a three-day Grand Re-opening event at the property from November 18-20. The company has invited 1,000 of the industry’s leading meeting planners and other travel industry leaders to Nashville for the event, which is designed to showcase the entire city as a travel destination.
“This is an opportunity to generate a greater sense of excitement about what we have to offer as a city and to drive tourism back to Nashville for years to come,” said Reed. “We look forward to welcoming back our guests and showcasing the tremendous improvements at Gaylord Opryland.”
The celebration will kick off with the traditional holiday lighting ceremony to begin Gaylord Opryland’s annual “A Country Christmas” festivities, and events throughout the weekend will include the introduction of this year’s ICE! exhibition, celebrity chef sessions, and performances from Nashville recording artists Trace Adkins, Craig Morgan, Keith Urban, and Sheryl Crow.
“This is a week full of major celebrations,” said Weien. “Of course, the much-anticipated re-opening day of our resort. Then, the popular Christmas Lighting Ceremony is Thursday, followed by a Community Benefit Concert with Trace Adkins and Craig Morgan inside the hotel. And our private re-opening celebration ceremony is Friday night, the 19th, which is also the official start of our world-famous ‘A Country Christmas’ season. And we are eager and ready for all of it!”