Plans would add all-suites hotel, meetings space to Opryland


The massive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville would become even larger under a $400 million expansion plan that would add a new hotel and meetings space.

The flagship Gaylord Opryland has 2,881 guest rooms and 600,000 square feet of meetings and convention space. Despite its size, the property turns down requests for almost 2 million room nights a year due to "our high demand and lack of space," said Colin Reed, Gaylord Entertainment's chairman and CEO.

The resort "operates at the highest level of occupancy in our system," said Reed.

To accommodate some of that demand, the company has proposed adding a 400-room, all-suite, luxury hotel along with another 400,000 square feet of meetings and convention space to the property.

Gaylord estimated that construction would be completed in 2010.

Additionally, the existing Gaylord Opryland would undergo a three-year, $125 million renovation.

To finance construction for the project, Gaylord said it would seek approval from metropolitan Nashville and the state of Tennessee for the issuance of an $80 million tax-exempt bond. 

"This incentive is necessary to the project financially in order for Gaylord to invest $320 million in private capital," said Reed. "Our plan does not put Metro Nashville or the state's existing tax reserves at risk and will not be a burden to the city's taxpayers."

Gaylord said the Opryland Resort attracts 1.5 million visitors to Nashville each year.

The company said an economic study conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee estimated that the expansion would bring an additional 400,000 convention attendees and increase annual income in the Nashville metro area by $165.1 million while generating more than 1,300 jobs.

The study estimated that annual state and local tax revenue would increase from $64 million to $98.6 million.

Gaylord also operates the 1,406-room Gaylord Palms in Orlando and the 1,511-room Gaylord Texan near Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which Gaylord is considering expanding, as well.

Gaylord Entertainment, meanwhile, is developing a 1,500-room property, the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, on the Potomac River in Prince George's County, Md., a short drive from downtown Washington.

It will be part of National Harbor, a 300-acre, mixed-use development under construction.

The Gaylord National property will include 400,000 square feet of meetings space, which would be one of the largest facilities in the Washington area when it opens in 2008. It also will have many of the signature elements of other Gaylord resorts, including a spa and dining venues.

Gaylord also has entered into an agreement with the Unified Port of San Diego to develop a convention hotel complex on an undeveloped, waterfront section of San Diego's Chula Vista area.

Initial plans call for a 1,500- to 2,000-room hotel with up to 500,000 square feet of convention and meetings space.

Like Gaylord National, the San Diego resort also would serve as an anchor to a larger multiuse project.

To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].


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