A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland

Spending a night at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center has been on our bucket list since moving to Nashville earlier this year. As an early Christmas present, we did just that last Friday night. This luxury resort in the heart of Music City is lovely on any given day, but shines spectacularly when dressed for Christmas!

The magic begins at the gate. The DH would tease that you could dress a recycle bin in a winter wonderland theme, and I would get excited. Ha!

For our one night, we stayed in a Standard Room with Traditional View in the Delta section of the resort. The room was elegantly appointed and spacious.

With older kids who don’t always like to share, we appreciated having two separate sink areas.

As a Marriott property, I knew Marriott’s Commitment to Clean involved elevated cleaning protocols to promote guest safety. As expected, there are a few adjustments to services, amenities, and facilities while navigating this new normal. As an added touch, each room was gifted antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.

Much to my chagrin, Stinky and Blinky opted to skip the Christmas lights in favor of watching tv in the room. So the DH and I set off on a mini date.

Indoors you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colors that make your heart smile. Outside the Magnolia Entrance is a larger-than-life nativity scene, and the Christmas Story plays on a loop. In spite of the cold, several families were gathered here to listen. Nearby, horse & carriage rides passed by with guests bundled up inside. It was a magical scene inside and out.

After a short stint inside to warm up with chai latte and pastries from Bravo Gelato, it was time to head back out.

I understand that ICE – two million pounds of themed ice sculptures and slides created by 40 artisans from around the world – is a annual affair at the Gaylord. However, not being able to bring the artisans together because of the pandemic, ICE was substituted with I Love Christmas Movies. The latter is an immersive, pop-up movie experience featuring sets from Elf, The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Year Without Santa Claus. The experience recreates three sets from each movie, which guests get to walk through.

While you wait your turn to enter the sets, there is an anteroom that weaves you around a light display reminiscent of Enchant DC. This we rather enjoyed.

But we did not love I Love Christmas Movies. To be fair, we haven’t watched all the movies featured. But we have seen several and there was still a disconnect. While the sets were beautifully recreated, something failed in the execution. A Production Assistant (PA) walks you through each multi-sensory set. However, the sound effects from other sets carried over and it combined with the PA trying to explain what you’re looking at. You’re also touring with other people, and sometimes there is a lag between sets for picture taking, etc. So you’re often hearing the end of one set while another is beginning.

I imagine this would be much better under normal circumstances where you can move about freely at your own pace. There is a lot of wonderful detail to soak in just from a visual arts perspective.

That said, our PA was energetic and expressed her gratitude several times that we came out to visit.

The next morning, the four of us set off to complete the Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt. Don’t be fooled into thinking scavenger hunts are just for littles. The four of us love them! We scoured the resort for Snoopy markers and each earned a Snoopy stocking.

Then we moved on to tubing and ice skating at Pinetop Village. It’s just like riding a bike. LOL!

We headed back inside for a very late lunch at Fuse. There were so many delicious options to choose from. It was our craving for wings that led us here. And its only now I realize I didn’t stop to take a photo. Womp!

We convinced bribed the kids to take a few family photos, for which we were allowed to briefly remove our masks.

After a little more ice skating, it was time to head home.

A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland features many more activities than the ones listed here. Also at the Gaylord is Soundwaves – the indoor/outdoor water attraction that fuses music and water. You would need several nights to experience everything.

A few observations:

  • Though there is a mask mandate in effect, we noticed too many families breaking this rule in crowds.
  • Locals park at the mall next door and walk over to see the lights. This makes it very crowded on the weekends. If scheduling permits, I would recommend a mid-week stay.
  • Saturday morning traffic was mild indoors and out. This changed late afternoon.
  • Social distancing markers and reminders are in high traffic areas, but with large crowds, they are not always observed.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are ubiquitous.
  • Nashville Health Department and Nashville PD were on hand to enforce masks and social distancing.

Crowd aside, we had a thoroughly enjoyable visit! I could easily see this becoming our own little annual tradition.

Update 12/21/2020: To ensure social distancing with immediate effect, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center implemented several new resort access policies. This one was released today.

As part of the Marriott Luminous program, when you book your visit through me, your benefits could include:

  • Complimentary daily breakfast (up to 2 people per bedroom)
  • Early check-in/late check-out (based on availability)
  • Priority complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival)
  • Welcome note/recognition from General Manager
  • Indigenous welcome amenity representing local area
  • Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily

As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email ebony@classictravelconnection.com to learn more.

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