When Gaylord Opryland celebrated its grand reopening in November, just six months after the big Nashville flooding, it was the type of event that Opryland exceeds in: A no-holds barred, get-’em-outta-their-chairs extravaganza—indoor fireworks and all! “It was like opening a brand new hotel all over again,” said GM Peter Weien. “We were able to rehire 83% of those employees laid off due to the flood…. And thanks to the around-the-clock detailed work of some of Middle Tennessee’s best contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers, and along with the unwavering support from our Nashville community, we were able to stay right on schedule and be in the position to reopen just in time for the holiday season.” With over 1,000 meeting professionals and other guests in attendance, Opryland’s reincarnation was as big as its four million square feet of inside space. The weekend included themed meal functions, personalized site visits and special entertainment by Keith Urban and Sheryl Crow. Walking into the Keith Urban concert inside the expansive Delta Ballroom, I was first hit by the sheer size of the place. It’s cavernous. In the first half of the ballroom, there were bars and food stations set up like a county fair with carts displaying popcorn, peanuts, hamburgers and ribs. All you had to do was go up and grab what you wanted. The rest of the ballroom was set theater style for the concert. Art was the theme for the Sheryl Crow show. Back in the Delta Ballroom, the front half of the room was set with bars, hightop tables and colorful lights swirling off the white backdrape and canopy, making the room one big dancing rainbow. The front was set banquet style with each table an eloquent comment on a different color from the artist’s palette. Gaylord Opryland specializes in large, affordable events with 2,880 guestrooms and 600,000 sf of meeting space. It houses five themed sections under one roof: Cascades, Garden Conservatory, Delta, Magnolia and Convention Center. The Convention Center wing is gargantuan with six ballrooms so planners have lots of choices. The Delta Ballroom, their signature event space, features more than 55,000 sf of space, including a 63’ x 40’ stage, three dressing rooms, registration offices, and direct vehicle access. The 18,000-sf Governor’s Ballroom, 18,000-sf Tennessee Ballroom and 29,000-sf Presidential Ballroom also have direct vehicle access. The Magnolia Ballroom, luxuriously appointed with crystal chandeliers, is the venue’s most intimate ballroom for galas and banquets up to 250. Plenty of breakouts too. The 20 Magnolia Conference Rooms can be configured in sizes from 380-5,600 sf. And the Delta Island Conference Rooms overlooking the Courtyard offer exclusive space for 12-160 people. As for the renovations, the Cascade lobby and atrium have been redesigned with a new VIP check-in area creating a more streamlined registration process for groups, which opens to a large atrium with lush vegetation and tall trees, gushing waterfalls and an indoor lake—a veritable miniature rainforest. Other new features include five new dining establishments: Ravello, Solario, The Falls, Conservatory Bar and Cocoa Bean; redesigned and renovated guestrooms in Magnolia (which were not damaged by floodwaters); new presidential suites and more entertainment options with high-energy country and rock music in the FUSE nightclub.