Gaylord Palms Resort $50 Million Dollar Renovation 5/1/12

And the Gaylord Palms’ Gift to the Meeting Planner!   5/1/12

The Gaylord Palms makes the best of an unfortunate situation. Results are now apparent.

5/31/12 Update:  I am acknowledging the announcment that Gaylord Entertainment Company agreed to sell the Gaylord Hotels Brand and Management Company to Marriott International.

I was travelling through central Florida when I stopped in last month to see Ellen Reeder, Director of Northeast Sales at the Gaylord Palms Hotel and Convention Center in Kissimmee, FL. This Gaylord Palms is one of my preferred properties and Ellen had invited me to see the new changes made during this Renovation and upgrades that have been in progress since the last time I was there.

It was, as always a delight to be at this resort. It is so well situated next to Disney World® and looking so stately, so well set back from the road, as if making its own grand entrance at 6000 W Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746 (407-586-2000). Walking through the side transportation lobby, I looked for the beautiful birdcage centerpiece in the entrance and began to feel at home again.

This was March 2012. It was nearly 2 years ago when a devastating series of storms descended upon Nashville, TN and the Gaylord Opryland Resort was immediately forced to close for major repairs due to severe water damage.

While Ellen was recapping that unfortunate event, I was most impressed with how the Gaylord Opryland used the damage assessment as “good” information and incorporated many property improvements into what ultimately became a repair and renovation project. The Gaylord also took further advantage of this challenging situation by moving the Gaylord Palms renovation start date (originally slated for Summer 2012) to Spring 2011 in order to get best use of the construction company, DF Chase who now was, in effect, renovating two Gaylord properties; not just one. The Gaylord Palms adjusted their project timeline and began their renovation nearly a year earlier than scheduled and has just completed it – on time!

Gaylord’s Gift to the Meeting Planner

I learned of some smart, creative decisions that were made during the Gaylord Palms renovation. Since telephone booths are no longer needed, the architects now had some unassigned space across from the Osceola Ballroom. Someone had the idea to turn the space into not one but two! Meeting Planner Offices! Thank you!! This eliminates the Meeting Planner’s typical knock-down-drag-out albeit polite fight for the last available small meeting room when blocking meeting space. They are so beautifully thought out. They have everything an ideal planning office would have, i.e. TV, copier, supply space, refrigerator and microwave, internet and last but not least – Wi-Fi.

I have never seen a custom designed meeting planner’s office before. Thank you Gaylord. I would love to see this trending.

I also appreciated the good idea that there are now help-yourself, self-paying coffee stations that can be placed anywhere throughout the hotel meeting areas, meeting foyers, etc. A great convenience for any guest or attendee to use, with no attachments to a group BEO.

Here are just some of the Grand Renovation Projects that I saw – now open and available to the public (or nearly so.)

What is NEW!

Coquina Lawn – a 10,000 sq. ft open space ideal for outside events, receptions, weddings. Tenting is available. The Lawn is surrounded by several open firepits with comfortable, placed furniture for small groups or just lounging.

Swimming Pools – The Gaylord Palms now has two pools – the lovely, quiet Adults Only South Beach Pool with refreshments right there and a new family pool for kids still under construction. I saw the drawings for the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park – and it truly will live up to its name. Really awesome. I understand DreamWorks is involved.

Wreckers Sports Bar – a two story restaurant with a multi-level video screen and dance floor. It is on the way to the Convention Center – the perfect location.

The new Guest Rooms are gorgeous – every one of them has been redone. Everything is fresh and updated, whether it was the soft, crisp bedding, the flat screen technology or the perfect easy chair. A very comfortable living space, designed with lovely neutral colors.

I was also glad to see that the old haunts like the Villa de Flora (breakfast as good as ever), and the Old Hickory Steakhouse are doing fine and that the shops in Market Square are just as tempting as ever.

I didn’t get to tell you about everything – but do note that Shrek is in residence and that the Relâche Spa & Salon and the Relâche Fitness Center are both very new and improved.

As Ellen took me through the newly renovated hallways in the guest room sections she pointed out the new carpet and décor. She said that while planning the renovation, the Gaylord paid close attention to guest feedback they had received which helped during the decision making. They learned what the guests enjoy while staying at the Gaylord Palms, what they wanted to have more or less of and what their tastes are. This reminded me again of the extraordinary expediency that was required and demonstrated by the Gaylord as they prepared their accelerated renovation schedule.

Thank you, Ellen, for the Grand Tour. I look forward to when I next return to the Gaylord Palms and do hope to get to know the other Gaylord properties sometime soon.