There are five Gaylord resorts in the United States in the following locations: Nashville; Kissimmee, Florida; Aurora, Colo.; Grapevine, Texas; and National Harbor, Maryland.
As you might suspect, they have the guest rooms, pools, and fitness center you would find at any other hotel, plus a host of extras you only get at Gaylord properties. That’s because Gaylord Resorts are so much more than stereotypical hotels. You are an experience.
Each resort is a destination unto itself, so much so that for dining, celebrations and fun, you don’t need to venture outside the resort. However, there are some things you should know before you go so you can make the most of your visit and save a little money in the process.
Here are six tips to keep in mind when planning a stay at a Gaylord resort.
It’s more than a hotel: it’s a destination
Gaylord Resorts are designed to celebrate the culture, heritage and natural scenery of the parts of the country in which they are located.
For example, near Walt Disney World at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, you can observe local flora and fauna – including alligators – in the resort’s 11-acre glass atrium and dine on fresh seafood in a life-size sailboat. Meanwhile, at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, the huge atrium houses replicas of Lone Star State landmarks like the Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk.
Each resort has different themes, but one thing all resorts have in common is that you can spend hours strolling the winding pathways in the atriums while exploring the caves, waterfalls, and gardens.
There is also so much shopping, dining and entertainment in and around these distinctive atriums that you may forget to leave the hotel during your stay. Each Gaylord resort has several restaurants, including pizzerias for casual dining, sports bars where you can grab a bite to eat while watching the big games, and fine dining for date nights. You can also get your morning caffeine boost at the onsite Cocoa Bean Coffee Shop, which serves a full Starbucks menu.
Between meals, you can shop for souvenirs with local flair, visit the full-service spa, go for a swim at the water park, or participate in seasonal vacation activities.
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You can book (or earn) with Marriott Bonvoy points.
Gaylord hotels are branded under Marriott and therefore participate in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. This means you can earn and redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for stays at any Gaylord hotel.
Just like paying cash, point prices vary by date and room type. In general, Gaylord hotel rates start at around $300 or 40,000 points per night. You can sometimes find rates closer to $200 or 32,000 points per night if your dates are flexible, but nightly rates can go over $500 or 60,000 points on holidays and special occasions.
Marriott Bonvoy members also receive other benefits at Gaylord hotels. Silver Elite members and above receive a points bonus and late check-out, and Gold Elite members and above also receive a complimentary room upgrade (subject to availability). When stopping by during one of Gaylord’s seasonal events, Marriott Bonvoy members often have access to exclusive offers that include bonus points and room and ticket discounts.
See also: The Complete Guide to Earning Marriott Elite Status with Credit Cards
A minimum of 10 qualifying stays per year are required to earn Marriott Elite status, but you can quickly track your path to Marriott Elite status to enjoy some of the benefits above by owning certain cards. For example, cards like the American Express Platinum Card® and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card automatically earn you Gold Elite status (registration required).
Rooms overlooking the atrium are worth the extra cost
Most Gaylord Hotels have rooms with balconies overlooking the atria. The only exception is the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, which offers select mountain view rooms instead. You must reserve an atrium view room at the time of booking to ensure you wake up to a view of the tranquil inner gardens below.
Atrium view rooms typically cost between $70 and $100 more per night than a standard view room, but that’s where the free room upgrade for members with at least Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status comes into play.
There’s no guarantee an upgrade will be available, but if you’re willing to take the risk, you can book a Standard View room and cross your fingers and toes for an upgrade to an Atrium View room. It may be helpful to call a day or two before check-in to make the request over the phone and have the customer service representative add a note to your reservation.
There are special offers you can take advantage of
If you’re looking for extra perks or discounted rates, always check the hotel’s website and social media pages for special offers. These offers vary by location and time of year, but you can get discounts of up to 50% on room and special event packages (like Gaylord’s signature holiday event, Ice!).
Also see: Frozen Fun: 7 Tips to Experience Ice Cream! at the Gaylord Hotels for Christmas
Other special offers may include complimentary breakfast, daily resort credit, spa treatments, or water park access (the latter only applies at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, where water park access is not included in the cost of your stay).
Each resort has a year-round water park or pool
Speaking of water parks, every Gaylord resort has its own pool or water park that is open year-round. The Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center and Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center have outdoor water parks, while Gaylord properties that are not located in states where temperatures are conducive to being outdoors during all seasons of the year have indoor Have outdoor water parks or pools that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Related: 12 hotels with the best lazy rivers to beat the heat and drift away
With the exception of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, which only has an indoor pool and outdoor sun deck, Gaylord’s water parks are among the best hotel water parks around. You’ll find big splash structures for kids, lazy rivers, slides, pools and more.
Only the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center has a separate admission fee for visitors, including guests. This resort requires you to book a package that includes entry to the water park to avoid paying when you arrive. Admission to the water park is included in the cost of your stay at every other Gaylord hotel.
Summer and main holidays are particularly fun times to visit
If your schedule allows, you can make the most of your time at a Gaylord hotel by visiting during one of the brand’s seasonal events.
During the winter holiday season, you can build gingerbread houses, take photos with Santa, explore the Christmas trees and decorations in the atrium, and visit a festive walking tour made entirely of ice, aptly named Ice! Halloween heralds plenty of spooky (but kid-friendly) activities, including trick-or-treating and monster dance parties. And around Easter you can meet the Easter Bunny, decorate cookies and take part in a spring-like treasure hunt.
Summer is also a particularly fun time, as the Gaylord properties host a Pirates and Princesses event with adventure-oriented activities for children.
Even if you don’t make it during one of these special events, there’s always a program of activities around the resort like atrium light shows, movie nights, animal encounters and more. You can ask for an activity schedule at the front desk, but you’ll likely find a QR code in the lobby or your guest room with a link to see what’s on the calendar while you’re visiting.
we have shared nearly everything you need to know to plan the perfect Gaylord resort stay, but one thing we can’t offer is the fun. That part is up to you, but luckily Gaylord makes it easy for you with plenty of activities, delicious restaurants, and beautiful scenery. The only thing missing is you.