by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | May 10, 2017

There's a new sheriff in Nashville, and this one doesn't pack a pistol, ride a horse or even have a decent pair of cowboy boots. Meet the newly renovated 482-room Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown, whose extensive $35 million renovation has elevated it to “Grand” status within the Sheraton brand. And, considering that there are currently only five properties in the United States with that brand distinction, Music City just added some serious swagger.

The design muscle behind the renovation of the 28-story property was New York-based Anna Busta, the creative powerhouse behind projects such as the W South Beach and the Viceroy, two Miami Beach hot spots, as well as last year's redesign of all guest rooms for the 222-room boutique Kimpton ink48 Hotel in New York City.

Of course, when Los Angeles-based JRK Property Holdings, owners of the newly renovated Nashville property, asked The Hotel Insider to attend their unveiling bash, I didn't think twice. Sweetening the invite? A private performance by legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. Need I say more?

As large-scale makeovers go, this one is a stunner. The soaring lobby has a hanging handblown chandelier, a wooden floating staircase and plenty of plush seating areas placed at just the right angles, so you can spend your downtime gazing up at the glass elevators buzzing up and down. While the hotel has over 30,000 square feet for meetings and events, it's rooftop space, Skye, is what will have meeting planners swooning, and not just because at its center is an enormous aquarium with 150 illuminated jellyfish.

Bobby Lee, president and chief operating officer of JRK Property Holdings, which acquired the property for $47.5 million in 2012, gave me a personal tour of Skye, formerly site of The Pinnacle restaurant. "This used to be a restaurant, but when we were renovating, we knew we didn't want to go that route again," he said. "There was a lot of discussion, and then we realized it would really make an incredible private event space, because there is nowhere like it in Nashville." When I pointed out that other hotels have rooftops, he nodded sagely. "Yes, but they don't have one that is completely enclosed, which means you can use it any time, or 360-degree views.” 

And, what a view it is. From the fishbowl-like space you can see all of downtown Nashville. The Bridgestone Arena, the Country Music Hall of Fame and all the teeming honky tonks on Music Row. Who needs décor or entertainment when you have Music City at your fingertips to keep you engaged, said Tracy Wray, director of sales and marketing for the hotel. "When this space was a restaurant, it was a fixture in this town. Graduations, weddings, birthday parties. We did a lot of events," she noted. "Now that we have redone it as a private event space, it will be a very different type of group offering."

There is possibly even more in store for the newly-minted Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown. "I really think we need a full-service spa,” said Wray. “That's the one thing I would like to see us add.” So would I. Then again, of the five Sheraton Grand properties in the U.S. — in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix and Chandler, Ariz. — only Chandler’s 500-room Sheraton Grand at White Horse Pass features a full-service spa. Something to think about, Sheraton.