The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-do. countrymusichalloffame.com
The 137 room Union Station - AWyndham Historic Hotel has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation after being purchased by its new owners. The downtown property, housed within a landmark 100-year-old railway station, revamped all of the guest rooms (including the addition of plasma TVs to each), restored its lobby and spruced up the exterior. Union Station has approximately 12,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 3,000-square-foot Louisville & Nashville Room.
The initial phase of Nashville International Airport's interior renovation was completed this past January. The project began in 2006 and has resulted in more than 30 new food-and-beverage outlets and shops, as well as a central security checkpoint and new flight information displays. Further phases will include new carpeting, a restroom renovation, elevator upgrades and more.
The 194-room Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt opened this past May. The property offers 6,000 square feet of function space and the Great American Grill restaurant.
Nashville's second Hotel Indigo will open in the 82-year-old American Trust building in January, itself the subject of a recent renovation. The downtown boutique hotel will feature 96 guest rooms.
The 673-room Renaissance Nashville Hotel recently completed a top-to-bottom renovation of all its meeting rooms and the lobby, which was redesigned as a "great room" complete with a Starbucks. The new Bridge Entertainment Bistro also opened, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Renaissance has 31,000 square feet of meeting space.
A new 113-room Holiday Inn Express opened directly across from the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Nashville in June. The hotel, which is one of Holiday Inn's "new-look" properties, features four meeting rooms with approximately 1,625 square feet of space.
Market Center Management is developing an international medical trade center in Nashville. Likely to open sometime in 2010, the facility will cover approximately 1.5 million square feet and will include permanent manufacturer showrooms, temporary trade show space and conference facilities.
Meeting Hotels: There are approximately 3,000 hotel rooms available within Nashville's bustling downtown district. Properties include the 2,881-room Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Nashville, 673-room Renaissance Nashville Hotel, 474-room Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, 410-room Sheraton Music City Hotel Nashville, 392-room Nashville Airport Marriott, 382-room Holiday Inn Select Opryland–Airport, 340-room Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, 337-room Doubletree Hotel Nashville, 330-room Hilton Nashville Downtown, 303-room Radisson Hotel at Opryland, 301-room Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University, 296-room Embassy Suites Nashville - Airport, 287-room Millennium Maxwell House Hotel–Nashville, 248-room Hutton Hotel, 200-room Hotel Preston, 137-room Union Station - A Wyndham Historic Hotel and 122-room Hermitage Hotel (which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010).
Convention Center: Nashville Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 118,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 25; (615) 742-2000; nashvilleconventionctr.com
Airport Transit: Nashville International Airport, about eight miles east of downtown Nashville. Transfer cost by taxi, $22; by shuttle, $12
Taxes: Room tax, 6%; sales tax, 9.25%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15.25%, plus an additional $2.50 flat tax per room, per night
Large Group Venue: Home to the Grand Old Opry from 1943 to 1974, the historic Ryman Auditorium -- known as the "Mother Church of Country Music" -- originally was built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, an actual church, in 1892. After the departure of the Opry, the Ryman lay fallow for 20 years, until a renovation in 1994. Today, this National Historic Landmark is owned by Gaylord Entertainment and serves as one of Nashville's premier performance halls and event venues, as well as a museum of country-music history. The Ryman has a number of different event setups: The stage itself can accommodate up to 120 people for a seated dinner, or 180 for a reception. The upper lobby is large enough for a 100-person dinner or 125-person reception, and the 5th Avenue Vestibule can accommodate 75 for a reception. The auditorium itself has 2,362 seats, all of which can be used for a large-group presentation. (615) 458-8700; ryman.com
Small Group Venue: Nashville's Bluebird Cafe, which opened as a restaurant in 1982, has launched many an artist's music career with its enforced quiet "listening room" (the café says that "Shh!" has become its slogan). Among the performers who made an early splash here are Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift. The Bluebird can be rented by private groups of up to 100 people. Catering can be provided in-house (the eatery serves a casual Southern American menu) or brought in from outside. For an even more memorable Nashville experience, a private concert of three to four artists can be put on for your group, including a meet-and-greet with the performers following the show. (615) 383-1461; bluebirdcafe.com
CVB Services: Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 657-6910; visitmusiccity.com