TN Travel Guide
Lace up your blue suede shoes because you might get all shook up by this news – looks like Graceland is going to get a huge new hotel.
Elvis Presley Enterprises, the King’s estate, has received approval for a 450-room hotel to take up a whopping 24 acres of land just north of Graceland, on the same side of Elvis Presley Blvd.
The Guesthouse at Graceland is tentatively scheduled for a August 2015 opening – just in time for the 38th anniversary of Elvis’
so-called death on August 16.
Local architects Hnedak Bobo Group is in charge of the $70m project, and behind the cutesy-looking façade with its Graceland-Grecian-style façade (white columns, black shutters) will be a restaurant, sports bar, exhibition building, theater and meeting/event space. Hopefully “sports bar” is code for “Elvis impersonator bar” – the idea of going to Graceland to hang out in a sports bar is properly Heartbreak Hotel. (Speaking of the actual Heartbreak Hotel, currently the nearest hotel to Graceland, according to Memphis Daily News reporter Bill Dries, the estate will close this once the Guesthouse opens.)
The Virgin Hotel in Nashville, which is set to open at One Music Row in 2016, has not even been built yet but is already suffering from some ED issues--Ex-Developer issues.
The Tennessean reports that developer David Chase, executive vice president of D.F. Chase Inc. and the lead developer behind the Virgin Hotel, was arrested last week for twice assaulting his girlfriend. In one day. Chase faces charges of aggravated assault by strangulation, vandalism and interference with a 911 call.
The investors behind the Virgin project are now trying to figure out how to get Chase to "step aside" but his ownership stake in the lot where the hotel will go up has complicated matters. Still, a Virgin spokesperson gave this statement to the Tennessean: "We are aware of the situation and while we cannot comment on a pending investigation, we have no tolerance for domestic violence."
Meanwhile, construction on the hotel was to start this summer but that could be delayed until a new developer is found.
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
It's not just high-flying Virgins that are headed to Nashville, but museum lovers too.
According to Tennessean, a landmark building in Downtown Nashville has been sold at auction to 21c Museum Hotels. It must have been meant to be, as it was reportedly the 21st bid (of $6.8 million) that won the luxury boutique hotel and restaurant group its new Nashville digs.
This will be the 5th hotel following Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville and Durham (due to open in early 2015.) The hotel group also plans to expand into Lexington; in an historic bank designed by McKim Mead and White; Oklahoma City, in a former Ford Model T plant, and Kansas City; in a redevelopment of the Savoy Hotel and Grill. Each of these future hotels sound so great we had to mention them.
The Nashville property, located at 222 Third Avenue North, dates to the 1890s and is a registered national landmark. It was most recently used as office space and will need some work to convert it to a luxury boutique hotel. But taking on an historic building and bringing out its character are what make the 21c Hotels so appealing. With the exception of Bentonville, which is a new build, each of the 21c hotels was uniquely developed as an adpative reuse.
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You can probably thank Taylor Swift for the latest announcement from Virgin Hotels. The burgeoning hotel brand has just revealed they will open a new hotel in Nashville in 2016 in a pretty prime location--One Music Row.
Virgin Hotels Nashville will have 240 guest rooms, multiple "concept" suites, along with food and beverage outlets and perhaps most necessary of all, a cutting edge recording studio.
“Based on its nonstop cultural and live events, food and beverage scene, and its ability to inspire both talented artists and TV viewers, Nashville’s time is now – and we’d like to be part of that excitement,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Virgin Hotels will be our first venture in Nashville, and we’ll look at other opportunities for our US and international customers to enjoy the southern hospitality that Nashville is known for.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Hotels Chicago is apparently just "months away from opening" according to Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. After that, Virgin has its eyes set on NYC, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, San Fran, DC and London.
We don't think we need to say it again but it bears repeating, "Hurry up because we can't hardly wait."
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
The historic Farragut Building in Knoxville, Tennesee, may be reverted back to its original use as a popular downtown hotel. The Beaux Arts building, constructed in 1919, was the original home of The Farragut Hotel, replacing an earlier hotel on the same site. Northern California-based Halo Hospitality Group has stepped forward with a proposal to convert the building to a 190-room full service hotel.
The hotel’s location, at 530 South Gay Street, sits within a larger historic district in Downtown Knoxville that is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places. The Farragut Hotel was named after Navy Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, a Tennessee native whose 60+ year naval career began when he was nine-years old (so says Wikipiedia. Guess they didn't have any age restrictions back then. Regarded as a hero many times over, why not have a hotel in his honor?
Local news archives say the hotel has hosted some pretty important guests over the years from Babe Ruth to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Halo Hospitality has made it clear they wish to restore the hotel to its former glory which is great news for Knoxville locals and visitors alike.
Dolly Parton already has a rather successful theme park in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee called, Dollywood, but what she doesn't have is a resort to go along with it. However, that may change in a few years as the busty country singer is working on a $300 million resort idea called DreamMore.
Parton said the resort will be adjacent to the park and will start with 300 rooms. It will also be family-friendly featuring front porch spaces, a fishing pond for children to go fishing and fire pits for roasting marshmallows. Guests will be greeted with lemonade in the summer months and hot chocolate in the winter months. And of course, every theme park resort needs a massive pool area and DreamMore is no exception with both indoor and outdoor pools.
We aren't sure if the guest room beds will feature Dolly Parton blankets but you will be able to stay in Dolly's Suite Dreams, a "celebrity" suite on the top floor of the resort.
If all goes well, DreamMore resort, which is under construction now, should open by Summer of 2015. Yee-haw!
While Hotel Indigo has been making great strides internationally--the just-opened Hotel Indigo Hong Kong and its dragon-wrapped exterior recently won an award for best hotel architecture--the brand is still growing here in the U.S., with a third Chicago hotel coming next year and at least another 20 hotels in the pipeline. Yet there are still so many existing Hotel Indigos to explore, like the Hotel Indigo Nashville which just finished an ultra-cool renovations.
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. Since that day, the hotel has found new life as the National Civil Rights Museum, an impressive collection of photographs, videos and written accounts chronicling the history of the civil rights movement.
As historic hotels go, they don't come much more important than this place. And now the museum is adding to its repertoire.
Though room 306 has always been open to visitors (everything, from the furniture, curtains, carpet, rotary telephone and current newspaper, has been recreated to make the room look exactly the way it did when Dr. King stayed there), that was as far as they could go. Which is still quite a profound experience, given how much time Dr. King spent in that particular room (he was no stranger to the motel—in fact, room 306 was nicknamed the King-Abernathy Suite in his honor, after so many repeat stays).
While most of us equate Nashville with Justin Timberlake (what, you don’t?) and a ridiculous rib scene, after today, it’s now going to be associated as the city where Olympic gold medalist (and hey, budding actor!) Shaun White showed his behind.
According to a TMZ report, the athlete got drunk Sunday in a hotel, which has now been identified in the Tennessean as the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and "trashed" it. However, reports are conflicting. The newspaper only says White broke a phone. Nonetheless, upon hearing the ruckus the ginger-haired snowboarder was causing, hotel staff confronted him. He then allegedly pulled fire alarms,tried to kick someone, and then split his head on a fence while trying to run away from the scene. Soooo, no one can confuse him with Usain Bolt, that's for sure.
White has been arrested for public intoxication and vandalism of $500 or less. He has received treatment in a Nashville hospital where he was just released. He's reportedly refused to sign a misdemeanor citation.
Of course, we'll be following this news, if only to find out the well-being of one fine hotel!
Most travelers who've been to Gatlinburg, TN would agree that it's not exactly a hot spot for luxury hotels...or for much at all now that the 1960s and '70s have passed. And isn't that a good thing? Judging from the sort of average roadside motels that used to host Smoky Mountain tourists in the area's heyday, it sure is.
We recently came across an old postcard from the era, of the Watson's Motel. Watson's was (or maybe still is) a one-story motel with 54 rooms, 21 with kitchenettes and fireplaces, and "some with Color TV."
Curious to see inside a room? Here ya go:
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Ahhh...we all remember what it's like to be young and in love on a cross-country road-trip staying in a different hotel each night. Or maybe not. For those of you who never got the chance to drive across America after college, we've got a special Summer Road Trip series from Teddy Worcester, a recent Wheaton College grad who's making his way out to San Fran for a job in tech. Along the way, he's hitting up about six hotels and reporting back to us on each one. So grab your iced beverage of choice, settle into your lawn chair and let the sprinkler run.
After another 10 hours on the road filled with torrential downpours and hundreds of miles of Virginia and Tennessee farmland, we pulled into Nashville. We went directly to the Sheraton Downtown Hotel where we stayed for the night.
I had reserved the hotel weeks ago through my Starwood Preferred Guest account with the cash and points option, which set me back $45 and 2,800 Starwood points. The room regularly books for $179 ($208.80 total with tax).
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Hotel owners, take note: when you're trying to build credibility for your brand, it might not be a good idea to let over eight years' worth of god awful customer reviews pile up on your TripAdvisor page without taking action. Kenneth Seaton, owner of Pigeon Forge Grand Resort Hotel in Tennessee, is suing TripAdvisor for $10 million for placing him smack at the top of their Dirtiest Hotels 2011 list, citing 87% percent of reviewers gave the place a thumbs down.
According to The Mountain Press, Seaton's lawyers are referencing "flawed" rating systems that "distort" the actual performance of the hotel—further, they accuse TripAdvisor of "contriving...to cause respected customers to lose confidence" in the hotel.
Um, right. We bet all of those "respected customers" were just clamoring to stay another night here after browsing through the pre-existing reviews and photos. Roaches in the door frame? No thanks.