Industry NewsBrandsHelping Guests Celebrate (and Relax) Over the Holidays

Helping Guests Celebrate (and Relax) Over the Holidays

The holiday season is a joyful, family-filled time, but preparing for festivities can oftentimes be a pain. Chores like cooking, cleaning, and decorating can be frustrating additions to any holiday to-do list. Getting away from the stress for a memorable adventure can be the pick-me-up any holiday planner needs.

Gaylord Hotels is among the hospitality companies helping guests celebrate and relax during the season with Christmastime at Gaylord Hotels, featuring holiday displays equipped with hands-on events for every family member. Sharon Lockwood, hotel manager for Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington D.C., finds the celebrations can relieve the holiday stress. “A lot of us get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and we put things over emotions. What I saw last year was families connecting, and it was really about people taking a breath and being able to experience what Christmas is all about,” Lockwood says.

While events run between November 18 and January 1, planning for the 2017 celebrations began on January 2. All operational teams at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center come together to collaborate and diligently address little details throughout the year. Lockwood says, “Every department in the resort is equally involved in making sure that this space is magical. From food and beverage to the front office to housekeeping, everybody is involved. We’ve had numerous meetings to make sure we live up to expectations.”

Gaylord National Resort-Ice Skating

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s Atrium is filled with celebrations. Christmas on the Potomac, the main event, features an ICE! display, an attraction with colorful ice sculptures kept at 9 degrees. The 2017 holiday celebrations will feature 12 sculptures depicting scenes from the television adaption of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Last year, the show had 9 scenes from Christmas around the world.

A Christmas Village is created around the Atrium, with ice skating, gingerbread baking, and more for children and adults alike. A 55 ft. Christmas tree is the centerpiece for JOY, a show meant to remind guests of personal Christmas traditions. Other attractions include an adult-only mixology class, holiday-themed restaurant menus, and a large gingerbread display.

Christmas events have been running for 10 years at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at other Gaylord Hotels across the country. This enables returning guests to see different attractions at the same hotel year after year. In 2016, the Rudolph ICE! exhibit was in Nashville. “My words don’t express it and even pictures don’t. You just can’t put words to it. It takes you to another time and place,” Lockwood says.

Lockwood noticed last year that guests only used their phones for photos. The attractions get guests to come together for memories rather than exploring the Internet or texting friends. In today’s technologically centric environment, it’s difficult to get people focused on what’s in front of them rather than what’s on a cell phone screen. Lockwood says, “When I was walking through the Village and the Atrium, I didn’t see a lot of people on their phones. I saw a lot of people talking, connecting, and laughing. I see them using their phones to capture the moment opposed to taking time to do something different.”

Group holiday packages at restaurants, pricing for attractions, and event space for corporate holiday parties are available through the celebration’s run dates. Gaylord Hotels also offers other seasonal experiences at hotels around the world.

Robin McLaughlin
Robin McLaughlin
Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.