Back in 1999, I had the opportunity to fly from my home in Southern California to Nashville, TN to attend a conference. The conference was to be held in the Opryland Hotel. I was not adequately prepared for what awaited me.

What lies beneath is a tale of culture shock. It is an illustration of the differences in style, ideas, values and customs that prevade the numerous regions of our great country. It is one man's attempt to put all of these things into perspective by relating those aspects of the Opryland Hotel that I found to be unique, peculiar or simply extrodinary.

  • This is the *only* hotel I've ever been in where I was offered a map when I checked in. The place is huge (its impossible to emphasize enough the degree to which this is true) and confusing. I expect by now they may offer GPS locators to guests. In any case, I know I felt truly lucky every time I set off from point A and actually found point B.

    To contrast, most hotels in Southern California are generally confined to one building, and, for the most part, are very difficult for a person of average intellegince to get lost in.

  • Basically, the place is several multi-story buildings arranged in a circle / polygon all enclosed under a huge glass roof. The area covered by the glass roof is enormous and forms the hotel's attrium. I imagine some rich person had the thought at one point to make a grand experiment in the form of this hotel to ultimately prove or disprove, once and for all, the theory that "bigger is better".

    Hotels in Southern California tend not to have glass roofs (which, in retrospect is curious given all of the sunshine). Attriums in hotels may be large areas, but are also generally not large enough to enclose an entire county fair. In summary, hotels in this area of the country do not reflect some designer's preoccupation with size.

  • This is also the only hotel I've ever been in that seemed to have country music (or any type of music, for that matter) playing in the hallways, elevators and just about anywhere else I went, save for my room, 24 hours a day (Looking back, I imagine I was too scared to even contemplate turning on the radio in my room). Ok, I know its in Nashville, and Nashville does pride itself on music, but this was just a wee bit overdone.

    In Southern California, most of us are scarcely aware of country music. Somewhere in a far and generally unused corner of our minds, there is a vague awareness that country music is very popular in a large swath of the country. We are much more aware that said swath does not encompass Southern California. Living here, I find that unless I'm specifically trying to find country music to listen to, very rarely do I ever hear it.

  • It might be my imagination, but it seemed that every time I turned on the television in my room, it was tuned to The Dukes of Hazard.

    In SoCal, most of us know what the Dukes of Hazard is. Many of us even enjoyed watching it - when it was in its first prime time run. Now, twenty years or so later, we tend to have gained whatever we can gain from it, and are long since ready to move on. Oh sure, occasionaly we'll imitate Roscoe P. Coltrane and his dog Flash, or fondly remember lusting after Daisy Duke, but that's it.

  • Given its size, the environmental control system here is very impressive. Not once when I was indoors here did I detect the slightest bit of the extreme heat and humidity I encountered when I was outside.

    In SoCal, the weather is typically moderate. Occasionaly, mostly during the summer, the heat may get extreme, and sometimes we even have high humidity. But very, very rarely do these both occur at once.

  • This is the only hotel I've ever been in that had boats running through the attrium. It was quite reminiscent of the Small World ride at Disneyland/Disneyworld.

    The closest thing we have to this is Disneyland, which in fact has the Disneyland Hotel. But, there are no rides inside of the Disneyland Hotel. The closest we get is the monorail that stops outside of the hotel and will take you into Disneyland proper.

  • I was overwhelmed by the Southerness of the place - there must be numerous restaraunts in this hotel but in the one I ate at the waitresses were all wearing bonnets and aprons as they served me my fried chicken.

    We do have fried chicken here, but a) it is not a staple of our diet and b) its generally not served to us by women in bonets and aprons.

  • The hotel itself seemed to be a tourist attraction. I met several tourists who had come from hundreds of miles away just to stay at this hotel. I suppose the Opryland Theater being next door might have something to do with this, but it seemed that a lot of the people I met weren't taking their vacation in Nashville, they were taking it at the Opryland Hotel.

    While I'm aware of other hotels that are tourist attractions in this area (i.e. The Beverly Hills Hotel), usually people make it a point to *see* the said hotel while they're on their vacation. They usually don't make it a point to *stay* in said hotel. Go figure. I mean, the place was somewhat nice, and its definetly large, but its most certainly not at the top of my preferred vacation destinations list.