The Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, offers participants in the Society for American Archaeology 62nd Annual Meeting a refreshing change. Gone is the traditional conference venue of a skyscraping tower of glass and steel. In its place is a spectacular low-lying homage to past and present southern architecture: the Opryland Hotel Convention Center. The world's largest convention center in a hotel--with 2,870 guest rooms and more than 600,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space--is clearly designed for gathering. Everywhere you'll find informal and comfortable space meant for sitting, chatting, talking, and meeting.
The hotel and center, only seven minutes from the airport, include 15-story glass domes. Features of the Delta, Conservatory, and Cascades sections, the domes enclose more than 10 acres of spectacular indoor gardens, hundreds of trees, a river (with boat rides), many waterfalls (the largest 110-feet wide), and an 85-foot fountain. You may be inside but you'll always feel as if you are outdoors in these areas, which include meandering pathways, nature walks, and more. Next to and within these gardens, SAA meeting attendees will find many restaurants (ranging from an upscale food court to Beauregard's, a 20,000-square-foot antebellum style mansion with seating for 400), numerous lounges (including the Jack Daniel's Saloon for sampling a famous local product), 31 retail shops, a full exercise facility, three pools, and top-notch entertainment for all ages.
In addition, the hotel is adjacent to the Opryland musical themepark (featuring live shows, performances, and exciting rides on the weekend we'll be there), the General Jackson Showboat, the 18-hole championship Springhouse Golf Club (home of the Bellsouth Senior Classic), and seven-mile river taxi rides linking Opryland with downtown Nashville. Participants will be able to take advantage of discounted tickets for the themepark.
Of course, the Grand Ole Opry itself is also nearby and offers performances on Friday and Saturday evenings.
This world-class hotel setting, 600 miles from 50 percent of the U.S. population, offers us a chance to make the SAA 62nd Annual Meeting one of our most enjoyable in recent years--both in and outside the conference sessions.
David G. Anderson of the National Park Service is chairman of the 62nd Annual Meeting and Kevin E. Smith of Middle Tennessee State University is head of the local advisory committee for the meeting.