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Conference to Meet in Music City

I’m not sure where Nashville songwriters find the inspiration for their heartaches and hard times, but they aren’t getting it from the city itself. Nashville is driving a stake through the heart of all those cliched Southern stereotypes. The biggest heartache in Nashville these days comes from not getting into your favorite restaurant. This town is as hot as the stars who call it home.

Just when you thought the iconic music mecca couldn’t get any more press, Condé Nast named it one of the five best places in the world to go. They didn’t name it one of the five best places to go in the South or even one of the five best places to go in America.

Condé Nast said Nashville is one of the five best places to go on the entire globe. The other places the leading-edge travel authority honored in that group for 2013 were destination rock stars like Amsterdam, Seoul, New Orleans and Toronto.

Bon Appétit recently called the city the “coolest, tastiest city in the South” and Rolling Stone named it the city with the best local music scene in America in 2011.

The great news for our readers is that Nashville is hosting the upcoming Select Traveler Conference, February 8-10. The Select Traveler Conference is designed to bring the country’s top-tier travel programs together with top-tier travel destinations and companies, so why not meet in one of the world’s top-tier cities? Why not meet in downtown Nashville, where the entertainment vibe is so strong it leaves you wondering what to do next?


Hosts Are Excited

“Your Select Traveler Conference delegates will be in a great location downtown to take advantage of all the action,” said Laurel Bennett, director of tourism sales for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation. “From the Renaissance Hotel, they can walk to all the honky-tonks on Broadway, to the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the new Johnny Cash Museum that opened last summer.”

I’ve been to Nashville too many times to count, and I spent a few days and nights there on two occasions last year. On both those trips, I stayed downtown at the new Omni Nashville Hotel, adjacent to the city’s dazzling new convention facility, the Music City Center, which spreads for acres on Demonbreun Street, a block off Broadway.

If you have not been to Nashville in the past five years or so, you will be astounded at the changes that have taken place in the city’s inner core. Sports complexes, restaurants, bars and hotels create an entertainment district downtown that might go on forever if it didn’t run headlong into the Cumberland River.

“The new Music City Center and adjacent Omni Nashville opened late last year, and the Country Music Hall of Fame opened a huge expansion this March. They added 210,000 square feet of exhibit space and now have more than 350,000 square feet in total,” said Bennett. “The Johnny Cash Museum opened last summer and has the largest collection of his memorabilia in the world.”


Opry, Anyone?

“I’ve got some great news for real country music fans that may be coming for the conference,” said Bennett. “In February, the Grand Ole Opry will be doing Friday and Saturday night shows at the Opry House on both weekends on either side of your conference. So your delegates that want to come in early or stay over can attend the Grand Ole Opry shows on those weekend nights.”

Bennett said that anyone interested should get on the Opry’s website to see who’s playing on those dates because some dates sell out, but others can accommodate walk-up business.

“Others may want to try and catch a show at the Ryman, which is still considered to have some of the very best acoustics of any venue in the world,” said Bennett. The Ryman is a favorite venue for many musicians beyond just country music, so it’s worth a look before you come. Select Traveler delegates who want to check for any acts that might be playing at the Ryman, known affectionately as the “mother church” of country music, should visit the venue’s website.