The New Nashville
The new $17 million renovation at the 340-room Nashville Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Tennessee steers clear of the hokey, bright-light clichés that are often associated with Music City and embraces Nashville’s more sophisticated side.
The city’s history with music is still part of the decor but incorporated in a much more refined way. A vintage amp, for instance, is used as a sign that hangs over the Mason Bar, and a mural of Hank Williams—made up of small record albums—also pays homage to an area musical great.
“We worked really hard to make sure that everything we did was authentic and true to what Nashville is,” says Mary Hammet, director of sales/marketing at the hotel. “With this new design we were focusing on what Nashville is really about and embracing some of that Southern charm. It’s definitely more subtly done—not the sparkle and the glitz. It’s a new modern Nashville that [focuses on] what the city is really about but what people are just starting to know.”
The design of the new Mason’s restaurant and Mason Bar focus on a more reserved South as well, complete with a Mason jar chandelier hanging over the bar, Mason jar walls and cowhide leather chairs. Plus, the bar itself has a rustic feel that the Simeone Deary Design Group wanted to exemplify “whiskey drinking and guitar strumming on porches,” Hammet says. The staff also worked with local designers on the servers’ attire—jeans, ties and vests—to “support artisans in the South that have a great story,” Hammet says.
Traditional Southern comfort food with what Hammet calls a “European-French” flare is the restaurant’s specialty. Groups can taste menu favorites such as the grilled peach salad and shrimp and grits in the private dining room, which has a long farm table that seats 12 to 14. The restaurant also features two big communal tables that can be combined for groups of 20 to 25.
One of the biggest changes for the property is the new lobby concept, in which guests can plug-in and “feel comfortable doing business in the lobby,” Hammet says. The communal spaces amid the 24,000 sf of meeting space are also set up to encourage smaller gatherings and conversations, and are highlighted by additional, modest Music City art.
In addition to the Loews renovation, other new hotels are opening up in Nashville, including an Omni in October as well as the Marriott and Hyatt properties that just announced openings. “We’ve seen a lot of new competitors coming in, so I think it will help us overall attract a broader scope of meetings,” Hammet says. “[Nashville has] gotten a lot of accolades in the press and it’s continuing. It’s something that’s sustainable.”