In­tro­duc­ing: Ten­nessee

The launch this spring of non-stop transat­lantic flights will open up Ten­nessee to UK vis­i­tors like never be­fore. Pe­ter Ellegard ex­plores the Vol­un­teer State's ap­peal

Selling Travel - - Contents -

Ten­nessee is set to en­joy a huge boost from Bri­tish Air­ways’ new flights from Lon­don to Nashville. The ser­vice, which will op­er­ate from Heathrow’s Ter­mi­nal 5 five days a week us­ing a Boe­ing 787-8 Dream­liner, co­in­cides with the Brand USA 2018 Me­gaFam.

The fam will see 100 UK and Ir­ish agents come to­gether in Nashville for the fi­nale event af­ter trav­el­ling across the U.S. on seven dif­fer­ent itin­er­ar­ies. The agents will then fly back on the in­au­gu­ral east­bound flight on May 4.

Prior to that, a Ten­nessee UK sales mis­sion will in­clude three re­cep­tions for agents, in Glas­gow (April 24), Manch­ester (April 25) and Lon­don (April 26).

The UK is al­ready Nashville’s big­gest over­seas mar­ket and the new non-stop ser­vice is ex­pected to boost UK vis­i­tor num­bers by 36% this year and a fur­ther 18% in 2019, with the to­tal pre­dicted to dou­ble that of 2016 by 2025 – pro­vid­ing a fil­lip for the rest of the state as well.

Mu­si­cal roots

Mu­sic is the main at­trac­tion for many UK vis­i­tors to Ten­nessee. The state rocks from its west­ern bor­der with Arkansas, formed by the me­an­der­ing Mis­sis­sippi, to the Ap­palachian Moun­tains bor­der­ing North Carolina in the east. Take your pick from blues to coun­try and a host of other mu­sic gen­res.

Nashville sits in the mid­dle and its fa­mous mu­sic joints in­clude the Grand Ole Opry (opry.com), fea­tur­ing up to eight acts in each per­for­mance, and the Ry­man Au­di­to­rium (ry­man.com), known as the ‘Mother Church of Coun­try Mu­sic’ and re­garded as the birth­place of blue­grass. The city’s Mu­sic Row dis­trict also in­cor­po­rates the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame and Mu­seum and Nashville’s new Plaza Mari­achi Mu­sic City (plaza­mari­achi.com), 10 min­utes from down­town, fea­tures shops, eater­ies and Latin-in­fused en­ter­tain­ment and cul­ture.

Mem­phis, in the far south-west­ern cor­ner of Ten­nessee, has Beale Street (bealestreet.com) for mu­sic lovers. Des­ig­nated the ‘Home of Blues’ by an Act of Con­gress, this his­toric dis­trict en­com­passes more than two dozen clubs, cafes and restau­rants along the fa­mous stretch and ad­ja­cent roads, with live mu­sic mostly li­censed un­til 03.00 but it can stay open as late as 05.00.

Elvis Pres­ley’s Grace­land (grace­land.com) man­sion in Mem­phis re­mains a strong draw for his global le­gion of fans, who can stay at the 450-room Guest House at Grace­land (guest­house­g­race­land.com), which fea­tures themed suites and a live per­for­mance the­atre.

In east­ern Ten­nessee, sub­ter­ranean con­cert se­ries Blue­grass Un­der­ground has a new home in The Cav­erns (the­cav­erns.com), within the base of Mon­tea­gle Moun­tain and 45 min­utes from Chat­tanooga.

“The ex­cit­ing news for Nashville is the new Bri­tish Air­ways ser­vice. We are thrilled to be host­ing the Brand USA Me­gaFam fi­nale - agents can ex­pect lots of live mu­sic!” Lau­rel Ben­nett, Tourism Sales VP, Nashville CVC

New trails

This sum­mer will see the launch of Ten­nessee Mu­sic Path­way, an ini­tia­tive that will link many mu­sic-cen­tred at­trac­tions, both in small towns and big cities, through­out the state.

It fol­lows on from the suc­cess­ful Ten­nessee Whiskey Trail (tnwhiskey­trail.com), span­ning 30 dis­til­leries state-wide and launched last June, and the Ten­nessee Civil War Trails, with routes link­ing sites and events high­lighted by in­ter­pre­tive mark­ers. Ten­nessee land­marks also fea­ture on the new US Civil Rights Trail that launched in Jan­uary across 14 states. They in­clude the Lor­raine Mo­tel where Martin Luther King Jr was as­sas­si­nated and the Na­tional Civil Rights Mu­seum, both in Mem­phis.

Track record

There’s plenty more for vis­i­tors to en­joy in Ten­nessee – whether it is more en­ter­tain­ment they crave, dis­cov­er­ing na­ture’s won­ders in Amer­ica’s most-vis­ited na­tional park, the Great Smoky Moun­tains Na­tional Park or ex­plor­ing roads less trav­elled to find hid­den charms.

Rail buffs can get steamed up by stay­ing at the Chat­tanooga Choo Choo His­toric Ho­tel (choo­choo.com), with its Vic­to­rian Train

Car ho­tel rooms in down­town Chat­tanooga, while the Look­out Moun­tain In­cline Rail­way (look­out­moun­tain.com) is one of Amer­ica’s most spec­tac­u­lar rail trips.

Great Rail Jour­neys (greatrail.com) has a new, 14-day Tracks of the Deep South tour priced from £3,295pp that in­cludes sev­eral Ten­nessee high­lights, among them Chat­tanooga’s rail­roads, the Jack Daniel’s Dis­tillery in Lynch­burg and Grace­land.

And for those who want to get away from it all, a drive along the Top Se­cret Trail takes in the stun­ning scenery of east­ern Ten­nessee from Knoxville into the Up­per Cum­ber­land Plateau and Ap­palachian foothills, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the area’s cul­ture and sam­pling home cook­ing. Or they can lose them­selves in the vast Great

Smoky Moun­tains park, ac­cessed via Gatlin­burg and Pi­geon Forge.

Where to book it

In­sight Va­ca­tions sis­ter brand Lux­ury Gold’s nine-day South­ern Grace itin­er­ary, tak­ing clients from Nashville to New Or­leans, costs from £3,895pp and in­cludes re­turn flights from Lon­don, lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion, break­fasts and some other meals.

Guests will en­joy an af­ter-hours tour of Grace­land hosted by Ge­orge Klein, a long-time friend of Elvis, fol­lowed by a South­ern buf­fet served amidst the King’s car col­lec­tion. in­sightlux­u­ry­gold.com

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