Making The Opryland Grander

Arthur Keith builds a brand while looking to increase black participation in hospitality

Arthur Keith, 44, senior vice president and general manager of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is on a mission. The objective is twofold: make the property the premier resort and industry leader and expose African Americans to the opportunities within the hotel industry.

Opryland is the 17th largest resort in the world, and Keith is the only African American running a resort of its size. He has played a significant role in improving the performance of the resort in just two years. Revenues in 2004 were $208.41 million, down 3.2% from 2003. In 2005, however, revenues jumped by 14.4% to $238.5 million.

In addition to building on the property’s musical heritage to attract more conferences and conventions, Keith wants to show people of color that they can be successful in the hospitality industry. “Hospitality is absolutely the industry for talented people of color with the available skills,” Keith says. “In Europe, a hotelier is seen as prestigious, but in our country, it is not viewed as a true profession.”

The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center features 2,881 guest rooms and 600,000 square feet of meeting, convention, and exhibit space, as well as the General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Links, and Wildhorse Saloon.

Keith joined Opryland in February 2004 from Harrah’s, where he was vice president of hotel operations for the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A graduate of Cornell University’s renowned School of Hotel Administration, Keith began his career at Stouffer Renaissance Hotel Co. as a management trainee and rose to become assistant general manager of the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, one of the chain’s largest hotels.

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