Congratulations to the Big Cypress Lodge inside the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis for being ranked as one of the top 10 best hotels of 2015 by Forbes!
Our city has seen such an increase in tourism and interest around the country from Bass Pro’s venture into the upscale, modern building that used to house the NBA Memphis Grizzlies and a slew of sold out concerts.
It’s exciting to see the continuous national recognition for the Bass Pro shops and the Big Cypress Lodge hotel and what that’ll do for the travel industry in Memphis.
Big Cypress Lodge, Memphis, TN: This was the most memorable hotel opening of the year, if only for the sheer audacity and bizarreness of the undertaking. Built as a sports arena in 1991, the Memphis Pyramid is the world’s sixth largest pyramid and once hosted the NBA’s Grizzlies, but has been an empty eyesore along the Mississippi since 2004.
When Bass Pro Shops founder and owner Johnny Morris, one of the nation’s wealthiest billionaires, went fishing nearby he saw it and immediately recognized its potential. Known as the “Walt Disney of retail,” for his interactive, elaborately themed and decorated giant stores, Morris is an equally passionate, hands-on, and detail oriented hotelier, running the very impressive Big Cedar Lodge resort outside Branson, Missouri, in the heart of the Ozarks, a property I have been wowed by on my visits.
Morris spent more than $190 million converting the pyramid into a giant retail store, attraction and boutique hotel. The result is simply mind boggling and hard to fathom without experiencing, but the pyramid now contains a huge Bass Pro retail store complete with in-water, indoor marina boat center, the Ducks Unlimited Water Fowling Heritage Center museum, a bowling alley, shooting and archery ranges, restaurants, and the hotel, all linked by a cypress “swamp,” with 600,000 gallons of water features, 2,000 fish, alligators, and very realistic faux cypress trees 100 feet tall that drip faux Spanish moss. The Vegas-style architectural wonder is a puzzle of ponds, streams, tanks and aquariums, all spanned by footbridges. In the center Morris installed the world’s tallest freestanding elevator, which rises to a new penthouse restaurant and outdoor observation deck overlooking the Mississippi.
The hotel itself, the Big Cypress Lodge, has a separate elevator lobby and rings the second floor atrium, with rooms, many of them in the form of rustic cabins, some on stilts, overlooking the swamp and retail space, with rocking chair adorned balconies. When staying here, it is very easy to forget you are inside, and especially bizarre at night, when the store closes and only hotel guests are in the vast pyramid. Much of the hotel design is borrowed from Morris’ larger Big Cedar Lodge, and all rooms have hand-hewn beams, virtual fireplaces, plenty of animal mounts, jetted oversized tubs, huge walk-in showers, coffee makers, fresh turn down cookies, and a generous welcome baskets of free snacks.
The location is not the best for visiting Memphis, but the experience is so over the top it cannot be missed.