Elvis Week Day 2: Top 5 Things I Noticed on Guest House at Graceland Tour

By Jon Waterhouse

Miracles happen at Elvis Week, and today I’m living proof.

After a wonderful yesterday morning at Graceland, the next six hours panned out like this: A head-shaving accident and a cut that wouldn’t stop bleeding; leaving the doctor’s office and breaking down on Interstate 55; receiving help from Memphis’ finest; an expensive tow truck ride to a local mechanic; and no rental cars to be found.

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Alas, good fortune began appearing in the form of bountiful blessings, including no need for stitches and my survival on 55. And let’s not forget the only rental ride I could finally track down wound up being a bad-to-the-bone Mustang.

Gunning those wheels down Elvis Presley Boulevard, with Elvis Radio blaring out of the rolled-down windows, a thought popped in my head: Presley would be proud.

So, I’m finally back in front of the keyboard, going over the cool stuff that unfolded on Wednesday, beginning with my visit to the construction site at the Guest House at Graceland, the new 450-room luxury resort just steps away from the king’s castle, set to open on October 27.

Back at Elvis Week 2014, I stood near Priscilla Presley during the groundbreaking ceremony, and I even got to hold one of the official shovels. An expanse of dirt and grass served as the surroundings.

Fast forward to yesterday. I found myself standing in front of a breathtaking structure, echoing the design of Graceland itself, not to mention Elvis’ own flair for decor. The construction crew bustled around me, taking care of business. They whizzed by on forklifts, scaled ladders and slathered on coats of paint.

I could see the Guest House coming to life before my eyes. The best example would be the dirt patch I noticed as I parked my car. When I returned, I found it covered by a blanket of sod.

While taking the tour with Michael Pramshafer, the vice president of sales and marketing, I witnessed countless cool sites. Take a look at my Top 5.

THE TOP 5 THINGS I SAW ON THE GUEST HOUSE AT GRACELAND TOUR

The Guest House at Graceland Itself

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Walking up to the Guest House, I could imagine the strains of “Welcome to my World” playing in my head. Sure, it has the look of a world-class resort, but it’s distinctively Elvis. For the first time, us fans get the opportunity to physically live in the closest thing to Elvis’ world, a combination of class and luxury, with just the right amount of kingly cool and Memphis flash.

The Lobby Ceiling and Floor

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Stepping into the Guest House lobby hit me with the power of an Elvis karate kick. The adjectives began materializing in my head, for sure, but gorgeous sums it up. Looking up, I noticed the mirrored ceiling, a definite nod to the mirrored-wall staircase at Graceland. Beneath my feet I soaked up the carpet and its elongated diamond teardrop design. I could imagine Elvis wearing a shirt with that pattern.

The Guest House Theater

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Pramshafer took us to the massive theater room where he says live concerts, Elvis movies, special events and more will take place. The sprawling stage looks as if it could house an orchestra. And there’s not a bad seat —there’s 464 of them— in the house.

The Rock ’n’ Roll Meeting Room

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The Guest House has more than 17,000 square feet of meeting or function space, including the Grand Ballroom with its 17-foot ceilings. Each of the smaller break-out meeting rooms have been christened with the names of each of the halls of fame Elvis belongs to. Of course, my favorite had to be the Rock ’n’ Roll room and the glowing gold wallpaper.

The Sample Rooms

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Inside the guest rooms, you’ll see the rubber meeting the Guest House road. Even before you walk in your room, a light fixture by your door —its base shaped in the letters EP — sets the mood. Then waves of hip and hospitality wash over you as you move inside. Contemporary cool and modern amenities meet the timelessness of Elvis. The details run amok. Even the light gray window curtains have tiny guitars stitched into the fabric. The magenta pillows on the beds might be a tip of the hat to Elvis’ mom, Gladys Presley’s favorite color. Elvis-related artwork hangs on the wall, including a framed image of that iconic gold lamé tuxedo jacket. Even the bathroom amazed me, so I had to take a selfie.

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I could pen volumes about the Guest House, including its soon-to-be finished restaurants, themed suites and more. Just go ahead and book your room and see for yourself. In fact, Guest House reservations for Elvis Week 2017 begin at 10 a.m. August 13. Putting it on speed dial now!

MY GUEST DJ HOUR ON ELVIS RADIO

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Following my Guest House tour, I zipped over to Graceland Plaza and the Elvis Radio studio to play Presley cuts for my guest DJ session. The totally awesome Argo manned the boards while I talked about what I’m looking forward to most during Elvis Week 2016. I chose corresponding tunes to tie in with those anticipated moments. Here’s what I played and why:

“Jailhouse Rock”
I chose this one in honor of my buddy, Dean Z, who won the 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition. He sealed the deal with this song. Dean will be serving as the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition video correspondent. We’ll post a few of his videos soon once they’re live.

“Welcome To My World”
While touring the Guest House at Graceland, it felt as if I were in Elvis’ world.

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“Mystery Train”
The Elvis 101 session on Aug. 12 during Elvis Week features some of the top Elvis scholars on the planet, including author Peter Guralnick, who wrote “Last Train to Memphis” and “Careless Love.” I dedicated this tune to Peter. Come back to the blog to read my upcoming interview with him.

“If You Talk In Your Sleep”
The Sound and Soul of Memphis Concert cranks on Aug. 12, as well. In addition to songs from the Elvis catalog, the Memphis Jones Band, Ted Torres Martin and Brandon Cunning help deliver other timeless Memphis-bred music, too. This tune encapsulates Elvis and another iconic Memphis musical institution. Elvis recorded “If You Talk In Your Sleep” at the Stax studio, home to Otis Redding, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Issac Hayes, Rufus Thomas and a long list of others.

“Love Me”
On Aug. 16 at the Elvis Week Main Stage, Terry Mike Jeffrey, Jamie Kelley and Gladys & Maybelle perform a special Love Songs Concert, featuring some of Elvis’ heart-tugging tunes. One of my favorites remains “Love Me,” written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, which originally appeared on the king’s second album in late 1956.


1 Comment

  1. Christina Holgate

    Glad you escaped real bodily harm to take us through the sights and sounds of Elvis Week so far! It’s impossible not to get caught up in your excitement and enthusiasm. Really fun read. Loved your choices for the Guesthouse top 5! Of course we want to see the bathroom!

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