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Elvis Presley fans are alive and well around the world. There are 450 fan clubs, with the biggest ones located in Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States. When babies are
born, they are still given the names Priscilla and Graceland. The die-hards claim he is still alive; some say a sighting cured their most severe ailments. Many pilgrim to Graceland,
the quirky mansion in Memphis where he lived and died, multiple times a year. They come on his birthday, the week of his passing, any time they have vacation days to spare.
Graceland attracts an average of 600,000 guests annually. It’s the second most visited residence in the country, topped only by the White House.
Now these fans have a new hotel in which to stay and play. On October 27th Elvis Presley Enterprises opened The Guest House at Graceland, a 450-room, four-star hotel, located
adjacent to Graceland.
It's not that they didn't have a place to stay previously. For decades they could head to The Heartbreak Hotel, owned by the same company and located across the street from the
attraction. But it was small, with only 125 rooms, and overwhelming for anyone but the most avid fan. The ornate rooms had pictures of him everywhere. The company closed it
down the day it opened the new one.
The Guest House at Graceland is meant to be "subtle Elvis," explained Gad Risier, one of the managers. Elvis Presley Enterprises spent $90 million on it, sparing no expense when
it came to details that would invoke the King without throwing it in visitors' faces. When guests walk into the lobby the first thing they see is a circular carpet modeled after one of
Elvis’s many capes and purple couches with high backs that look like thrones. Just off the lobby is a hall with a replica of the famous staircase in Graceland that leads to the room in
which Elvis passed away. “The tour buses come in, and they have their photo opp,” said Risier. “It’s a staircase to heaven for them.”
The lobby lounge bar serves cocktails with names like jailhouse rocks, and the coffee shop next door is titled Shake, Rattle, & Go. Patrons can enjoy their drinks in the lounge
where there is live music almost every day of the week or take them just outside where there is a heart-shaped bonfire (It's called "The Burning Love" fire pit after that hit) EP’s Bar
and Grill, a family-friendly restaurant, has a pool table, because the musician loved playing it, and 13 televisions so guests can watch many stations at once just as he did.
The Guest House set up a founders program for a select group of lucky fans. For $35,000 this group gets access to VIP events at Graceland, a serene founders lounge at the
hotel, and an exclusive walking path that takes them to the mansion.
The Guest House has 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space, which they also use for private and corporate events and hotel programming. There are four meeting rooms
named rock, gospel, country, and blues. The rock one is painted with colorful swirls and other psychedelic images. On the weekend the hotel shows Presley movies, free to the
public, in it's gigantic, state-of-the-art cinema. A programming expert, who used to work on a cruise ship, plans bingo, trivia, and karaoke nights.
The hotel suites, the largest of which costs $1,500 a night, are the "ultimate in rock 'n' roll living," says the website. The largest room is modeled after Presley's master bedroom in
Graceland and has metallic gold and silver finishes and a television above the bed like he had. The Vernon & Glady's Suite is named after his parents and inspired by his vacation
home in Palm Springs. There is even a TCB suite, which stands for "Taking Care of Business."
Those with standard room get television stations that show Presley's movies and a live feed of Graceland. They all have touches of purple, the color of royalty, and prints of The
King's outfits. “True Elvis fans say, ‘Why aren’t there pictures of Elvis? This only has his robe,” said Risier. “It’s amazing how many times we hear that.”
|FANS PAY UP TO $1,500 A NIGHT FOR ROOM AT NEW HOTEL
January 01, 2017 - Alyson Krueger for Forbes / Elvis Express Radio