E-mail
Print
Share This Page
Increase Text Size Text Reset Decrease Text Size

In the January 2016 Issue

Room for Luxury

Trump Hotel and Watergate Add to City's Upscale Line-Up


by Dave Seminara

d1.hotels.trump.post.office.spsec

More than 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy described Washington as a "city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." Some argue that this dynamic hasn't changed much over the decades, but the notable exception to this old axiom is the city's growing collection of luxury hotels, where staff demonstrate Northern efficiency and Southern charm, coddling and pampering well-heeled visitors.

Decadent hotels like the Four Seasons, the St. Regis, two Ritz-Carltons, Mandarin Oriental, the Jefferson, the Hay Adams, Capella and Park Hyatt have made D.C. an increasingly appealing destination for visitors and businesspersons who aren't pinching pennies. Next year, travelers in search of high-end accommodation will have two more sumptuous options to choose from: Trump International's brand-new hotel in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue and the newly refurbished Watergate Hotel, fresh off a $125 million renovation.

Read more...

 

In the October 2015 Issue

Room for Luxury

Trump Hotel and Watergate Add to City's Upscale Line-Up


by Dave Seminara

d1.hotels.trump.post.office.spsec

More than 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy described Washington as a "city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." Some argue that this dynamic hasn't changed much over the decades, but the notable exception to this old axiom is the city's growing collection of luxury hotels, where staff demonstrate Northern efficiency and Southern charm, coddling and pampering well-heeled visitors.

Decadent hotels like the Four Seasons, the St. Regis, two Ritz-Carltons, Mandarin Oriental, the Jefferson, the Hay Adams, Capella and Park Hyatt have made D.C. an increasingly appealing destination for visitors and businesspersons who aren't pinching pennies. Next year, travelers in search of high-end accommodation will have two more sumptuous options to choose from: Trump International's brand-new hotel in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue and the newly refurbished Watergate Hotel, fresh off a $125 million renovation.

Read more...

In the July 2015 Issue

Renovation Race

In Hypercompetitive Market, Hotels Spruce Up to Stay Fresh


by Stephanie Kanowitz

c1.hotels.renovation.sofitel.lobby.spsec

When Washington welcomed a record-breaking 18.3 million domestic visitors in 2014, local hotel owners sat up a little straighter. After all, whether they came here for closed-door meetings with members of Congress or to stroll with their families around the Smithsonian museums, those visitors needed places to sleep.

And this area has plenty of options when it comes to lodging — with many more on the way. Currently, the nation's capital is home to more than 140 hotel properties and 31,000 rooms, according to Destination DC, which markets the area as a great place to visit. About 20 more properties are set for construction.

Also worth noting is that while visitors are here, they spend money — and plenty of it. Domestic visitors alone spent about $6.8 billion in D.C. last year, according to IHS Global Inc., a year-over-year increase of 1.9 percent. Yes, that's billion with a B.
  

Read more...

In the April 2015 Issue

Cherry Blossom Fever

Pink Flowers Heat Up Post-Winter Washington


by Stephanie Kanowitz

c1.hotels.washington.cherry.blossoms.spsec

The snow totals this winter may have been unimpressive compared to previous seasons, but the winter felt long, and few Washington residents and visitors will be sad to see it go. A sure sign that single-digit temperatures are behind us, at least for a while, is the bloom of the Japanese Yoshino cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. The tiny pink blossoms are iconic and symbolic, representing not only pleasant weather forecasts but also the congenial relationship between the United States and Japan. Their beauty is also an enduring symbol of Washington, D.C., and one of the city's biggest tourist draws.

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, running from March 20 to April 12 this year, commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to Washington. This year marks the 103rd anniversary of that gift, and about 1.5 million will come out to see the flowers and participate in four weekends of related programming.  

Read more...

In the January 2015 Issue

Above and Beyond

Little Extras Go Long Way To Help Hotels Stand Out


by Stephanie Kanowitz

hotels.amenities.beacon.spsec

With almost 30,000 hotel rooms within Washington's borders, hoteliers looking to differentiate themselves have their work cut out for them. Besides location and brand recognition, perhaps one of the best ways they can rise above the rest is through the amenities they offer. And we're not talking about brand-name soap and shampoo in the bathroom.

To attract some of the millions of visitors who come to the nation's capital — a record 19 million in 2013, to be precise, according to Destination DC, which markets the city as a choice locale — hotels go all out. Here's a look at some of the high-end enticements.

Read more...

In the July 2014 Issue

Raise a Glass

In Spirited Evolution, Mixologists Shake Things Up at Hotel Bars


by Martin Austermuhle

c1.travel.hotels.beacon.spsec

If a hotel bar doesn't strike you as a city's scene-defining attraction, don't worry, you're probably not alone. Hotel bars have long been known more for their utility than their experience; it might be a place to get a drink, but only because it's downstairs and you're willing to settle.

But as D.C.'s drinking culture has matured and grown more sophisticated in recent years, many hotel bars have opted to up their game instead of resting on their laurels — in much the same way that hotel restaurants have evolved into a distinct dining experience. More hotels are hiring bartenders — or "mixologists" in the new parlance — to design drink menus that both embrace and expand upon traditional cocktails. These same properties are marketing their bars as destinations to tourists and locals alike.

Read more...


Sea of Possibility

Ritz Program Brings Cousteau's Underwater Mission to Local Students


by Miranda Katz

c3.travel.hotels.cousteau.spsec

In 1964, ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau embarked on what then seemed an impossible mission: to spend 30 days underwater, living in a manmade habitat in the Red Sea. Fifty years later, his grandson, Fabien Cousteau, is attempting to break that record by spending 31 days on the Aquarius laboratory in the Florida Keys on a habitat 30 feet deeper than his grandfather's. This expedition, known as Mission 31, commenced on June 1.

Among Mission 31's sponsors is the Ritz-Carlton, and on June 13, the hotel's Georgetown location hosted two dozen students from its Succeed Through Service program for an interactive Skype session with Cousteau, allowing a rare glimpse at life under the sea.

Succeed Through Service is one of the Ritz-Carlton's Community Footprints programs, all of which are concerned with social and environmental responsibility.

Read more...

In the April 2014 Issue

Worldly Management

Local Hotels Recruit From Far and Wide


by Stephanie Kanowitz

c1.hotels.travel.hay.adams.spsec

Franziska Boelke had been in the hotel industry for more than 15 years when she decided to give working abroad one last hurrah. She'd worked in hotels in her native Dresden, Germany, and downtown London, and she'd spent five years at Royal Caribbean International cruise line. But she felt something was missing.

She got in touch with HRC International, a hospitality industry placement firm headquartered in the Netherlands, which suggested she apply for the management trainee program at Washington's historic Hay-Adams Hotel. That was in July 2006. When it ended 18 months later, she'd learned the ins and outs of the front desk, housekeeping and night auditing — and that she didn't have to job hunt again anytime soon.

"Before concluding my traineeship, I was offered the position of assistant front desk manager. I gladly accepted," Boelke said.

Read more...


Pink Power

Cherry Blossoms Are Welcome Sight For Winter-Weary Washingtonians


by Anna Gawel

c2.blossoms.willard.peacock.alley.spsec

Washington, D.C., is fertile ground for international culture, but in the spring, one country's influence rises above the rest. Japan's fruitful gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States in 1912 has sparked more than a century of cultural goodwill and critical tourist dollars for the city.

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 to April 13, with dozens of events celebrating the cherry blossoms that line the Tidal Basin. (Experts predict the trees will be in peak bloom between April 8 and 12.)

The spectacular burst of pink is certainly pretty to look at, but the blossoms are also big business for the area's hotels, which roll out a slew of special packages, discounts and themed offerings to capitalize on the springtime extravaganza.

Read more...

In the January 2014 Issue

Versatile Hospitality

Hotels Show Washington Is More Than Government


by Audrey Hoffer

d1.hotels.willard.ballroom.spsec

Hotels are a frontline for diplomats and their guests in the city. Whether it's a new arrival previewing the local real estate and school options, or a visiting delegation in town for a major meeting, or members of the diaspora converging for a National Day celebration, hotels are constantly playing host to the international community.

And it's a role they're constantly working to improve on, as part of an overall effort to keep up with an increasingly sophisticated city — and clientele. "We are continually investing in the community and striving to evolve with our neighborhoods," said Gregory Leinweber, area director of sales and marketing for Kimpton Hotels, the boutique brand that owns Hotel Monaco, Madera, Helix and the George, among others.

But while the city rarely slows down, official Washington sometimes grinds to a halt — as seen in the 16-day government shutdown in October. Ongoing political battles have also tightened U.S. government spending, putting the kibosh on many junkets, conferences and out-of-office meetings.

Read more...


The Good Life

Luxury Still Abounds in Italy, But So Do Simplicity, Spirituality


by Kathy Kemper

d2.travel.italy.positano.spsec

The year 2013 marked the "Anno della Cultura Italiana," a massive celebration of Italian culture throughout the United States. While hundreds of events were held in more than a dozen American cities to fête the occasion, my family and I believed there was no better way to honor the U.S.-Italian friendship than to travel to Italy. We wanted to experience the country's essence, learn about its history, absorb its cultural heritage, and feel its soul.

And we wanted to go beyond the average tourist experience, just as "2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States" sought to present a deeper understanding of the country. That's why the nationwide showcase focused not only on the obvious — Italy's storied cultural achievements — but also on its legacy of innovation, discovery and research, including the leading scientists, engineers and economists who are poised to leave their mark on 21st-century civilization. Likewise, we set out to explore the country's present-day dynamism and how historic Italy is connected to modern Italy.

Read more...

In the October 2013 Issue

Healthy Hospitality

Sustainability Replaces Splurging As Hotels Take Eating Well to Heart


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d1.hotels.aka.rooftop.spsec

Hotels often describe their food offerings with words such as decadent and rich, but adjectives like organic and local have started popping up more frequently in marketing and advertising material. Gone are the days of splurging on food while traveling, industry experts say. Instead, travelers are showing preference for places that cater to healthy lifestyles.

"More and more people are really paying attention and focused on healthier living," said Elliott Ferguson, president and chief executive officer of Destination DC, which promotes travel to the nation's capital. "You look at the international community, they have probably been a little bit further ahead of us in terms of wanting and desiring to be healthier. It's one of those things where restaurants and hotels need to start paying attention to the needs of the people they serve."

Read more...


Bracing for Winter

Spa Treatments Help Skin Weather Seasonal Chill


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d2.spas.red.door.willard.spsec

Change is in the air. And well, it's the air. Gone are the heat and humidity of summer, and although few of us are likely to miss breaking a sweat by the time we walk to our cars, our skin might miss the wetter air. The cooler, drier air that comes with fall and winter can dry and irritate skin. To help prep it, plump it and protect it, several area hotel spas are offering specialized treatments.

"With less humidity and cooler temperatures, our skin and hair try to pull moisture from the air," said Holly Edgin, director of the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner Day Spa. "Cooler and drier temperatures tend to dehydrate the skin, especially with constant exposure to heat, fireplaces, wind, rain and cold weather."

Read more...


Neat Little Package

Airlines Offer One-Stop Shop To Simplify Vacation Planning


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d3.airlines.london.spsec

Leisure travel is, by its name, supposed to be leisurely. But planning a vacation can be anything but. Even after you've selected the destination, you still have to find a hotel, arrange tours and book transportation.

Airlines have long offered travel packages in an effort to take some out of the planning out of vacation planning. Extremely popular about 20 years ago but eclipsed by Expedia and other online services, they still offer plentiful options and are usually an effortless, safe bet, especially for novice travelers. Third-party contractors usually oversee the packages department, but the goal is universal: to provide a one-stop shop for popular destinations.

Read more...

In the July 2013 Issue

Hospitable Georgetown

Upscale New Properties Enhance Neighborhood's Allure, Prosperity


by Stephanie Kanowitz

c1.graham.observatory.spsec

In its 262-year history, Washington's Georgetown neighborhood has been a shipping center for tobacco, a military depot, industrial home to coal and flourmills, a haven to freed slaves and one of the District's worst slums. But since the 1930s and with the help of Georgetown University, it's become a can't-miss stop for locals and visitors alike.

It's also used its split personality as a historical landmark, college town, shoppers' sanctuary and exclusive residential area to attract some of the biggest names in the hotel industry — Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and, more recently, Capella — as well as some smaller ones, such as the new Graham Georgetown.

"Georgetown has always had an image of being the best place for shopping, nightlife, restaurants and the place you want to go to when you visit Washington, D.C., above the traditional aspects of our city," said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and chief executive officer of Destination DC, a private, nonprofit corporation that promotes and supports D.C. travel and tourism. "It's one of the hip addresses to be in Washington."

Read more...


Refreshing Changes

Hotels Mix It Up With New Culinary, Cocktail Offerings


by Kat Lucero

c2.hotel.bars.edgar.spsec

An homage to an FBI director. Sleek décor. Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Southern comfort and craft cocktails.

In the past few months, new and revamped bars and restaurants inside the city's top hotels have complemented D.C.'s ever-expanding dining and social scene.

"Hotel bars create energy and the social environment," said Ed Baten, a 20-year-veteran of the hospitality industry. He's general manager of the W Washington D.C. hotel, a luxury chain known for being at the forefront of chic lodgings all over the world. The 2009 arrival of the W and its P.O.V. rooftop lounge, which commands striking views of the White House, cemented the red-hot reputation of the city's hospitality market.

A D.C. native, Baten said the area wasn't exactly known for nightlife years ago. But now, with a strong economy and a population spike, largely driven by young professionals in their 20s and 30s, the nation's capital is no longer just a sleepy center of government — it's a national trendsetter.

Read more...

In the April 2013 Issue

Beyond the Pink

Behind Flourish of Cherry Blossoms Lies Rainbow of Spectacular Sights


by Karin Zeitvogel

c1.cherry.beacon.21.m.lounge.spsec

It's funny how many similarities there are between cherry blossom season and choosing a new pope.

Take this similarity: In Rome, locals rub shoulders with huge crowds of tourists from around the world in Saint Peter's Square, watching for white smoke to rise from what's probably the most famous chimney in the world to signal the election of a new pontiff.

In Washington, meanwhile, throngs of locals and tourists flock to the National Mall and Tidal Basin to admire some of the most famous cherry trees in the world, checking them for signs that they have reached "peak bloom."

Another parallel is that nobody knew when the conclave of cardinals would elect a pope, just as no one knows exactly when the cherry blossoms will be at their finest. Yes, National Park Service horticulturalists go out on a limb every year and say, around a month in advance, when they think "peak bloom" will be. This year, they originally pegged it in the period between March 26 to 30 but later revised it to April 3 to 6, although with cold temperatures and even snow at the tail end of March, the buds may hide a bit longer.

Read more...

In the January 2013 Issue

Presidential Pampering

At 2013 Inauguration, Hotels Solemnly Swear to Do It Up


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d1.inauguration.willard.spsec

The robocalls and attack ads have ended. That's cause for celebration enough for many of us. But January will bring to Washington a party like no other when President Barack Obama is sworn in on the 21st for his second term at the helm of the free world.

For D.C.-area hotels, the inauguration means big business. More than 1 million people attended Obama's 2009 inauguration, and area hotel rooms brought in more than $100 million in revenue, according to Destination DC, a private nonprofit corporation with a membership of 850 businesses and organizations that support the Washington travel and tourism sector.

Since then, hotels have invested $250 million in refurbishing and renovating — and are ready to welcome guests for the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Most lodgings require a four-night minimum stay and carry hefty price tags, but all promise an experience fit for royalty (or at least a head of state), with lavish meals, personal fashion consultants, unique keepsakes and undivided attention.

Here are a few of the more sumptuous options.


Read more...

In the October 2012 Issue

Let's Get Together

Washington Offers Vast Array of Venues for Every Event


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d1.venues.hay.adams.spsec

Washington, D.C., is no stranger to events large and small. Whether it's a presidential inauguration on the National Mall for a million people or an everyday power lunch for two, the District has a place for everyone.

So to help you plan your next gathering, we've compiled a list of some of the area's top spots based on event size, type and fun details such as high-tech perks, historical details and the ghosts of famous visitors past.


Read more...

In the July 2012 Issue

Service All-Stars

Staff Serve as Invisible Glue That Keeps Hotels Together


by Suzanne Kurtz

c1.service.hotel.dpont.spsec

From heads of state to globetrotting tourists, visitors to Washington have come to expect an experience worthy of the nation's capital.

A peak behind the scenes at some of D.C.'s premier hotels reveals a quiet cadre of dedicated service professionals working hard to ensure that the city's guests are well looked after.

In a structure built in 1818, and always functioning as a hotel of some sort, the Willard InterContinental Washington has a long history of hospitality, which even includes hosting the first diplomatic mission of samurai from Japan in 1860.

"That legacy impacts our service to this day," said Barbara Bahny, director of public relations for the hotel. "In many parts of life service has gone away and been replaced by self-service."


Read more...

In the April 2012 Issue

Matching Tastes

Individually Tailored Hotels Suit Range of Traveler Types


by Stephanie Kanowitz

c1.hotels.gregory.spsec

Tourism in D.C. has been growing at a steady clip in the past five years. In 2010, about 17 million visitors spent $5.68 billion in the nation's capital, according to Destination DC, the city's tourism marketing arm. More than half of that money came from business travelers, and the rest from leisure. The bottom line: Tourism is crucial to this region's bottom line.

But with 122 hotels and 29,256 guestrooms to choose from, according to Destination DC, it can be tough for those all-important visitors to decide where to stay. To help them, we put together this guide of properties that excel at catering to certain personality types, so that Washington — an eclectic hub of politics, business, history and entertainment — provides each visitor with an individually tailored experience in the nation's capital.


Read more...

In the January 2012 Issue

Signature Style

Design Lets a Property's Distinct Personality Shine


by Stephanie Kanowitz

d1.hotels.spesec

Washington, D.C., has no shortage of hotels running the gamut of international chains to mom-and-pop boutiques. Within its 68 miles, the District has 28,304 rooms in 119 hotels serving about 17 million tourists each year, according to Destination DC, the city's tourism marketing arm. With that much competition, hotels are constantly trying to outdo the other in service, amenities, price and creative packages to set themselves apart. But ultimately, a hotel's personality is what makes or breaks it, and the easiest way to convey character is through style — that signature design and ambience that define a property.

The Diplomat takes a look at three hotels with completely different and distinctive styles to see how their décor expresses the message they want to send. Their looks embody the inherent variety of Washington's hospitality scene: classic elegance, trendy luxury and Asian Zen.


Read more...


In the October 2011 Issue

Momentous Occasions

Willard Marks 25th Anniversary And 150 Years of Illustrious History


by Rachael Bade

d2.willard.parlor.spsec

On Sept. 20, a few skips from the White House, guests of the Willard InterContinental Washington toasted with scotches and mint juleps in the hotel's stately lobby. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reopening of this landmark 12-story, Beaux-Arts property.

Don't let that wee number — 25 — confuse you: With a history that began less than three decades after the birth of the United States itself, the Willard is practically an American institution.

From the mid-1800s to 2011, the Willard had kept watch on life in the nation's capital from its vantage point on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, NW. From the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln to the crafting of an inspirational speech by a man who "had a dream," the hotel has witnessed some of U.S. history's most monumental events.

Read more...

 

In the July 2011 Issue

Serious Parties

Washington Hotels Excel at Catering to Superlative Events


by Jacob Comenetz

c1.hotels.fairmont.spsecPhoto: The Fairmont Washington, D.C.

As a capital city of international import, it's only fitting that Washington, D.C., hosts more than its fair share of larger-than-life luminaries, political and otherwise. And the city's venerable hotels, famous destinations in their own right, are well-versed in what it takes to satisfy their singular demands, especially when it comes to hosting big-time events.

From political fundraising and charity dinners, to galas honoring world leaders, to multicultural weddings with hundreds of guests, the events that top Washington hotels host are as outstanding as the clientele they serve. To get a sense of what goes on behind the scenes to produce some of the largest, most exceptional events, The Washington Diplomat talked to catering directors at three leading hotels: the Fairmont and Ritz-Carlton, both in the West End, and the Washington Hilton in Dupont Circle.

Read more...

In the April 2011 Issue

Roof With a View

At Select Washington Hotels, Rooftops Become Hotspots


by Rachael Bade

hotels.donovan
Photo: Gaszton Gal / Donovan House

Between the White House, Capitol Hill and the monuments on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., is considered one of the most awe-inspiring cities in the United States — not just politically but visually. Yet the view from the ground isn't the only perspective in town.

So when sauntering past the giant marble memorial of Abe Lincoln or kayaking to the Jefferson Memorial gets old, there's always another angle from which to appreciate the city's monumental landscape: Check it out from above.

The District's hotel rooftops offer some of the most breathtaking and picturesque views of the city — postcard-worthy and picture-perfect for visitors and locals alike. They're all the more special because there's really only a handful of places in the city that can be considered genuine rooftop destinations.

Read more...


Baltic Beauty

Among Region's Many Charms: Its Resilience


by Anna Gawel

hotels.estonia.front
Photo: Anna Gawel

Cobblestone streets meander along magnificently preserved old town squares that exude medieval grandeur. Elsewhere, Art Nouveau and Baroque architecture and imposing gothic cathedrals mingle with tiny Wi-Fi-connected cafés that offer an ideal perch from which to soak in centuries of history and culture. Beyond the city centers lie beaches and lakes, lush forests and quaint villages — with a few castles and palaces thrown in for good measure. But the landscape, while impressive, isn't the most striking feature. Rather, it's the fierce national pride among the people, tinged with an equally fierce kinship with the West.

The beauty of the three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — is no longer a hidden gem. Tourists have been flocking to these picturesque countries ever since they emerged from Soviet control exactly 20 years ago (the United States never formally recognized the World War II-era Soviet takeover, which in part accounts for the enduring admiration toward Americans).

Also See: Estonia and Latvia Online Resources


Read more...

Last Edited on January 5, 2016

Follow The Diplomat: icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-linkedin icon-rss instagram