New hotels launch at National Harbor

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New hotels launch at National Harbor
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Its norvirus and mouse scares behind it, the hotel boom at National Harbor went unabated this week, as Westin Hotels, Wyndham Hotels and Hampton Inn added their imprint to the 300-acre, $4 billion mega-complex along the shores of the Potomac.
 
With the grand opening of the sleek Westin National Harbor Tuesday, this adds 195 rooms to the 2,000 rooms opened at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center the week before and the 151-room Hampton Inn and Suites Hotel opened the week before that. Three additional hotels, a chic W Loft, Residence Inn and an upscale 250-unit Wyndham Vacation Resort are due to open in 2009.
 
Whew. If the room numbers were tallied up, the 2,596 rooms make up the largest hotel complex opened on the eastern seaboard, ever.
 
It was a tough opening month of the upscale Gaylord property, between a breakout of the norovirus gastrointestinal bug and sightings of mice in guestrooms reported to The Washington Post and by guests on TripAdvisor.com. To make matters worse, hoax calls were placed to local newspapers claiming that they were hotel guests who found mice nibbling on chocolate squares on their pillows. 
 
Gaylord Hotels does not place chocolates on pillows at any of their hotels.  
 
Sources suspect that some of the overzealous calls may have been placed by jilted maitre d’s or competing hotel managers from downtown DC who lost key personnel to the complex.

The airborne norovirus outbreak during the first week of April, which afflicted about 60 guests — including the wife of a former chair of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce — was mostly confined to guests at one medical conference and likely did not stem from resort food or cleanliness, said Amie Gorrell, the public relations director at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God’ it was a PR nightmare,”  Gorrell said.

Gaylord workers scrubbed down most available surfaces, including railings, TV remote controls and elevator buttons.

With the mice, a large team of exterminators were brought in to seal a hole left by construction crews. “There have been no sightings since,” said Gorrell, who lives in Alexandria, and for years did public relations at Orlando’s Walt Disney World.

Wyndham’s 12-story tower will be the only vacation ownership property in the 300-acre waterfront community and will feature street-level retail and about 250 condominium-style, fully furnished suites including 42 opulent Presidential suites.
 
The Westin, a newly constructed, self-proclaimed “sophisticated hotel,” is part of Phase I of what is being called an upscale “waterfront lifestyle center” and which during Phase II will put resort visitors at the heart of National Harbor’s retail, restaurant and nightlife options, including Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Art Whino, McCormick & Schmick’s, Dolce Enoteca, Ketchup, Grace’s Mandarin and Rosa Mexicano.
 
Owned by Brentwood National Harbor, LLC and developed and managed by SREE Hotels, LLC., Westin officials say it has bragging rights as “the only waterfront hotel in the metro DC area.” Technically, one might argue, the Gaylord National, Crowne Plaza Old Town, Watergate Hotel and Mandarin Oriental have buffers separating them from the river.
 
The new property is Westin Hotels & Resorts’ 157th hotel or resort, managed across 31 countries by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, said Sue Brush, Westin’s senior vice president. She said their newest hotel will provide a “sophisticated and refreshing guest experience” with a “sensory-rich environment” designed to enable personal renewal. “Guests will go home feeling better than when they arrived,” she said.

In a competitive market with 21,000 hotel rooms within a five mile radius, the hotel is piling on the amenities for guests, including a soothing Westin Sensory Welcome which blends a signature white tea scent, music, botanicals and mood lighting to create a memorable first impression as guests enter the hotel.
 
Many of the rooms boast stunning views of the Potomac River, Harbor Walk, Old Town and Washington, D.C. in the distance. Guest rooms, including five deluxe suites, are equipped with flat-screen TVs and a high-tech work area. “We also have the Westin Heavenly Bed to ensure visitors enjoy a good night’s sleep, and a Heavenly Bath to thoroughly restore mind and body,” Brush said.
 
The hotel also features an 1,800 square-foot ballroom, a high-tech fitness center, an in-room spa program and a full-service restaurant, Sauciety. “It will be a wonderful addition to National Harbor,” said Ravi C. Patel, president and CEO of SREE Hotels, LLC., the owner of 24 hotels open or in development. “We’re sure the hotel’s refreshing atmosphere, superior service and signature Westin amenities will be appreciated.”

The Wyndham property is expected to open in late 2009, and will expand Wyndham’s presence in the D.C. market, complementing its existing resort on upper King Street. The resort will feature indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools, an outdoor terrace and a health and fitness club. “We’re extremely excited to have begun the next phase of what will become one of our world-class resort,” said Franz Hanning, president and CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

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