Luxury Hotels Upgrade, Expand, Receive Awards

More of DC’s Accommodations Cater to Traveling Elite

Big things are happening in the nation’s capital. Hotels are turning heads across the country, as several of the city’s finest luxury properties are completing renovations, upgrades and additions totaling more than $70 million. The Four Seasons Washington, DC was recently designated a Five Star Hotel by Mobil Travel Guide, making it the first and only hotel in the nation’s capital to receive the prestigious award. After its renovations, the Park Hyatt’s deluxe guest rooms will be the largest in the city. And the Willard Intercontinental Hotel—hosting presidents and dignitaries for generations—recently added a new state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot spa. But there’s more: Appealing to more discerning customers, other Washington, DC hotels have raised the standard, offering features and amenities coveted by other properties across the U.S.

The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC in October was awarded Mobil Travel Guide’s renowned Mobil Five-Star Award—the first and only hotel in Washington, DC to be designated as such; it’s also the only hotel in North America added to the elite list in 2005. Awarded as a direct result of the hotel staff’s specific strategy and efforts, the designation “indicates that a lodging experience is one of the best in the country,” said Shane O’Flaherty, Mobil Travel Guide’s vice-president of quality assurance. As one of the city’s premier luxury properties, the Four Seasons, with its prestigious location on Pennsylvania Avenue in historic Georgetown, recently completed a $25 million restoration program that features 150 generously expanded guest rooms and suites in the hotel’s East Wing. Unveiled just before receiving the award, the renovation’s style was conceived by acclaimed interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon. Its restful environment, combined with warm, friendly staff and an extraordinary 2,000-piece art collection, has earned the hotel a strong reputation for excellence in the nation’s capital and abroad.

Just a few blocks away, the Park Hyatt Washington is scheduled to reopen in April 2006 after a $24 million “re-concepting” project conceived by Tony Chi, a renowned New York modernist designer. When completed, its signature Park Deluxe guest rooms—measuring 618 square feet with dark walnut walls, contemporary lighting and spacious living areas—will be the city’s largest. Additionally, all 215 guest rooms will have been redesigned, featuring spa-like bathrooms with separate baths for soaking and showering. Melrose, the hotel’s popular restaurant, will reopen as the Blue Duck Tavern, an open-kitchen eatery serving simple, wholesome foods slow-roasted in wood embers and enhanced with braising, preserving and smoking techniques. Chef Brian McBride, who drew an extensive following at Melrose, traveled to Tokyo, Singapore and Zurich during the renovation period to study the cooking methods he’ll put in place at the restaurant.

Just across the street from the Park Hyatt, in Washington, DC’s fashionable West End, the four-diamond Fairmont Washington, DC caters to discerning guests with its “hotel within a hotel,” Fairmont Gold. Occupying the entire ninth floor, the 48-room, three-suite Gold Floor affords an exceptionally high degree of style and attention; guests enjoy deluxe continental breakfast, evening cocktails, tea and coffee when requested, and spacious guestrooms decked in rich hues of gold and red—along with complimentary truffles, biscotti, cookies and hot tea between 9 and 10 pm. Guests will soon be greeted with a newly renovated health club and a redeveloped courtyard garden.

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC, proud recipient of AAA’s Five Diamond award, wows guests with posh amenities but steps up the service on its Club Level. Located on the ninth floor, the Club Level features five executive suites and a Presidential Suite—measuring in at 1,350 square feet. The Club Lounge offers ninth-floor guests five food and beverage presentations each day.

Just a few blocks away in tony Georgetown, the Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown is also a AAA Five Diamond hotel. Built on the site of the historic incinerator building, this boutique-style hotel boasts a 2,039-square-foot Presidential Suite. The hotel’s Fahrenheit Restaurant recently introduced itself as a hip neighborhood gathering place, complete with a new dining concept: Its new menu offers flexible portions, from small to large, and diners can mix and match entrées to suit their individual tastes. Formerly of Philadelphia’s acclaimed Striped Bass, chef Terence Feury ties it all together with seasonal ingredients from local farms and food purveyors. The hotel features three meeting rooms, one of which offers a truly unique experience; the incinerator’s giant smokestack doubles as a 10-person Chimney Stack meeting room. Because of the hotel’s smaller size, only one meeting is held at a time, allowing for more personalized attention and a more intimate feel for attendees.

Luxury operator Mandarin Oriental made its entrance on the Washington, DC hotel scene in 2004, raising the bar for local hotels and raising eyebrows among travelers—and for good reason. The Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC was recently rated by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the world’s “hottest” hotels, earning a spot in the magazine’s Hot List 2005. Setting a precedent of luxury in the nation’s capital, its 400 rooms measure between 400 and 700 square feet and delight guests with a Feng Shui environment. And it’s easy to find a room with a view; 60 percent of the Mandarin’s guest rooms feature unparalleled views of downtown DC, the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial. The Mandarin has also earned critical praise for its restaurant CityZen, recognized by Esquire (“Best New Restaurant 2005”), Gourmet, Wine Spectator, AAAand others. Chef Eric Ziebold recently received a spot on Food & Wine’s “America’s Best New Chefs 2005” list.

History and heritage meet luxury at one of Washington, DC’s oldest, most sophisticated hotels. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its reopening in 2006, the Willard InterContinental Washington offers 334 guest rooms, including 40 suites, 19,891 square feet of meeting space and three dining venues—the Willard Room, Café 1401 and the Round Robin Bar. Of particular interest to visitors is the Willard’s new, state-of-the-art, 5,000-square-foot spa. Its four individual treatment rooms offer a wide range of restorative massage, facial and hydrotherapy body treatments and men’s and women’s steam rooms—with decorative Willard “W” floor mosaics—along with saunas and equipment for cardiovascular workouts and weight-training. Treatment rooms for couples feature tandem massage tables, lighted Jacuzzis and a secluded, 400-square-foot outdoor deck.

Continuing to impress guests with its strong heritage and renowned views of the White House and Washington Monument, the Hay-Adams Hotel was awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award in 2005 for the 19th consecutive year, and was named one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 75 North American Hotels. Rich with history, the hotel has also done its part to keep up with the needs of today’s travelers. The hotel recently spent $450,000 to refurbish its Concorde and Windsor meeting rooms, and global travelers benefit from the newly-renovated, 24-hour business center, equipped with wireless Internet. Off the Record Bar is one of Forbes.com’s “World’s Best Hotel Bars” and features cocktails and beverages prepared by John Boswell, four-time winner of Washingtonian’s Best Bartender Award. It’s also known for occasional celebrity appearances.

More and more, Washington, DC is being seen as a destination of choice for world travelers, culture vultures and smart executives. For this reason, hotel standards will continually be raised—and met—with great enthusiasm.

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