WASH­ING­TON DC A CAP­I­TAL UP­DATE

If your clients think they know Wash­ing­ton DC and ‘have been there, done that’, tell them to think again as there is plenty that is new in the U.S. cap­i­tal, says Steve Har­tridge

Selling Travel - - The Review -

Tourism num­bers up

Wash­ing­ton DC is known for its mon­u­ments, memo­ri­als, mu­se­ums, dis­tinc­tive neigh­bour­hoods and, of course, the White House, but there are plenty of ‘fresh’ rea­sons for rec­om­mend­ing the USA’s cap­i­tal.

The des­ti­na­tion, and the state of Vir­ginia be­yond, was served a blow when Primera

Air, which ear­lier this year started a ser­vice be­tween Stansted and Wash­ing­ton Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port, went bust in Septem­ber.

But DC is un­likely to be short of fu­ture tourists: 2017 was DC’s eighth suc­ces­sive year of record vis­i­ta­tion, with 22.8 mil­lion do­mes­tic and overseas visi­tors – and the UK was its num­ber one mar­ket af­ter Canada.

Free nights for Brits

To help main­tain the mo­men­tum dur­ing the win­ter months Des­ti­na­tion DC has joined forces with United Air­lines and USAir­tours on a new ‘Stopover’ ini­tia­tive.

The pi­lot scheme pro­vides UK trav­ellers ar­riv­ing into and con­nect­ing through Wash­ing­ton Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­tween Novem­ber 1 2018 and Fe­bru­ary 28 2019 with a free two-day stopover op­tion.

Visi­tors can choose from ac­com­mo­da­tion at some of the city’s most at­trac­tive ho­tels, in­clud­ing the Ho­tel Monaco, The Dupont Cir­cle Ho­tel, Wash­ing­ton Hil­ton, Li­ai­son Capi­tol Hill and Ho­tel Palo­mar.

The city’s tourism or­gan­i­sa­tion is en­cour­ag­ing visi­tors to ‘Dis­cover the Real

DC’ through a new ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign that high­lights DC’s di­verse neigh­bour­hoods, din­ing op­tions, out­door ad­ven­tures and boom­ing arts and cul­ture scene. wash­ing­ton.org

Ho­tels boom

DC is a city en­joy­ing a trans­for­ma­tion. On the ho­tel front, there are 20 ho­tels and over 4,500 rooms in the pipe­line, with 16 prop­er­ties cur­rently un­der de­vel­op­ment.

Mak­ing the most noise is the new Ea­ton Ho­tel, which is in its soft-open­ing stages.

The for­mer Four Points Sher­a­ton is be­ing trans­formed into a 209-room ‘life­style prop­erty’. It fea­tures a movie theatre and a juice bar and well­ness cen­tre.

Other brands, in­clud­ing The Moxy Wash­ing­ton, DC Down­town, a bud­get­minded, 200-room prop­erty with petite rooms and large shared pub­lic spa­ces, and Con­rad Wash­ing­ton, DC, cur­rently in the mid­dle of a $50-mil­lion ren­o­va­tion, should make their de­buts in the next six months.

The im­me­di­ate streets sur­round­ing Union Mar­ket, DC’s in­die food mar­ket, is a hot­bed of de­vel­op­ment and DC’s first Vir­gin Ho­tel is ex­pected to open in late 2019.

Also near the mar­ket, Mob Ho­tel, a Paris­based chain with a de­sign team lead Philippe Starck, is ex­pected to open its first of five planned North Amer­i­can ho­tels in DC in 2020.

The Wharf

Al­ready up and run­ning is The Wharf, in the south­west of the city. De­scribed as the city’s first true water­front des­ti­na­tion, it fronts the Po­tomac river. The Wharf, which cur­rently has three ho­tels – Hy­att House (see re­view in Sell­ing Travel, Oc­to­ber 2018), Canopy by Hil­ton and in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal – sev­eral top-end restau­rants and three live mu­sic venues, is get­ting ready for the sec­ond phase of its de­vel­op­ment that will add parks and pub­lic spa­ces, lux­ury re­tail out­lets and much more.

From The Wharf there is a free shut­tle bus to the Na­tional Mall, while wa­ter taxis con­nect to Ge­orge­town, Alexan­dria and Na­tional Har­bour.

Gear­ing up for its re­open­ing af­ter a $10.8 mil­lion re­fresh is the iconic 555-foot tall Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment that looks down on the Na­tional Mall. The obelisk, which ex­pects to start wel­com­ing visi­tors again in March 2019, will have a new el­e­va­tor sys­tem and prom­ises a re­freshed ‘vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence’.

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