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
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
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.
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’.