Gaylord ‘Capitalizes’ on Size and Location
by Merrie L. Murray
At the new Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, a soaring 18- floor glass atrium provides a stunning introduction to this 2,000-room property and captures the sunlight and views of the historic Potomac River. With a trade show floor capable of displaying ten helicopters at once, four restaurants, world class spa and a welcoming, relaxed ambience, Gaylord National was built to appeal to the meeting and convention crowd and to leisure travelers.
Built by Gaylord Hotels, a brand with a loyal following from its properties near Nashville, Tennessee, Orlando, Florida and Dallas, Texas, Gaylord National came into town with an industry record of one million room nights sold ten months before the hotel’s April opening. By July, it felt as if the mega resort had been open for three years so smoothe were the operations.
This $865 million property sits just minutes from Washington DC, upriver from George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and across the Potomac from Virginia’s Old Town Alexandria, founded in 1749. It anchors the 300-acre National Harbor, Prince George’s County, Maryland, and together they stretch a mile and a quarter along the Potomac River with a backdrop of green.
Four Stars and Four Diamonds
Patriotic blues, reds and gold, state flags, a sea of white Italian marble and vintage photos of the Chesapeake help define the resort. Gaylord National touts its 2,300 STAR employees and attention to service, and AAA has already awarded it Four Diamonds.
Aside from the enviable riverfront location and temperature-controlled atrium, it boasts indoor and outdoor gardens with 30-foot plants , streams and shops. Children gravitate toward the atrium fountain that sprays jets of water 50 feet into the air on command with special lights and patriotic music. Don’t be surprised to see roving entertainers.
A huge plus is the new water taxi service provided by Potomac Riverboat Company. Guests can hop on board a water taxi at Gaylord National’s pier for more dinner options and sightseeing in Old Town (seven dollars one way). Boat rides to Georgetown and Mount Vernon are also available.
An easy stroll along a waterfront promenade takes guests from Gaylord National to the still- developing two billion dollar National Harbor where a marina, four additional hotels, shops, restaurants, condos and an ice cream shop await. This multi-purpose destination on the river, developed by the Peterson Companies, is completing Phase One. The new National Children’s Museum, due to open in 2012, broke ground this summer. Visit www.nationalharbor.com
With 2,000 rooms to fill, especially on weekends and holidays, it is a given there will be plenty of special events, promotions and special rates. Watch for details of “Christmas on the Potomac” November 25-December 28 with a festive 60-foot glass tree, holiday market and entertainment for the children.
All guestrooms are spacious (400 square feet), and user friendly with high-speed wireless internet, 32- inch flat screen television, cherry and walnut furnishings and oversized glass showers. Three- quarters of the guestrooms are Queen/Queen configuration.
Restaurants choices include the signature Old Hickory Steakhouse with wine cellar and cheese cave, Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine for a taste of Chesapeake crab cakes and fresh fish, and Pienza Italian Market with six buffet stations for different food moods.
National Pastime, the official Sports Bar & Grill of the Washington Nationals, features a 30- foot, high- definition video wall and sports memorabilia. Night owls gravitate to the resort’s Pose Ultra Lounge on the 18th floor with fiber optics and view of the Washington Monument.
Guests should take advantage of the resort’s Relache Spa (means relax or respite in French). Cool and sophisticated and decked out with black and white marble, the spa features massages, full beauty salon and relaxation room overlooking the river. Rack rates start from $299.
Visitors flying into Reagan National Airport can take the Super Shuttle for $22 to be at Gaylord National in about fifteen minutes.
Call 301-965-2000; www.gaylordnational.com