- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

The District is shining the spotlight on its theater scene next month in an attempt to brighten tourism during the winter, a typically drab travel time.

“Come Out to Play” is the Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corp.’s first theater promotion. The deal includes a discount on tickets when purchased with a stay in a participating hotel. Restaurants are highlighting theater menus.

“Hotels might not be at their busiest now. This is a good time of the year to promote leisure travel,” said Rebecca Pawlowski, spokeswoman for the city tourism group.

The promotion’s timing corresponds with Presidents Day and Valentine’s Day, when weekend getaways are common.

The promotion is being advertised in Mid-Atlantic cities, including Philadelphia and New York, and in homosexual publications.

“The idea for the program came out of a gay and lesbian task force as a way to go after the gay market,” Ms. Pawlowski said.

Taking part in the promotion are 33 restaurants and 22 hotels, including the Hotel Helix.

The Hotel Helix on Rhode Island Avenue Northwest hopes to sell 50 “Drama Queen Theatre” packages, which includes two martinis and two feather boas.

The promotion fits the hotel’s theme of movies, theater and stars, said General Manager Nick Gregory.

“It aligns with our story,” Mr. Gregory said. “To throw in some boas and martini amenities follows in with our playful nature.”

Arena Stage, like most of the other theaters involved, is offering tickets at a 10 percent discount when purchased with a hotel stay as part of the promotion.

“It’s promoting D.C. as a destination beyond the marble,” said Paula Edwards, marketing director at Arena Stage. “We hope to boost business during what could be seen as slower months after the holidays.”

The National Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Ford’s Theatre, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre and Folger Shakespeare Library are participating in the promotion.

See a full listing of events at www.washington.org/comeouttoplay.

In other news …

• Ireland’s Four Provinces, an Irish pub in the District’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, was purchased by General Manager Frank Hughes. The pub has a new name, Four Green Fields, but management says nothing else will change.

• The Bethesda Marriott completed an $8 million renovation last month. Renovations included new bedding and granite countertops.

• The Holiday Inn on the Hill completed a $10 million remodeling project and appointed Bobby Brandt as executive chef. All 343 guest rooms were upgraded. Mr. Brandt was chef at the Gabriel Restaurant in Dupont Circle.

• The District’s ninth Restaurant Week begins today and lasts through Sunday. Participating restaurants are offering lunches for $20.06 and dinners for $30.06. To see a list of restaurants taking part in the promotion, visit www.washington.org.

Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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