- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has opened a new hotel in Old Town Alexandria, the latest in its growing portfolio of Washington-area properties.

The Hotel Monaco Alexandria is the 10th area property for the San Francisco boutique hotel company. Washington is now tied with Kimpton’s home base, San Francisco, as its largest market.

When Kimpton’s next area hotel at 1600 King St. opens in 2009, Washington will be the largest.

The Monaco, developed by Kimpton and ING Clarion, has 241 rooms, including suites with swanky features such as Fuji soak bathtubs, marble tile and outdoor terraces.

In an attempt to connect with its Northern Virginia roots, the hotel’s decor is inspired by Civil War soldiers’ uniforms and features map prints on guest room chairs, said Nick Gregory, area general manager.

Kimpton has quickly filled the Washington area since its first East Coast hotel opened in 2001 at 17th and N streets Northwest.

“I don’t want to say we’ve saturated, but obviously we have a lot of coverage,” said Joseph Long, executive vice president for acquisitions and development at Kimpton. “Clearly, as in any city, the more hotels you have, you’re not likely to put one next door.”

“There are still parts of the region we are looking at,” Mr. Long said, adding that Kimpton would “love” to have a property in Georgetown.

Kimpton is also exploring options near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Bethesda, Rockville and Tysons Corner, Mr. Long said.

An average night at the Hotel Monaco, 480 King St. in Alexandria, starts at about $199. The top-of-the-line majestic suites start at $2,000.

Good month for museum hopping

Cultural Tourism DC is hoping to measure the bang from its buck during this year’s “Warm Up to a Museum” promotion.

Snowy, cold February is typically the worst attendance month for museums, said Reshma Sinanan, marketing and membership director at Cultural Tourism.

The promotion is designed to remind local residents that they won’t have to battle tourists at area museums this time of year.

“Residents can really reclaim their city and take advantage of the things the city has to offer. Some of the museums are doing really interesting things,” Ms. Sinanan said.

Some of the highlights include guided tours of the wrought iron of the National Cathedral and the National Gallery of Art’s “Paris in Transition” exhibit.

But Cultural Tourism hasn’t really been able to measure the success of the promotion, now in its third year.

So this year it is simply holding a contest to win an IPod Touch.

The promotional materials will include a contest entry, which can be dropped off at participating museums.

One lucky attendee will win an IPod and Cultural Tourism will get a good idea of the size of the response.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news to Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or jhaberkorn@washington times.com.

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