- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

Washington area hotels got a boost earlier this month when the General Services Administration, which sets the lodging rates for government travelers, raised the District's hotel room rates by $31 a night.
Beginning Feb. 15, the GSA raised the per-diem rate for D.C. hotels from $119 to $150.
"This is a major increase for us," says Reba Pittman Walker, president for the Hotel Association of Washington D.C. "It's really a shot in the arm especially in light of everything that has happened here."
Washington has always been a major market for federal travelers and the $119 rate, which has been in effect for several years, was too low, she says.
In addition the GSA has started a new contractual program with 38 hotels in the greater Washington area 19 of which are in the District. The hotel rates range from $101 to $150 per night for federal travelers and each contracted hotel must guarantee 5,000 available rooms annually.
GSA officials say the new Federal Premier Lodging Program works for federal employees because they are guaranteed a room when they come to Washington. The contracted hotels are likely to get more business being affiliated with the government program.
The Federal Premier Lodging Program debuted as a pilot program in Boston before expanding to five other major markets, including the Washington area, says Tim Burke, director of the travel management policy office at GSA. The other markets include Denver, Chicago, New York, Portland, Ore., and Seattle.
The GSA, which oversees government contracts, is in the process of signing on individual properties at dozens of other markets around the country where federal employees travel frequently.

Convention biz
Groups are continuing to sign on at the city's new convention center, which is scheduled to open in March 2003.
So far more than 150 events are scheduled to take place from 2003 to 2013, William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp., said at a press conference last week.
"We have incredible pent up demand for the new convention center," Mr. Hanbury says.
The new Washington Convention Center will contain 2.3 million square feet of space and is expected to attract 2.5 million visitors and bring $1.4 billion in economic stimulus a year.

What's new
Michael Jordan's restaurant, jordans , opened earlier this month at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, replacing the former Palomino Euro Bistro. The two-level restuarant, which seats 180 persons in the dining room and 80 more in the upper-level lounge, is owned and managed by JumpHigher, a restaurant group led by restaurateurs Jonathan Albert and David Zadikoff in collaboration with Michael Jordan.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. is opening four new stores in Maryland and Virginia on March 23. A 140,000-square-foot store will be located at Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis and a 126,000-square-foot store will open at Manassas Mall in Virginia. The other two locations are in Bel Air and Hagerstown, Md. The stores will employ between 130 and 200 persons.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884 or at [email protected]washingtontimes.com Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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