- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

The new Embassy Suites Hotel should have an excellent paint job.

Embassy Suites Hotels opened its largest hotel in the Washington area last week — a 382-suite establishment at 1000 K St. NW owned by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, a Washington labor union.

The hotel is a franchise of the Embassy Suites chain, which manages the building. The hotel features two-room suites, an indoor pool, a business center, a fitness center and in-room amenities that include Internet access, refrigerators and microwaves.

The building is near the Washington Convention Center, a move other Embassy Suites hotels are making.

“The convention center business is booming,” said Dawn Ray, an Embassy Suites spokeswoman. “It’s natural to have an Embassy Suites near or attached to a convention center. It’s naturally good business.”

Embassy Suites opened hotels near convention centers in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Dallas this year. It’s the chain’s eighth hotel in the Washington area.

The new hotel improves the lodging situation around the Convention Center, but there is still no hotel in the immediate area to provide the 1,220 rooms the Washington Convention Center Authority said it needs.

Talks on a convention center headquarters hotel have been under way since 1998.

The board of directors of the Washington Convention Center Authority selected a site for a headquarters hotel between Massachusetts Avenue and M Street on Ninth Street Northwest more than a year ago, and reaffirmed its decision in July.

“They feel that the Ninth Street site is the best location for ensuring continued long-term success of the Convention Center,” Thomas Mobley Jr., the authority’s general manager and chief executive officer, said at the time.

The board also considered building a hotel on the site of the old convention center.

The board directed its finance and development committee to put together a final report that, once approved by the board, will be submitted to the D.C. Council and Mayor Anthony A. Williams for approval.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development did not return calls for comment.

Virtual Fairfax

In Fairfax County, tourism officials released an online, virtual tour of the county last week to drum up visitors.

“The problem is that oftentimes people won’t select [a vacation destination] because they don’t know enough about it. Giving them a flavor of what kind of experiences they’ll have is a step in a positive direction,” said Arnie Quirion, president and chief executive officer of Visit Fairfax.

The panoramic tour, available at www.fxva.com, takes visitors through the county, from Mount Vernon to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

“One of the major findings of our market research was that people did not know they were in Fairfax County when visiting,” said Visit Fairfax Chairman Jim Wordsworth. “We are out to change that and turn the county into a well-known destination.”

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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