- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center has booked 1 million room nights for its 2,000-room hotel at National Harbor, breaking an industry record.

The Oxon Hill hotel isn’t scheduled to open until April. Its 1 million nights beats an industry record set by another Gaylord property, the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., in February 2002.

Gaylord National, set in the middle of the massive National Harbor project in Prince George’s County, has booked corporate meetings and association conventions through 2018. The heaviest concentration of the 1 million nights is within the next five years.

The corporate clients include Goodyear, Harley-Davidson and Procter & Gamble, and association clients include the American Geriatrics Society, the American Association for Cancer Research and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The largest convention will be about 3,000 people, according to Gaylord spokeswoman Amie Gorrell.

Some of the planned conventions are too large for the Gaylord to fully accommodate, so nights have been reserved at the 1,000 rooms in the other National Harbor hotels. And some have spread to other hotels across the Potomac in Alexandria, Crystal City or the District. Ms. Gorrell declined to say how many of these meetings have used hotels beyond National Harbor.

Washington hotel officials have expressed concern that the Gaylord — which is larger than any District hotel — is taking business that would have been coming into the city.

Gaylord says it’s not competing with the city but is bringing new business to the region.

About 70 percent — up from 65 percent three months ago — of the 1 million nights are from groups that rotate exclusively among the Gaylord properties, which includes sites in Florida, Tennessee and Texas, and thus are new to the Washington area.

John H. Graham IV, president and chief executive officer of the American Society of Association Executives, a Washington trade group, attributed the 1 million room nights to the fact that Gaylord’s hotel, meeting space and leisure space in one area “strategically addresses the unique and challenging logistical needs of associations holding annual meetings, conventions and trade shows.”

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