The Capital Region

Where Exceptional Ideas Take Shape

capital region 2015

Simply no other locality can tie the past, present and future together so effectively for association events as the powerhouse Capital Region, which is anchored by Washington, D.C., and surrounded by Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Associations meeting in this area will be immersed in some of the nation’s most precious history, experience the best in infrastructure and interact with the brightest innovators of our time.

Washington, D.C.: Capital Gains

There are many benefits to meeting in Washington, D.C. As the nation’s capital, D.C. is already headquarters for hundreds of associations and a coveted gathering destination to thousands more looking to push their group’s agenda with government movers and shakers.

The 2.3 million-square-foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center is one of the city’s main meeting hubs. Adjacent is the silver LEED–certified Marriott Marquis/Washington, D.C., which opened last year. According to Events DC, Marriott’s opening upped citywide bookings by two million room nights through 2020. Some of the more recent and future scheduled conventions include the Society for Human Resource Management, and Otakon, the Japanese and East Asian anime and culture convention, as well as those of the Credit Union National Association, the American College of Cardiology, the Association of the U.S. Army and the Society for Neuroscience.

Other event venues include the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, the Library of Congress, the J.W. Marriott, Jr.–ASAE Conference Center and on the National Mall (home to the reopened Washington Monument) is the historic American Pharmacists Association’s Headquarters Building.

Large creative spaces that welcome association gatherings include the Newseum, the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square, conveniently located across from the convention center and offering 75,000 square feet of space. Last year, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference held many of its sessions at the convention center and then its culminating, two-day outdoor celebration at the Carnegie Library with 7,000 attendees.

Other off-site options include the National Building Museum and the Folger Shakespeare Library, Union Station, and the Phillips Collection. Entertainment Cruises can host up to 600 for receptions or up to 500 for banquets.

On the hotel scene, planners can choose from famous or infamous hotels. The Watergate Hotel is on track to reopen this summer following a $125 million reinvention that focuses on bold mid-century modern design (with staff uniforms to match, created by the costume designer of the TV series “Mad Men”). Plans include 338 guest rooms and 27,000 square feet of meeting space. There will also be a rooftop bar, a whiskey bar and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace that faces the Potomac River.

In DuPont Circle, the Embassy Row Hotel has undergone a multiphase, $15 million redo. It features The Rooftop, a 4,130-square-foot bar and pool area. Additionally, a 100-seat restaurant and a coffee shop were introduced this spring. Nearby, the Mayflower Renaissance has completed a $20 million renovation of its guest rooms and will drop the Renaissance part of its name when the hotel becomes a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection on July 1.

Georgetown is home to the Fairmont/Washington D.C.-Georgetown. Farther north, properties in Woodley Park include the Washington Marriott Wardman Park and the nearby Omni Shoreham Hotel, with refreshed event space, including a 2,300-seat theater.

Northern Virginia: Appealing to the Masses

Across the Potomac River from D.C., Arlington is an ideal destination in its own right for small to mid-sized groups and home to notable attractions such as the new Arlington National Cemetery.

The neighborhood of Ballston is a magnet for meetings with top venues like the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Conference Center, the Executive Conference Center at Liberty Center, and the LEED-certified Virginia Tech Research Center. Just steps from the Ballston Metro station is the Westin Arlington Gateway, which renovated its event space earlier this year.

Two city venues dedicated to the arts also welcome events: Artisphere, a complex with seven spaces and the Arlington Arts Center, which can host up to 250.

Farther south is Crystal City, where the reopened Westin/Crystal City benefited from an extensive redesign.

West of Arlington, Fairfax County is so loaded with history it’s difficult to find a venue that isn’t steeped in lore. Groups as diverse as the Veterinary Cancer Society, the American Wine Society and the International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists have all met in Fairfax recently, with organizers citing its affordability, its proximity to Dulles International Airport, the hands-on attitude of Visit Fairfax staff and the flexibility of local hotels as reasons to return. Notable choices include the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks, which features a redesigned, 5,000-square-foot atrium, six new guest rooms and a new restaurant, and the Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes, with a revamped, 4,000-square-foot ballroom and other refreshed meeting spaces.

And heading between Fairfax County and D.C. just got easier with last summer’s opening of five new Washington Metrorail Silver Line stations, with stops in McLean, Tysons Corner and Reston.

Tysons Corner is a booming locale, home to the Tysons Corner Center, one of the nation’s first major malls. Both the mall and the new metro station are connected to the newly opened Hyatt Regency/Tysons Corner. The new Convene/Tysons Corner, which is connected to the mall, offers a half-dozen rooms, the largest able to accommodate up to 200. Nearby, the renovated Sheraton Tysons Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton/Tysons Corner offers event space.

Minutes away, in Vienna, is Wolf Trap, the only national park dedicated to the performing arts. Its Barns at Wolf Trap are available for seminars, business meals and receptions for up to 160. The Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens can host upwards of 190 for seated functions and up to 300 for receptions.

In Reston, popular meeting hotels include the Hyatt Regency/Reston and the Sheraton/Reston. Just west, in Herndon, the Hyatt/Dulles renovated it guest rooms last year. (It is a long-time favorite of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.) Also available is the newly renovated Crowne Plaza/Dulles Airport.

Just south of Dulles Airport, Chantilly is home to the 100,000-square-foot Dulles Expo & Conference Center and the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which welcomes events. North of the airport, in Dulles, is the Dulles Executive Conference & Training Center.

About 18 miles north, in Loudoun County, large groups might opt to meet at the National Conference Center in Leesburg or the Lansdowne Resort, which has added a third ballroom to its 50,000-square-foot conference center. In Middleburg, the Salamander Resort & Spa’s event spaces include the century-old stone Stallion Barn

Nicknamed “Virginia’s Wine Country,” numerous event-friendly wineries await in Loudon County. This summer, two are expanding their meetings capabilities. Leesburg’s new Stone Tower Winery plans to open a new event center overlooking the vineyards, with spaces for upwards of 100. And Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville recently opened a new event facility with a ballroom and two meeting rooms.

Alexandria, just five miles from Washington, D.C., is celebrating a banner year for meetings. The city offers a mix of both major brand hotels and event-savvy boutique properties and new customized programs created by Visit Alexandria are also adding to the city’s popularity with planners. Its “Meetings Made Extraordinary” campaign matches group preferences to give delegates a personalized taste of Alexandria’s history and culture. Examples include the Haunted Dine-Around and the Grain-to-Glass Tour & Tasting Experience at the Port City Brewing Company. In addition, the new MeetAlexVA app offers planners instant destination and events information, and the new Volunteer Alexandria program provides service-oriented groups with options.

Newly renovated hotels with meeting space include the Hotel Monaco/Alexandria, the Westin/Alexandria and the Hilton/Alexandria Old Town, which hosted the National Farmers Union in 2014. In March, a new Hilton Garden Inn opened in Old Town with a boardroom. The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center hosted the National Fusion Center Association in 2014. Other venues include the Mary M. Gates Learning Center and the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

One of the region’s most popular attractions is George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The estate of the nation’s first president includes the Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center, with 23 theaters and galleries, and the 200-seat Robert H. & Clarice Smith Auditorium. Nearby, the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant has space for up to 26.

Farther south, there are two new hotels in Woodbridge, a Hilton Garden Inn and a Homewood Suites. In Triangle, the National Museum of the Marine Corps can host events of up to 650.

About 16 miles west of Woodbridge is Manassas, known for Civil War battle sites. This fall, the 40,000-square-foot Autobahn Indoor Speedway is scheduled to open with Italian-made go-karts that can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. The indoor facility will include meeting space and team-building activities for up to several hundred people.

The newly renovated Comfort Suites/Manassas Battlefield Park is popular with groups including the National School Boards Association, the National Defense Transportation Association and the National Association of Rocketry. The Hylton Performing Arts Center offers 85,000 square feet of space.

Maryland: Where the Past is Present

Nature’s beauty nicely complements high-energy attractions and world-class meeting options in the state that gave birth to the national anthem, the railroad industry and other national treasures.

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 11 miles south of Washington, D.C., in National Harbor, is one of the region’s largest convention resorts, and a $20 million expansion is making it even larger. This September, outdoor event space will increase to 39,000 square feet, and in the fall of 2016, a new, 24,000-square-foot ballroom building is set to open on the banks of the Potomac. The newest option in the area is the 192-room AC Hotel Washington D.C. at National Harbor, which opened this spring with 3,700 square feet of space.

East of the Capital Beltway, in Largo, the Radisson/Largo-Washington, D.C. is scheduled to be reflagged as the DoubleTree by Hilton/Largo-Washington D.C. in late June following a redesign.

Eight miles northeast of D.C., in Hyattsville, the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center just completed a major overhaul of its guest rooms and added a 250-seat conference dining room and a ballroom. The hotel is adjacent to the University of Maryland University College.

North of the capital, but within the beltway, groups can meet at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, and in nearby Silver Spring is the two-year-old DoubleTree by Hilton. Other venues include the Fillmore concert hall, the AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center and the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza.

From Silver Spring, it’s eight miles to North Bethesda, home to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. Five miles west, in Potomac, is the Bolger Conference Center. And in Rockville, VisArts at Rockville and the Best Western Plus Rockville Hotel & Suites offer 3,000 square feet and 4,200 square feet of event space, respectively.

In Gaithersburg, groups can meet at the Smokey Glen Farm and the Montgomery County Agricultural Center. For lodging, the new Hampton Inn & Suites has 125 guest rooms and a 600-square-foot boardroom. Just west, in Germantown, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites is connected to the two-year-old Highlands at Germantown Conference & Banquet Center, which can host up to 250.

Groups who haven’t met recently in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital city, will be pleasantly surprised by the changes. The downtown Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel has completed major renovations. Other meeting properties—a DoubleTree by Hilton, a Westin, and a Loews, among others—continue to serve as popular choices for groups including, recently, the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards and the Maryland Association of Osteopathic Physicians.

New venues include the 18th-century James Brice House, now open for public tours and events for the first time in its nearly 300-year history. And the Hidden View Farms Manor House & Gardens, once available only to nonprofits, now welcomes association and corporate events of up to 300. And at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Akerson Tower club level is expected to open this summer with conference and special-event space for up to 200. And as the city is home to the U.S. Naval Academy, a sailing party is a must. Annapolis Sailing Cruises and Annapolis Tours by Watermark offer options for groups.

Just south of town, in Edgewater, is the Historic London Town & Gardens. Meanwhile, east of Annapolis, in Stevensville, the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club is adding accommodations to complement its popular venues for upwards of 220 people. The new Inn at the Chesapeake Bay Club is expected to open in early 2016 with 54 guest rooms, a restaurant and a banquet space for up to 120.

In Chesapeake Beach, the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa recently added tons of new white sand to its beach, along with a dance floor and a waterfront event area. A short drive farther south, in Prince Frederick, is Running Hare Vineyard and in nearby St. Leonard, the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum overlooks Patuxent River and has several event sites. Finally, in the waterfront community of Solomons, meeting options include the Holiday Inn Solomons Conference Center & Marina and the Calvert Marine Museum.

From Annapolis it’s just 30 miles to Baltimore, which bounced back quickly from the recent turmoil in the city. In fact, a meeting held in the city by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine May 3–6 exceeded expectations, according to Joyce Paschall, CAE, the group’s director of education and meetings, in a video posted on the Visit Baltimore site.

The city is home to the Star-Spangled Banner, Edgar Allan Poe and other historic icons. To better showcase its unique treasures, Visit Baltimore created the Signature Experiential Program, which includes 14 behind-the-scenes tours that range from visits to the site of the battle that inspired the national anthem to a discourse on the city’s beloved Neapolitan-style pizzas. “These new offerings are perfect to complement a truly memorable event in Baltimore,” said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. But history is only one of the things that attracts attendees. Baltimore’s wide range of hotels (and hotel rates) and its number of evening activities made it a great choice for the Association of Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology, according to Nicole Guy, who arranged a conference there.

When it’s time for business, the 1.2 million-square-foot Baltimore Convention Center is connected to both a Hilton Hotel and the newly renovated Hyatt Regency. Nearby, the National Aquarium has event space for up to 3,000.

A host of sports attractions add to the fun, most of which are available for events and tours. Venues include the Sports Legends Museum and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, which offer space for up to 1,500 and 300, respectively. The 71,000-seat M&T Bank Stadium and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame & Museum also welcome groups.

New and updated hotels keep the city fresh for attendees. The Ivy Hotel is expected to open this summer in a mansion within the Mount Vernon neighborhood. Plans include 18 accommodations, a restaurant and common areas that can be used for small gatherings. The Hyatt Regency/Baltimore recently completed a $20 million renovation project, the largest in the hotel’s 25-year history. And last year the Lord Baltimore Hotel finished a major restoration.

On the south side of the city, the $400 million Horseshoe Baltimore Casino opened in August with event space for up to 1,200. Farther south is Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which continues to undergo renovations. Work connecting the international Concourse E with Concourse D is expected to be complete in 2017. In Pumphrey, the Comfort Inn & Suites/BWI Airport has reopened following a makeover. And a new 96-room Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hanover has meeting space for up to 40 people. In Linthicum Heights, a larger option is the renovated Conference Center at the Maritime Institute.

North of the city, in Hunt Valley, Wyndham’s Hunt Valley Inn has completed a $15 million redesign, adding a new event lawn to its existing space.

On the upper banks of Chesapeake Bay, in the Cecil County city of North East, groups can meet at the renovated Upper Chesapeake Ballroom (formerly the North East Fire Hall), the Winery at Elk Manor or in North Bay Adventure’s Guest House.

In Howard County, west of Baltimore, groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association have been meeting in the area for 30 years. Popular destinations include Ellicott City, which offers the Turf Valley Resort & Spa, and Columbia, home to the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel.

In Frederick, 50 miles northwest of Baltimore, meeting-friendly hotels include the Country Inn & Suites and the Hampton Inn, both newly upgraded. The Business Factory of Frederick has 9,000 square feet of event space. For retreats, the 155-acre ThorpeWood near Thurmont has event space.

In Hagerstown, the Hager Hall Conference & Event Center has 17,000 square feet of meeting space and is connected to a Clarion Hotel. Another 110 miles to the west is McHenry, where the Wisp Resort offers a number of recreational options in addition to meeting space.

For groups who prefer the oceanfront to the mountains, Ocean City sets the perfect scene. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center has 182,200 square feet of space and from there, it’s only two miles to the city’s boardwalk and beaches.

Just 30 miles inland, is Salisbury—also not far from the shores of Chesapeake Bay. Three newly renovated hotels in the area welcome smaller groups: the La Quinta Inn & Suites/Salisbury, the Hampton Inn/Salisbury-Fruitland and the Courtyard/Salisbury.

For larger gatherings, the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center offers 47,000 square feet of space and Salisbury University has 5,000 square feet of space. Other local choices include the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, which can host up to 100, or Perdue Stadium, a minor league ballpark that can host groups of 30 in its diamond-side dining area. Ten miles south, in Eden, the Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery can host events of up to 200 people.

Power Points

Every association calls upon its history to move forward and grow. So it makes sense to choose a destination that pays similar attention to its past and present. In Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland, delegates can’t help but be impressed by how the success of this region has been inspired by its rich and glorious past.