VA Travel Guide
So far in our new Hotel Commandments series, we've had a top hotel butler hand down his secrets for pleasing picky luxury hotel guests, a hotelier dole out his hotel etiquette for hosting royal family members and a general manager advise on how to treat celebrities on location.
Today, we've got a special holiday-themed Hotel Commandments edition from Robin D. Carson, the general manager of the Kingsmill Resort, in historic (and utmost picturesque holiday setting) Williamsburg, Virginia.
If you're a hotel looking for ways to get in the holiday mood, look no further. If you're a family looking for a fun holiday getaway, check out what the Kingsmill is doing to make their place "look a lot like Christmas" this year.
Halsey Minor, the man who founded CNET.com is not only a crappy millionaire, he's a crappy hotelier too. Minor, who at one point was worth nearly half a billion dollars, filed for personal bankruptcy earlier this summer yet made news again yesterday when his posh Bel-Air estate went up for sale in a bankruptcy auction.
But being hotel nerds, we're more interested in the hotel he planned in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Minor created Minor Family Hotels sometime in the mid-2000s with the sole purpose of building a nine-story, 100 hotel room in downtown Charlottesville. However, by 2008, construction had stalled on the project and by September 2010, it had already been the subject of eight lawsuits in two different states. By then, Minor Family Hotels filed for bankruptcy.
To this day, the nearly-finished hotel remains untouched, although it did get snapped up for $6.25 million by Dewberry Capital last year. Even though the company has not touched the abandoned project since buying it, they reportedly still have plans to turn it into a functioning hotel and are even working on a new luxury hotel brand.
Sheila C. Johnson in her Southern belle best on The Salamander Resort's Grand Lawn
BET co-founder Sheila C. Johnson has had a heck of a busy August. Not only has she opened "The Butler", a star-studded movie featuring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mariah Carey, but next week on August 29th, she'll unveil her decade-long project--the Salamander Resort & Spa
It took ten years for the high powered executive to put together all the pieces necessary to build this 168-room luxury resort in Middleburg, Virginia. If you didn't know, Middleburg is a one-stoplight village just 35 minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport. It also gained fame when President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy started spending weekends there--Jackie riding horses on the Salamander property while JFK held press conferences in the village. Middleburg's also smack dab in the middle of northern Virginia's wine country.
So, one can see why Johnson would choose this location to build her dream hotel. The equestrian themed resort sits on 340 acres of land cultivated for horse and wine enthusiasts. Not only is there a 22-stall stable, riding ring, and trails on property, guests have the opportunity to board their own horses and take advantage of the full-service center, programming and clinics.
Washington D.C.-designer Thomas Pheasant, who has worked on Blair House (the president's guest house), the Hay-Adams Hotel and frequently appears in Architectural Digest, is the talent behind the Salamander's "horse-country" decor. The Living Room has two grand fireplaces and distressed oak-planked flooring and opens up onto a large stone terrace, which then leads to the dramatic Grand Lawn.
The Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia--Marriott's second and longest-operating hotel--let us know that the hotel is "finally moving into the 21st century" by joining with AT&T to put fast WiFi in all the guest rooms, suites, meeting spaces and the lobby.
Due to the switch, guests can get online faster and have up to 12 times more bandwidth and reliable connectivity. To celebrate the new wireless provider, the hotel is offering free WiFi for all guests in the guestrooms on May 16 and May 17. The only catch is the WiFi will only have a 2-megabytes per second (mbps) capacity.
Nothing says the mountains of Virginia like some floral decor!
Yup, 2012 is a leap year, which means not only do we gain a whole day in February, but also that we'll be seeing hotel rates 'leap' down in celebration of the quadrennial occasion. Like at the 3,000-acre Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, where guests are being offered a buy-one-get-one type deal for all of 2012.
With a booking period that lasts only from tomorrow until Friday January 6, anyone who books a room at the hotel will receive a second night starting at just $29. Gee, kinda makes us wish it was March 1 that's considered the leap day, and not February 29, so we could bring that number down to a nice clean $1. But we don't make up the calendars!
The fruits of the renovation debuted five brand new design concepts from the check-in area to the restaurant and of course, up in the guestrooms. We were able to peep at some of the new designs via computerized renderings but we've only just noticed an actual photo of Hilton's new Technology Lounge pictured right here.
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Making the internet rounds yesterday was the story of Joy Bricker, a 79-year-old woman who has spent the past ten years living at the TownePlace Suites Falls Church. And not 'living' as in, she commuted every week between the Virginia hotel and her home. No. The hotel itself was her home, and she loved it.
As she numbered off to the Washington Post the perks of living in a hotel—no utility bills, free breakfast, free wi-fi—we were suddenly struck with the idea that we, too, might enjoy the prospect of life in an extended stay property.
For starters, the cleanliness! We'd never have to do another house chore in our life. And if we chose our room carefully, we might wind up with a killer view right next to our bed—now that is something we'd never get tired of.
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Our own Eloise, Josh Flagg recently took a trip down to Virginia where he made friends with a very interesting hotel restaurant"employee." Read on to find out more!
Have you ever met a cow by the name of Faira who serves you cheese table-side? Well I have!
If you visit the uber-chic Inn at Little Wahington (which incidentally is not in Washington D.C., but in Virgina), you will have one of the best meals of your life in this quaint hotel.
The Inn at Little Washington is basically in the middle of nowhere. Driving there, I was sure I had made a wrong turn. Amongst all the goats and tractors, and old abandoned barns, I was sure I was not on my way to a Relais & Chateaux five-diamond resort but alas, all of a sudden, there it was!
This is a day that HotelChatter has long been anticipating--the day when Hilton Hotels & Resorts reveals a new look for their hotels. And all that should be going down today at the Hilton McLean in Virginia.
That's where Hilton will unveil five new brand design concepts ranging from the check-in area to the restaurant and up in the guestrooms. These design options will not be rolled out immediately in all Hilton hotels but they will be an option for owners to place in new and existing hotels if they want.
We've been waiting for Hilton to up their game, especially after their competitors Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt threw down the gauntlet by deflagging under-performing hotels and introducing new brands like Aloft, Element, Edition and Andaz Hotels.
It's not often hotels beat their projected opening dates, and it's even more remarkable from the Renaissance Arlington Capital View because the hotel
is already* will likely be LEED certified, a process that's ordinarily more complicated than Charlie Sheen's interview schedule. Last we heard, the place would open in April; they're now taking rezzies for March 9 and on.
The Renaissance corporate blog says the opening date for the hotel—situated a four-mile cab or short Metro ride from the heart of D.C.—is March 9 and promises "grand opening deals." Our initial test bookings revealed no such thing, with weekday rates starting from $299 whether you're shopping for next week or April. But punching in promo code SB4 reveals weekend stays for as little as $139, including breakfast for up to two adults and two kids.
Btw, it must be coincidental but there's some humor in the fact that the hotel's website URL contains the word "waspy." Doesn't get more Arlington than that!
*Update: The hotel's PR writes to clarify that "the Renaissance Arlington Capital View has been designed to receive a LEED Silver Certification, which we hope to receive later in the year," meaning it hasn't actually secured the LEED oak leaves just yet. They also confirm an opening date of March 9—it was initially listed on the corporate blog as March 16—putting the property ahead of original schedule.
Whichever way things swing in 2012, one thing's for sure: a new Renaissance is headed D.C. way. Well, a Renaissance Hotel, at any rate. The new hotel, scheduled to open next March or April is actually in Arlington, VA, but conveniently close to Reagan National Airport and just over the Potomac from D.C.
The Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel will be LEED-certified and, according to its website, have "the soul of a boutique hotel with the location and amenities suited for business in and around the nation's capital."
Note: We are working on trying to bump up the volume on the vid a bit. Stay tuned!
The Cambria Suites Roanoke in Virgina has filmed a very special edition of Pitch Your Hotel just for us. Here is Joy Barlow, director of sales, letting us know why guests should stay Cambria Suites on their next trip.
Here are some highlights--all-suite accommodations (see below), a huge lobby space for socializing, an indoor pool and spa and our fave, free WiFi. As is to be expected, all this goodness means rates are a bit higher than the other Choice Hotels, around $129 a night. But new hotel + suite + free WiFi = A-OK in HotelChatter's books.
Have you stayed at a Cambria Suites lately? Tell us what you thought!