Announcing its third Opryland development outside Nashville, Gaylord Entertainment Co. unveiled plans for a 2,000-room destination hotel and convention center in Prince Georges County, Md. The Opryland Hotel Potomac, which is slated to offer 400,000 square feet of meeting space, will be the first phase of the 534-acre National Harbor development.
The hotel is expected to open in 2004. Plans call for a 24,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 18,000 square feet of retail space.
National Harbor is downriver from Reagan National Airport. Off the Capital Beltway, National Harbor will have a full interchange with interstates 495, 95, and 295, which connects the area directly to downtown Washington.
A Gaylord assessment of where meeting planners were looking for additional facilities put the D.C. area at the top of the list. Two other Opryland hotels are in development, one in Orlando (to open in 2002) and one in Grapevine, Texas (to open in 2003). Dave Jones, president of Gaylord's Hospitality and Attractions Group, says there are plans to open five to seven properties over the next decade.
At press time, Jo Waugh, conference manager with BPI Conferences in Silver Spring, Md., was nailing down the final details for Forbes magazine's Environmental Superconference, slated for late October at the Capital Hilton in Washington. "Forbes is gathering about 600 leaders in the public and private sectors for a look at where the nation is going with environmental and energy issues, public and private investment, water management, and technology," she explains. "It's being held close to Capitol Hill because we'll be drawing senators and other important policy makers." To avoid taking too much time from busy executives, she says, "We'll have some time for socializing and networking, but the only planned social event is a cocktail reception in the hotel."