(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) A luxury hotel, skyline view park, and entertainment venue part of the campus surrounding Capital One’s new headquarters are slated to open this year.

Construction crews are still building at the Capital One Center site alongside the Capital Beltway in Tysons, but Tysons Reporter has confirmed that The Watermark Hotel, the development’s 25-floor, 300-suite luxury hotel, is scheduled to open on Sept. 21.

The Perch, the outdoor park sitting atop Capital One Hall that will feature a beer garden anchored by Starr Hill Brewery, will open in August, and the performance venue itself will open to the public on Oct. 2, spokesperson Andrea Khoury told Tysons Reporter.

“It’s really a high-end experience,” Khoury said of The Watermark, noting that the final pieces are now coming together.

The following details for the hotel were also released:

The property will feature studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites with furnishings that are similar to an apartment. Each over-sized suite will include a pantry style kitchen with mini-fridge, microwave and coffee service. The suites offer large work areas, well-appointed bathrooms, digital flat screen televisions, complimentary high-speed internet, and a sophisticated, yet warm home-like décor. With stone countertops, tile and carpeted floors, and upscale furnishings, the suites will present a comfortable environment that is very functional for both short-term and longer-stay guests.

The Watermark Hotel offers a full, self-service breakfast serving a seasonal selection of local produce and baked goods, classic breakfast staples, and elevated coffee offerings. Additional hotel amenities include a business center, 1,600 square-feet of meeting space, a well-equipped fitness center, ample parking spaces, a self-serve market and sundry, and an expansive outdoor patio with appropriate seating and direct access to the 1.2 acre skypark–The Perch. The hotel also offers a full-service bar featuring craft cocktails, a wide selection of local beers and wines, appetizers, salads, small plates and entrees with an international flare.

B. F. Saul Company Hospital Group of Bethesda, Maryland announced today (Monday) that it will operate the hotel, which will be owned by Capital One and have no franchise affiliation.

“We are delighted to partner with Capital One to introduce this one-of-a-kind hotel in the heart of the Capital One Center campus,” B.F. Saul Company President Mark Carrier said. “Our dynamic team of hospitality professionals look forward to doing everything possible to exceed the expectations of the Capital One community.”

Capital One’s new headquarters (1600 Capital One Drive) was constructed adjacent to the company’s previous one and was completed in 2018, becoming the tallest occupied structure in the D.C. region.

Capital One Center occupies more than 24 acres near the McLean Metro station. The first component of the mixed-use development arrived in November with the opening of Wegmans.

Since announcing its first confirmed performer earlier this month, Capital One Hall has started to fill out its inaugural season lineup with a mix of musicians and comedians, including the country band Little Big Town for the opening weekend. The facility will contain a 1,600-seat main theater and a 225-seat black-box theater called The Vault.

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Residents of The Boro’s Rise and Bolden Apartments will soon be treated to the luxuries of a hotel to go with the units’ $5,500-per-month price tag.

Pop-up hotel operator WhyHotel announced this morning (Tuesday) that it has formed a partnership with The Meridian Group, the real estate company that owns and manages The Boro, to introduce a “hospitality-infused apartment living concept” to the Tysons development.

WhyHotel has run a temporary pop-up hotel out of Rise since December 2019, allowing guests to occupy unleased units in the 33-story building, but this partnership will give the company a permanent presence in The Boro.

“The Meridian Group and The Boro are excited to continue our partnership with WhyHotel in their new phase,” The Meridian Group Partner and CIO Gary Block said. “We believe this new residential offering will enhance our residential community at The Boro and will continue to provide the highest placemaking environment in Tysons.”

The Rise and Bolden high-rise buildings opened in September 2019, bringing more than 500 residential units to Meridian’s 3.5 million square-foot mixed-use complex on Greensboro Drive.

According to WhyHotel’s press release, its “Hospitality Living” concept will essentially bring hotel-style services — such as on-demand cleaning and linen and laundry services — to Rise and Bolden residents. Other new amenities will include furnished units for both residents and guests and a customized design through furniture rental option.

The new concept will officially launch at the Rise and Bolden Apartments in June.

WhyHotel says it is “pursuing additional opportunities to expand” after bringing a new pop-up hotel to Miami on May 1. The company will also open a pop-up hotel in D.C. — its fifth in the region — on June 1.

“This partnership is an important step in the future of the intersection of residential living and hospitality as it is the first property to house the WhyHotel Hospitality Living experience,” WhyHotel CEO Jason Fudin said. “We’re proud to work with The Meridian Group to bring this innovative asset class to life for residents.”

Photo courtesy WhyHotel

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m. on 5/19/2021) Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Tysons continues to grow. While there are many new buildings being built, Tysons Reporter reached out to developers on some of the bigger projects for updates on their construction timelines.

Monarch

A 1o1-unit luxury condominium high-rise, The Monarch is part of the 19-acre Arbor Row mixed-use development near Tysons Galleria. Construction stalled last year after developer Renaissance Centro parted ways with its construction contractor.

While there is no official timeline for completion, a spokesperson for the project told Tysons Reporter that a new contractor has been selected and should be announced soon. Once the contractor is announced and construction begins, the owners recently told frustrated residents that construction should be complete in 21 to 24 months.

“It is moving forward and we are still selling the condominiums,” Kami Kraft, vice president of the marketing firm The Mayhood Company, said.

The Mather

Also part of the Arbor Row development, The Mather is a Life Plan Community that will open in two phases, with the first coming in 2023. It will have apartments with access to assisted living, memory care suites, and medical services for residents 62 and older. Phase 1 is already 80% pre-sold, and phase 2 pre-construction sales will begin soon.

The existing structure on the site was demolished in May 2020, and work on various public improvements, including a relocation of site fences, temporary reconfiguration of traffic lanes, and sewer system upgrades, began the week of March 8.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mather’s parent company Mather created an “interdisciplinary” team to support staff and residents across its facilities and develop infection control protocols.

“These conversations have led to enhancements that will be seen in the design and operations at The Mather in Tysons, such as HVAC systems which will include UV light purification and 100% of air exhausted to the exterior,” Mather Senior Vice President of Sales Gale Morgan said.

Capital One Center

The second phase of construction is currently underway at Capital One Center, a 24.25-acre complex with dining, shopping, outdoor activities, a movie theater, and more attractions coming.

While slightly inconvenienced by the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupting shipments of materials and equipment, the lack of traffic helped construction pick up the pace, according to Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith.

The next big opening will be The Perch, an outdoor space atop Capital One Hall with food trucks, a Biergarten, live music, and more. The skypark is set to open this July, while Capital One Hall — a performance venue with a 1,600-seat theater, a 250-seat black box theater, and other event spaces — is scheduled to open in October.

The 300-room Watermark Hotel is slated to open in late 2021 as an “all-suite lodging facility” set to host “associates of Capital One as well as corporate and leisure guests visiting the region,” according to a job posting made by B.F. Saul Hospitality, which will be managing the property. Read More

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Two former competitive swimmers, who are now partners in business and marriage, are opening a year-round, warm-water swimming school in Tysons.

Called SafeSplash, the school is located inside the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner (7920 Jones Branch Drive) and will be open four days a week, co-owner Jennifer Lilintahl says.

SafeSplash is a national swim school franchise with more than 100 locations. It is also the official swim school provider of USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming that chooses the U.S. Olympic swimming team.

This is Jennifer and Michael Lilintahl’s fourth SafeSplash in the D.C. area, their second inside a hotel, and their first in Virginia. The couple chose the McLean area because there are relatively few conveniently located options for swim schools, Jennifer says.

The Lilintahls have also tapped into an underutilized resource for swimming schools: hotel swimming pools. Now, their idea is paving the way for other franchisees.

After the Washington Sports Club that housed one of their two Bethesda schools closed for good last summer, the couple moved it to a Hilton Hotel in D.C.’s Friendship Heights area. They now serve as a resource for SafeSplash franchisees interested in working with hotels.

Building a dedicated swimming facility is expensive, and available bodies of water are hard to come by, Jennifer says. Meanwhile, many hotels boast rarely used pools.

“It has worked out well during COVID-19. Hospitality is having such challenges, so this is an extra stream of revenue for them and a body of water for us,” she said. “It’s a win-win.”

The Lilintahls opened their first location in 2017 on Rockville Pike in North Bethesda and soon after, expanded to a Washington Sports Club in downtown Bethesda. They opened a franchise in D.C.’s Columbia Heights area in 2019.

“It’s been a long journey,” Jennifer, who swam competitively through high school, said.

She credits her husband with proposing the idea to run their own swimming schools. Michael Lilintahl went to college on a full-ride athletic scholarship for swimming and represented his home country, Venezuela, in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She says he wanted to help others unlock opportunities in life through the sport.

“It was always a passion of his to combine his love for swimming with a business,” she said. “Swimming took him so far in life.”

The Tysons SafeSplash will first open its doors on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Ahead of opening day and for a limited time afterward, the Lilintahls are offering discounts: 20% off for eight consecutive weeks of lessons or 50% off one class.

To keep clients safe during the pandemic, the couple is only offering private and semi-private lessons, which are capped at three children (typically siblings or kids in the same “pod”). Every instructor wears a silicone, water-proof mask, and many are doubling up with surgical masks, she said.

The school will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Lilintahl

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The Marriott TownePlace Suites Falls Church hotel is under new management as Sonesta Simply Suites Falls Church (205 Hillwood Ave).

The pandemic has hit Fairfax County’s hospitality industry hard, resulting in a huge loss in revenue and widespread lay-offs. But one hotel brand called Sonesta International Hotels has steadily been acquiring hotels during unprecedented drops in travel.

Sonesta acquired the TownePlace Suites in Falls Church and 97 other hotels affiliated with Marriott in October because the hotelier had fallen behind on payments, according to the properties’ owner, Service Properties Trust (SVC).

A Massachusetts-based real estate investment company, SVC says it ended its 26-year relationship with Marriott last fall after attempting and failing to collect $11 million in missed payments from the hotel chain. SVC owns a 34% share of Sonesta.

“We believe that the rebranding of these hotels with Sonesta will benefit SVC as an owner of Sonesta, create greater flexibility in managing these hotels through these challenging market conditions and have a positive impact on this portfolio’s performance in the future,” SVC President and CEO John Murray said in a statement last fall.

The international hotel chain lost 122 hotels, which had collectively generated only $2.6 million in eight months, the press release said.

Sonesta took over the management of 98 of the 122 hotels. The remaining 24 hotels were sold for more than $150 million.

“This is a momentous time for the company, underscoring the continued growth and amplifying the long-term success of Sonesta and its branded hotels,” Sonesta says on its website.

Sonesta has experienced 350% growth in less than six months, and will soon have 300 operating properties across seven brands operating in North and South America, Egypt, and St. Maarten, according to a press release from Sonesta.

The D.C. area saw hotel occupancy rates drop below 50% last year, Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar previously told Tysons Reporter. Fairfax County saw $9.1 million in hotel revenue in May 2020, compared to $70 million in May 2018, and that figure did not include related services, such as catering.

Sonesta’s growth comes amid early signs of recovery in the hard-hit hotel industry, including a sudden spike in occupancy rates ahead of the Inauguration last month. Still, travel is not projected to bounce back fully until 2024.

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Hotel rooms have suddenly become difficult to come by in Fairfax County ahead of Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

That is a welcome problem for the lodging sector of the hospitality industry, which has been in a downward spiral since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a slew of travel restrictions and stay-at-home health guidance.

But this inauguration will be unlike any other in recent political history. The general public’s ability to attend President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s Oath of Office ceremony has been sharply curtailed due to the pandemic, but hotels are hosting another large group of guests: the National Guard.

Up to 21,000 members of the National Guard have been authorized to come to D.C. and secure the city ahead of potential attacks, after Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. Fairfax County hotels are reportedly housing some of the 15,000 guard members already in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“We are indeed hearing anecdotally from hoteliers that there has been an uptick in reservations compared with the past 11 months, but we are unable to ascertain whether those reservations are directly related to the inauguration and/or the National Guard or people who are visiting for leisure or business travel,” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said in a statement.

The pandemic and ensuing shutdowns devastated the hospitality industry across the U.S. In Virginia, COVID-19 has resulted in the loss of about 100,000 jobs, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

In November, the AHLA found that 71% of its member hotels said “they won’t make it another six months without further federal assistance given current and projected travel demand.” 47% of respondents said they would be forced to close hotels.

Many hotels were forced to layoff more staff this winter, even as access to the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program has expanded to all lenders.

But the employees who remain taking the sudden surge of guests in stride, Biggar explains.

“What we do know is that our hotels have been working tirelessly, even with staff shortages and for long hours, to ensure that our guests are treated with the utmost hospitality,” he said.

Photo courtesy Hilton McLean Tysons Corner

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(Updated on 11/12/2020) Capital One expects to unveil a 1.2-acre sky park with food trucks, a bar and beer garden, games, a dog run and an amphitheater in time for summer 2021.

Nested on top of the newly open Wegmans grocery store, The Perch is part of the second building to be completed in the 24.25-acre Capital One complex. Two more parts of the project are slated to open in the fall of 2021: the Watermark Hotel and the Capital One Hall.

From The Perch, Capital One Center Managing Director Jonathan Griffith said the public will “view Tysons from a completely different vantage point.”

For him, that perspective applies to the company’s mission to mix employees and Tysons residents.

“We are trying to separate from the notion that this is for only Capital One employees,” he said, citing The Star, a shopping and dining destination inside the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility in Frisco, Texas, as inspiration.

The Watermark Hotel and two residential buildings will surround the Perch. The 300-room hotel will be managed by B.F. Saul Hospitality, whose flagship property is The Hay-Adams luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Watermark will no longer be one of two hotels on campus, after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a request to change a planned hotel into an office building.

The Watermark Hotel is slated to open next fall, while construction on the residential towers could begin in 10 years, Griffith said.

Until the residential towers go up, semi-permanent installations will “activate the space,” including an old-school double-decker London tour bus and an Airstream converted into food trucks, Griffith said.

From the Sky Park, people can see the glassy Capital One headquarters, completed in 2018, as well as a 30-story office building with two floors of retail.

These developments fit with the trifecta of “live, work and play,” but Griffith said a fourth component, “culture,” is missing.

To fill that gap is Capital One Hall, with a 1,600-seat theater and 250-seat black box theater, as well as vaulted event spaces, large restrooms, plentiful concession areas and an expansive coat room, he said.

Capital One Hall General Manager Jamey Hines described both performance venues as “tight in feeling and room focus, but not uncomfortable.”

“People on the edges have just a good view and the audience won’t feel far away from the performer,” he said.

Having two options impacts the performer, too. “I’ve found that you have to create the room, so people achieve in the room, through seating,” Hines said.

Capital One, Fairfax County, and ARTSFAIRFAX are working together to ensure county agencies and Fairfax County Public Schools get access to 15% of the hall’s bookings at discounted rates. Already, the manager is looking to fill dates for 2022-2023.

Hines has mapped out some events and is gauging what people want to see.

The pandemic has given Capital One Hall more opportunities to be added to a multi-city tour, but he anticipates the Hall will be a bigger destination for one-time shows and productions. Hines encouraged those who are interested in dates to join the email list at capitalonehall.com.

Capital One Hall and The Perch will be open to weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, galas and functions for nonprofits, concerts and speaker series, Capital One Center marketing and community affairs manager Meghan Trossen said.

The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the building pace, now unencumbered by traffic, but the supply chain has been disrupted, impacting shipments of materials and equipment, Griffith says.

Through it all, he said Fairfax County has done “an incredible job” accommodating construction during the pandemic, implementing measures such as inspections via FaceTime to keep employees safe.

Photo courtesy Capital One

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Barry Biggar, President and CEO of Visit Fairfax, has a somewhat frank assessment of the state of the hospitality industry in Fairfax: not great.

“There’s one particular industry that’s been devastated, and that’s travel and tourism,” Biggar said, “and when people aren’t travelling, there are many elements that are affected.”

Biggar isn’t alone in that assessment. In an Economic Advisory Commission meeting, local hospitality industry leaders spoke with Biggar and members of the Board of Supervisors about the impact the pandemic has had on hotels and other hospitality services.

“This has perhaps been the most heart-rending experience of my entire career,” said Mark Carrier, representing DoubleTree Hotel in Tysons. “Many hotels are paying to stay open. In Fairfax, all hotels combined had an occupancy of just 32 percent over last three months, less than half a year ago. Same period in 2019 was 76 percent. Revenue has declined by 73 percent across the entire county. Cash flow has evaporated basically, operators fighting to sustain their business. Frankly, the sustained nature of the crisis has been a source of stress.”

Biggar told Tysons Reporter that the D.C. area, including Fairfax, is one of four regions in the country seeing occupancy below 50%.

“From middle of March to end of August, hotel revenue (generated here in our county) has seen a loss of $278,987,000, just between mid-March and August,” Biggar said. “May is generally a good month. In May of 2018, the hotel revenue in Fairfax County was $70 million. This May, that figure was $9.1 million.”

Biggar noted that those figures are just based on revenue from occupancy and don’t include the total loss from related services, like food and beverage or catering.

“When you add those up, it’s significant,” Biggar said.

Read More

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Former Governor Eyeing Run for Seat — “Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe filed paperwork with the State Board of Elections Thursday to seek the governorship in 2021 but has not made a decision yet whether he will actually run for office. In the paperwork, McAuliffe listed himself as a Democratic candidate for governor.” [Patch]

Unemployment Update — “After two successive weeks of significant drops, initial claims for unemployment benefits increased slightly in Northern Virginia last week.” [Inside NoVa]

Traffic Alert for Gallows Road Over I-66 — “Installation of bridge beams for the new Gallows Road Bridge over I-66 will require reducing Gallows Road over I-66 to one travel lane in each direction from 11 a.m. Saturday, August 22, through 8 a.m. Monday, August 24.” [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Lender Could Seize Vienna Hotel — “A portfolio of 48 hotels nationwide, including one in Vienna and several others in Virginia and Maryland, could be seized in a $780 million foreclosure lawsuit.” [Washington Business Journal]

Unemployment Benefits Bump? — “Virginia is applying for federal funds made available by President Donald Trump to supplement state unemployment benefits by $300 a week, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration said Wednesday.” [Inside NoVa]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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Capital One can now move forward with adding more office space for its employees at the Capital One Campus in Tysons.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the proposal, which swaps a planned hotel with the office building, yesterday.

Gregory Riegle, the lawyer representing Capital One, told the supervisors that replacing the previously approved, but unbuilt, hotel with office space will increase economic development near the Metro.

Riegle said that the hotel had faced challenges prior to the pandemic, which the pandemic exacerbated. Riegle did not specify what the issues were.

While the pandemic’s impact on office use is still undetermined, Riegle said that the hotel-to-office swap will support the long-term vision for the Capital One Campus. Riegle said that Capital One intends to use the new office building just for its employees as the banking giant increases its presence in Tysons.

Riegle added that the new plans will add more retail and enhance street activation.

The campus currently has two office buildings, a conference center, a parking garage and surface-level parking, according to county documents. “Construction activity is on-going on a 31-story office building, an 8-story performing arts center, and a 28-story hotel/residential building,” the documents say.

The proposal did not receive any public comment during the public hearing yesterday.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said that the change better fits the recommended percentage of office use in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan and that the area has other planned hotels.

As for economic development, Palchik added that the office building will support jobs for construction workers.

Palchik praised the proposal for gaining “widespread community support” in a few months, noting that the Gates of McLean and McLean Citizens Association both support the proposal.

“[It] sets a high standard for future Tysons applications,” Palchik said.

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