Herrity Criticizes Langley HS Book Display — Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity took issue with a display in Langley High School’s library featuring books “some adults don’t want you to read.” The supervisor later claimed that Fairfax County Public Schools “apologized for the sign on display” and “are now reviewing their policies and procedures.” [Pat Herrity/Twitter]
How to Detect COVID-19 Scams — “Martin Bailey, a member of the Northern Virginia AARP Fraud Watch Network, the Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol and Fairfax County’s Silver Shield Task Force, regularly produces a Scam Slam audio series. And the most recent Scam Slams cover these COVID scams — unsubstantiated COVID-19 treatment claims appearing on social media platforms, phony COVID testing sites and how to get your free COVID test kits.” [Fairfax County Health Department]
Tysons Ritz-Carlton Among Top Virginia Hotels — “We are delighted to share that The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner has been awarded the #9 Best Hotel in Virginia and #20 in Washington, D.C., and has earned a Gold Badge in the Best USA Category by U.S. News and World Report! Thank you to our guests for supporting us through the years and for the #RCMemories shared.” [The Ritz-Carlton Tysons/Facebook]
General Assembly Hits Midpoint — It’s crossover day for the Virginia General Assembly, when the House and Senate take up the other chamber’s bills. The Republican-controlled House has passed a slate of bills favored by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, including restrictions on voting, abortion, and school curriculums, while the Democratic Senate has mostly blocked the governor’s agenda. [The Washington Post]
McLean Budget Forum Scheduled — With the new proposed county government budget set to be unveiled next Tuesday (Feb. 22), the McLean Citizens Association will host a free, virtual public forum on the topic on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Participants will include Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, School Board Representative Elaine Tholen, and County Executive Bryan Hill. [MCA]
FCPS Superintendent Search Underway — The Fairfax County School Board discussed the process and timeline for hiring a new superintendent to replace Scott Brabrand, who will leave the position on June 30. The Fairfax County Public Schools community will be able to provide input in an emailed survey next week and focus groups scheduled for mid-January. [FCPS]
Vienna Refines Plans for ARPA Funds — “Vienna officials are leaning toward spending millions of dollars on capital-improvement projects to make the most of an infusion of federal COVID-relief funds…Town officials in the next three to six months will need to devise a final plan for the ARPA funds, which must be spent by 2024, Finance Director Marion Serfass told the Vienna Town Council at a Dec. 13 work session.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Local Hyatt House Officially Rebrands — “The Hyatt House in the Mosaic District of Merrifield officially changed hands Wednesday and donned its new Archer Hotel Falls Church name. As part of the acquisition, Archer Hotel will be conducting a design overhaul of the former Hyatt House Falls Church/Merrifield, with a spring unveiling of the luxury boutique hotel.” [Patch]
Pickleball Study Formally Endorsed — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board endorsed the Park Authority Pickleball Study Report at their regular meeting on Dec. 8, 2021. The report will serve as a guiding document for Park Authority pickleball site planning criteria, design and operations of pickleball facilities.” [FCPA]
Annual Hiking Photo Contest to Return — “First Hike Fairfax returns with even more award categories, including a new Best in Show (Pets) award. This year, First Hike Fairfax will be a two-day weekend event (Jan. 1-2, 2022) to help promote social distancing and prevent crowding on the trails on one day.” [FCPA]
On the heels of its Scotts Run opening, Archer Hotel is now taking aim at another site in the Tysons area.
This time, instead of building a new building from scratch, hotel management company LodgeWorks Partners plans to renovate and convert the existing Hyatt House property in Merrifield into an Archer Hotel, adding an eighth location to its proprietary, boutique brand.
While Archer Hotels comprise the bulk of its portfolio, LodgeWorks also owns and operates hotels from larger, national companies, including four Hyatt Houses, which were designed for extended stays.
Located at 8296 Glass Alley, the seven-story, 148-room Merrifield Hyatt House has been at the Mosaic District since the mixed-use development opened on the old Multiplex Cinemas site by Route 29 in 2012.
With the renovation, the site will become Archer Hotel Falls Church. It is LodgeWorks’ first conversion, according to President Mike Daood.
“We developed this hotel back in 2012 as an upscale, independent lifestyle hotel — and it’s incredibly exciting to return to those roots,” Daood told Tysons Reporter by email. “…It’s an irreplaceable asset in one of the area’s most innovative retail and entertainment districts and a tremendous fit for Archer.”
According to Archer Hotel’s website, the conversion process will begin on Dec. 15 with remodeling work starting in January 2022. The hotel will remain open during its renovation.
“With thoughtful planning, we’ll work to ensure that our guests are comfortable with minimal disruption during the transition,” Archer Hotel says.
Like Archer Hotel Tysons, which opened near the McLean Metro station on Tuesday (Sept. 14), the Merrifield location will offer four different room designs. Amenities will include an AKB hotel bar with food and beverages, daily turndown treats for guests, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Daood says Archer’s two D.C.-area hotels “will tout Virginia-centric design and stories,” but every site in the brand is unique.
“Each will be special in its own right,” he said.
Archer Hotel’s expansion comes amid continued struggles for the hospitality industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association projected in August that the industry will finish 2021 with a $59 billion decline in revenue from business travel compared to 2019, exceeding the nearly $49 billion lost in 2020.
According to the analysis, which was conducted by Kalibri Labs, the D.C. region’s market will collect $2.7 billion less from business travel this year than it did in 2019 — an 86.5% dip. The only market expected to see a bigger difference is New York City, which has an anticipated revenue gap of $4 billion.
Local hotel managers and workers started to see some signs of life early this summer, but occupancy rates were still around 50%, noticeably down from pre-pandemic times. A study commissioned by Tysons Partnership predicted the area’s hotels might not recover until 2025, and that was before the Delta variant clouded the future once again.
Almost two years after its October 2019 ground-breaking, the luxury hotel opened its doors to patrons yesterday (Tuesday), according to developer LodgeWorks Partners, which also owns and operates the establishment.
Archer Tysons is the seventh addition to the company’s Archer Hotel brand, which also has properties in New York City, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Washington, and Austin, Texas. LodgeWorks says its goal is to bring “boutique sophistication” to growing metropolitan areas.
“The urbanization of Tysons and the emergence of its newest walkable Scott’s Run South neighborhood is the epitome of live, work, play,” LodgeWorks President Mike Daood said. “Archer Hotel with its Virginia-centric, boutique vibe and classic hotel bar supports that lifestyle. We believe we bring something unlike anything in the area and hope to be a natural hub for commerce, getaways and celebrations.”
Designed by LK Architecture, the seven-story hotel has 178 rooms and over 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, including a penthouse on the top floor. There are four different room layouts, with the largest suites reaching about 870 square feet in size, according to a press release.
Amenities include an AKB Hotel Bar that offers food and drinks, a 24-hour pantry in the lobby called The Market, complimentary Wi-Fi, in-room coffee, and curated, house-made turndown desserts, such as chocolate squares from the McLean-based chocolatier Craving for Chocolate.
The hotel also features art by local and regional artists, including a seventh-floor photo gallery centered on musicians who have lived in Virginia.
To celebrate the opening, Archer is offering a 20% discount on rooms at all locations through Oct. 31, though guests must book their stay for a period before March 31, 2022.
Located at 7599 Colshire Drive, Archer Tysons is the latest addition to Scotts Run, the 8 million square-foot development that Cityline Partners and other developers are building north and south of Route 123 around the McLean Metro station.
Cityline also finished construction on Fairfax County’s new Scotts Run Fire Station this summer. The station, which the developer built as part of its Scotts Run South proffer agreement with the county, became operational on Aug. 14 and has a grand opening scheduled for this Saturday (Sept. 18).
“We are very excited to have the Archer Hotel at Scotts Run now open,” Cityline Partners Managing Director Tasso Flocos said by email. “The new boutique hospitality addition at the center of our urban neighborhood is an attractive place for visitors and neighbors to experience connections with others and the natural stream valley park.”
Across the street from Archer Hotel, work continues on The Heming, a 410-unit luxury apartment building from developer Skanska that began construction in January 2020 and is expected to be delivered by the second quarter of 2023.
The residential tower will sit above a three-level public plaza and 38,000 square feet of retail at 1800 Chain Bridge Road, which is also scheduled for a 2023 completion.
Also coming to Scotts Run is Paxton, a mixed-use building with 447 apartment units and 14,713 square feet of retail. Developer LMC announced on July 29 that it had closed a deal with Cityline to purchase land for the project, which is projected to be ready for tenant move-ins in early 2024.
(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 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.
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
(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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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