Why the DC Suburbs May Be a Capital Idea for Planners

August 3, 2021

One of the many effects of the pandemic was the movement of many city residents to nearby suburbs. The same reasons for the mini-exodus, namely cost and convenience, could also lead more events to make similar leaps.

If any region is capable of a shift in event locations, it’s the surrounding areas outside the nation’s capital. Beyond being home to the federal government, Washington, D.C. and its neighboring counties are the hub of many national associations. Marriott International makes its home in nearby Bethesda, Maryland (where its new headquarters will also be located) and Hilton’s headquarters is across the river in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Given their prime locations, there are at least three destinations in Northern Virginia that could win business that previously might have landed in D.C. proper. See why Alexandria, Fairfax County and Loudoun County are primed to welcome groups to town.

Visit Alexandria

Any movement to Alexandria would follow in the footsteps of George Washington, whose fabled Mount Vernon still resides there. A natural tourist attraction, the grounds are also a prime example of having a “Washington” experience outside the capital.

Mount Vernon

Private dinners coupled with evening tours make for a memorable offsite activity for VIPs or large groups. The George Washington Leadership Institute is part of The Leadership Collection at Alexandria, a collection of three nationally recognized executive leadership and teambuilding opportunities. Create your own situation room and/or map out a crisis contingency plan as a teambuilding activity. The George Washington Library is also available for private rentals.

Even those familiar with Alexandria will likely not have experienced time aboard the tall ship Providence. Take a cruise or better yet, schedule a private event or charters. Options include the exclusive dinners for eight in the Captain’s Cabin. A brand-new pier and visitor center is scheduled to open at Waterfront Park in Fall 2021.

The Water Taxi, sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding are other maritime adventures. Ada’s on the River and BARCA Pier and Wine Bar are new waterfront dining options.

Updated lodging options include the Sheraton Suites Old Town Alexandria, which underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that includes revamped meeting spaces with tech-enabled studios. Restoration of the historic George Mason Hotel to its roots is underway in 2021. When open next year, there will be 141 guest rooms and two on-site restaurants. The Hilton Alexandria Mark Center will begin a $10 million renovation in late November with a target opening of January 2022.

Visit Fairfax

The sprawling Fairfax County is a natural extension of D.C., and accordingly welcomes many government meetings, association gatherings and corporate events. There are more than 100 hotels with 18,000 guest rooms that range from luxurious to budget-friendly. Tysons Corner alone provides great shopping, dining and lodging, but there is much more.

Dulles Expo Center

Located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s high-tech corridor, the 130,000-sq.-ft. Dulles Expo Center is situated just six miles south of Dulles International Airport and 26 miles from Washington, D.C. Specializing in consumer, trade, corporate and private events, it features an on-site hotel, the Holiday Inn Chantilly-Dulles Expo, and free parking.

The National Museum of the U.S. Army, on the ground of Fort Belvoir, debuted in time for Veterans Day 2020 but then was forced to close due to the pandemic. Now the dynamic new venue is open for good. Virtual Reality simulators and motion platforms are part of the immersive experience available for groups during a private event.

Capital One Hall, a performing arts center and event venue in Tysons, comes to life this fall at Capital One Center. It will offer space ideal for boardroom meetings up to gatherings for more than 1,500 attendees.

Wolf Trap and National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center are popular sites for excursions outside of the meeting. The extension of Metro’s Silver Line will only aid in reaching the venues or getting to hotels for either Ronald Reagan National Airport or Dulles International Airport.

Visit Loudoun

Loudoun County’s mix of history, upscale venues and beautiful wineries offer the combination of natural beauty and big-city amenities.

Breaux Vineyards

Lansdowne Resort & Spa used its downtime in 2020 to renovate its ballroom and all meeting spaces to a contemporary, upscale design. It now offers more than 55,000 square feet of newly upgraded meeting space, including a state-of-the-art Thinking Center and immersive outdoor pavilion.

The National Conference Center has been accommodating smaller meetings as well as hybrid and virtual events during the pandemic, primarily from local and repeat customers that have used the National for many years. Its 265,000 square feet of flexible function space provide many options, whether you are planning a corporate retreat, training seminar or organizational meeting. Capital improvements include improved AV options and an upgraded golf course.

Created by BET Co-founder Sheila Johnson, the luxurious Salamander Resort & Spa is not what one would expect so near a major city. The Five-Star resort features 168 guestrooms and suites all with scenic views of the countryside. A 23,000-square-foot spa presents 14 treatment rooms and a private outdoor courtyard with a heated pool. In addition, Salamander has built one of the finest equestrian facilities and programs in the country with 25 on-site acres dedicated to riding and a 14,000 sq.-ft. stable.

A new Tru by Hilton and Aloft Dulles Airport North that is undergoing renovations are among the other hotel highlights.

Be sure to take advantage of the more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms that rival any in the country. Follow this wine trail guide to build an itinerary for your group.

The CVB in which Dulles Airport is located wants planners to know it pays to meet there. It is offering a  $3-$5 per room night rebate on actualized room nights for any meeting or conference occurring before the end of the year.


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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.