The Westin Arlington Gateway had its official opening and ribbon-cutting today.
I went over for the event and toured the property. I’d been over a few months ago while it was still under construction and I had to wear a hard hat. (We started out at the hotel’s temporary offices in a building behind the Holiday Inn down the street, saw a mock up of a guest room, and then headed over to the property.. After being taken out for a nice lunch, that is).
The new building is a site to behold inside! That new hotel feel is just great, and the design is pretty sweet. It’s very light and airy, modern in look and feel. It reminds me of the Westin Melbourne, at least for the lighting.
The top two floors aren’t done yet. The official open for those floors is supposed to be March 15, but staff concede that isn’t going to happen. That’s where the executive lounge will be (top floor), so there’s no lounge available yet. Apparently there’ll be at least one larger suite suitable for entertaining with a small cocktail reception on the top floor. There might be more than one between the two floors, but they apparently haven’t gone final on configuration yet.
I’m told that the parking garage will be connected underground to the metro, but I’m really not sure how that’s going to work. In any case, since they say 9 months off I’d expect it to take even longer.
The health club is complimentary to all guests (not just platinums). There’s a workout room with nice windows out onto Glebe Road. Complimentary bottles of water there (so no need to buy the overpriced bottle in your room). Treadmills have plenty of modes, lots of electronics, and TV — but no internet. There’s also a lap pool. Condos are being built next door, and it appears as though residents there will be able to see directly into the pool area. The big Starbucks in the lobby will deliver to the pool.
The bar area is small, just a row of stools. There was originally going to be another long row of stools facing the other direction away from the bar, but I guess they decided it would be odd to have folks in the bar looking into the restaurant so there winds up being just a bunch of standing room on the counterspace where those stools would have gone.
Internet is wireless in public spaces, wired in the rooms.
Though the hotel is open, valet parking price isn’t yet determined. Probably $15 for overnight. I’m told the restaurant will validate.
I went up to see the meeting space which is nice, all up on the second floor. The hotel offices are on the 3rd floor along with the pool and health club and some rooms, I believe most of the Westin Workout rooms are there. I’d actually suggest avoiding rooms on the third floor, I could smell the pool all the way down the hall as I got off the elevator (perhaps they’ll figure out how to alter the chemicals to avoid this?).
The rooms themselves seemed quite small to me. Of course the heavenly bed is there and the heavenly bath (which just amounts to the curved shower curtain rod and the dual overhead spray). Plasma TVs are in all the rooms.
There are twelve suites currently open (that is, twelve suites outside of the top two floors that aren’t done or fully determined). With over 320 rooms, I imagine upgrades won’t be easy for Platinums.
Frankly, the suites just felt like nice large hotel rooms, there’s a living room area separated off from the bedroom that’s still about the size of a regular hotel room. I imagine these will be the ones in the upgrade pool. Nice furnishing and modern feel, but not that large and spacious.
The bathrooms in the regular rooms are pretty small, and aren’t much bigger in the suites. The suite bathrooms do have a separate room for the toilet and shower together which can be closed off from the sink and mirror.
They were giving massages in the suite being shown today
All in all I’d say that this is a better hotel than the Hyatt Arlington, Hilton Arlington & Towers, or any of the Crystal City hotels. I’d say it’s a draw — very different pluses and minuses — between this and the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. (Those familiar with the Pentagon City Ritz know it as the worst of that chain.)
This new Westin has some very nice staff. Everyone smiles and acknowledges you. When you ask where something is, they take you to it instead of just pointing or giving directions. Hopefully they can maintain the friendly, helpful, positive attitude!
Rumors overheard during the day: Westin Embassy Row was sold, will remain a Westin, and will finally get some needed renovations. There’s consideration of a W in DC, they’re looking at a few sites but most likely will be Capitol Hill.