The Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

47 years ago, the first Smithsonian Folklife Festival was initiated in Washington, D.C.  Today, the Festival has become a national and international living cultural heritage expedition, home to over 250 artists and over 1 million visitors from all around the world.  I am so ready for this year’s lineup, kicking off June 25 to 29 and July 2 to 6 on the National Mall.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The theme of the program this year will be China: Tradition and the Art of Living and Kenya: Mambo Poa!  The China program emphasizes the themes of BALANCE and REUNION, processes of more profound importance than ever in China.  The program will also feature seasonal festival traditions, emphasize the exuberance of public life, share the meaning and preparation of Chinese foodways, engage visitors in craft and performance workshops, and highlight the country’s cultural diversity.

The Kenya: Mambo Poa program will present the ways in which the people of Kenya are balancing protection of their valued cultural and natural heritage with the challenges and opportunities for change in the twenty-first century.  Festival visitors will be able to interact with exemplary craftspeople who work with everything from clay to soapstone to recycled materials, learn about important fossil discoveries and so much more!

Smithsonian Folklife Festival China

What I love most about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the opportunity to meet carriers of cultural traditions in a very personal way.  You will have the chance to ask questions and engage with participants to hear their unique insider stories and experiences.  It amazes me to think how Washington, D.C. has become the quintessential cultural center, home to so many diverse groups.  This Festival is a time to learn and appreciate our fellow Americans and their family sagas from generation to generation.

To get myself ready, I’ve been listening to the Smithsonian Music of China and Music of Kenya playlists.

There is no admission charge to the Festival.  I highly suggest dressing for hot and humid weather- summer will be in full effect!  Parking around the Mall is extremely limited, so you are advised to use Metrorail.  Your Capella Washington, D.C. Personal Assistant is of course on hand to arrange transportation services to and from the Festival as well.  I look forward to seeing you there!

A 4th Of July History Lesson From Capella DC

Fourth of July Capella DC

Just imagine what Washingtonians of years past would have thought of our upcoming July 4th rooftop experience at Capella Washington, D.C.!  Georgetown is after all, one of the most historic of American towns and it is especially rich in 4th of July history.  Did you know for instance that on July 4, 1828, President John Quincy Adams officiated the groundbreaking ceremonies at the C&O Canal with the musical accompaniment of the US Marine band?  And back in 1850, Washingtonian William Gordon wrote this about his fourth of July experience at Parrott’s Woods in Georgetown, in his book, “Recollections of a Boyhood in Georgetown.”

Fourth of July Capella DC

“On arriving at the woods the day was celebrated. Patriotic songs were sung, the Star Spangled Banner never being omitted, and addresses made by young college graduates. Later in the day speeches were made by the elders. Townsmen of all classes participated, and barrels of lemonade and abundance of eatables of every kind were provided; everything was free and all were welcomed. After a somewhat strenuous day parents and children returned home tired out but patriotically happy.”

There is no better place to celebrate America’s independence than our nation’s capital.  The Fourth of July Parade is one of my favorites!

More interesting July 4th facts:

1801 – The first public Fourth of July reception at the White House occurs.

1848 – In Washington, D.C., the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument takes place with the President James Madison, First Lady Dolly Madison and other VIPs in attendance.

1947 – In Washington, D.C., the July Fourth ceremony at the monument grounds is televised for the first time.

1964 – A recorded reading of the Declaration of Independence by slain President John F. Kennedy is broadcast over radio airwaves. In Prescott, AZ., Senator Barry Goldwater rides a horse in the annual Frontier Days Rodeo parade.

1966 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act into law.

Source: James R. Heintze. Librarian, American University, Washington, D.C. 

4th of July Capella DC

All I can say is that we’re aligning the stars and stripes once again for a most patriotic 4th of July weekend.  Our exclusive rooftop bar & lounge is the perfect location to view fireworks and enjoy a variety of handcrafted cocktails.

Our overnight package includes:

  • Overnight stay in one of our luxurious accommodations of your choice with views of the C&O Canal and historic Georgetown
  • VIP access to our private rooftop bar, lounge and infinity pool
  • Viewing of the National Firework Celebration
  • Live musical entertainment
  • Capella’s Culinary Team will have delicious barbecue action stations from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, for $49 per person and $29 for children. (All food and beverage orders are charged separately from the Fourth of July package)
  • Breakfast the next morning in The Grill Room.

To reserve this incredible experience at Capella Washington, D.C., please contact your Personal Assistant at 202-617-2400 or e-mail res.dc@capellahotels.com.

To book today, please click here.

www.capelladcjuly4.com

The Washington Ballet Presents Peter Pan

peter_pan_the_washington_ballet

I love Capella Washington, D.C’s partnership with The Washington Ballet and Artistic Director, Septime Webre.  When I first learned that Septime was creating a new whimsical production of the classic fairy tale, Peter Pan, I could not wait to make my reservations!  With my companion’s birthday just around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate spring with an outdoor seafood dinner and ballet at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.

We parked our car at Capella Washington, D.C. for an early dinner on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in April.  Capella Personal Assistant, Donovan Trott, had already reserved our tickets and had them ready for us when we arrived.  Donovan made us reservations at Tony & Joe’s Seafood Restaurant located two blocks away at the Georgetown Washington Harbour waterfront.  We thanked Donovan and took a beautiful walk to Tony & Joe’s.  I love this restaurant not only for the tasty local seafood, but also because of the legendary location in Georgetown, looking over the Potomac River boardwalk, Kennedy Center, Key Bridge, and across the water to Virginia.

Tony_&_joes_mussels_georgetown

We started off with Steamed P.E.I Mussels simmered in a tomato, basil, and chili sauce as well as fresh Rhode Island Calamari, crispy fried and served with pickled chilies and a chipotle aioli.  I loved these dishes, and for our entrees, a simple but delicious Caesar salad with chilled jumbo shrimp, yum!

After dinner, I used my iPhone to request an Uber X car to take us to The Kennedy Center for the Peter Pan ballet, just a five-minute drive down Rock Creek Trail.  The Eisenhower Theatre is beautiful, and our seats were just seven rows back from the main stage!  The ballet told the story of Peter and the Lost Boys, based on the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie.  “The story of Peter Pan is a compelling one as it reminds us to live our lives cherishing the child within,” says Artistic Director Septime Webre, “ I thought the ballet was both clever, funny and heartwarming, incorporating flying ballerinas through the air on their way to Neverland, and visually enhanced sets to create a sense of dream-like land of fantasy.

peter_pan_the_washington_ballet

The Washington Ballet is one of the pre-eminent ballet organizations in the United States with choreographers and dancers from around the world. For more information regarding exclusive upcoming events this ballet season, be sure to contact your Capella Personal Assistant by calling 202-617-2400 or emailing pa.dc@capellahotels.com.

 

Capella Washington D.C.’s Mount Vernon Bike Tour

Bike & Roll DC Resized

I arrived to Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown on a gorgeous spring morning in April with my great friend as we prepared for a day’s journey to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Mansion, one of the iconic homes from 18th-century America.  Naturally, I crave adventure and outdoor exercise, so the moment I discovered this unique biking and historical tour offered for Capella guests, I was all about trying it out for myself!

Bike & Roll DC Resized

We met Luis Colmenares, Lead Personal Assistant in the main lobby as he greeted us with a surprise backpack lunch with our tickets to the Mount Vernon tour.  He explained that our rental bikes were ready and waiting for us outside, courtesy of Bike & Roll DC!  The Mount Vernon Trail is the main path located just around the corner from the hotel, and winds alongside the scenic Potomac River, offering uninterrupted views of Washington, D.C.’s skyline.  We made sure to take advantage of Luis’ excellent suggestions for pit-stops along the way including Gravelly Point Park, located just north of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where you can see planes take off and land, and also Old Town Alexandra, Virginia’s Eamonn’s Restaurant for the best afternoon fish & chips!  I’m always searching for an excuse to be outside and enjoy nature, and this was the perfect, unique experience!

George Washington Mount Vernon 2 Resized

When we arrived at Mount Vernon, I was so thrilled to find out that not only could we tour the beautiful Mansion, but we could also explore their new exhibit, Gardens & Groves.  This exhibit was incredible and offered the opportunity to discover Washington’s design and see how he created the sweeping lawns, groves of trees, walled gardens, serpentine paths, and the views of Mount Vernon.  When visiting Mount Vernon you journey can go beyond the mansion to the George Washington’s Distillery, which was once the largest distillery in America and produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799, and to the George Washington’s Gristmill, established in 1771, the mill produced more than 275,000 pounds of the highest quality “superfine flour” and exported to both the West Indies and Europe.

George Washington Mount Vernon Re-Sized

More details on this experience:

  • Bike from Capella Washington, D.C. to George Washington’s Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail (approximately 18 miles).
  • Capella Washington, D.C will provide a delicious backpack lunch (Although you will have a backpack lunch, you are encouraged to try other restaurants, cafes, and shops along the way to Mount Vernon).
  • Park your bicycle and arrive at Mount Vernon (Be sure to ask your Personal Assistant about the variety of tours available on the Mount Vernon property).
  • At the completion of the tour, bicycle back to Capella Washington, D.C. If you wish to have a driver pick you up or take a scenic boat ride back on the Potomac River, please provide your Personal Assistant with 48 hour advance notice to plan accordingly.

I loved the Mount Vernon Bike Tour and definitely recommend it as the quintessential spring experience in Washington, D.C.  It is the perfect way to discover the most incredible views of the cities monuments, while simultaneously getting a bit of exercise.  If you’d like to know more about what to expect, please be sure to read my interview with Cat Pear of Bike and Roll DC.  For details, inquiries, and reservations, be sure to contact your Personal Assistant by calling 202-617-2416 or e-mail pa.dc@capellahotels.com.

One Year Anniversary Of Capella Washington, D.C.

Bruce Bradley, Horst Schulze, Alex Obertop

March 22nd marks the One Year Anniversary of Capella Washington, D.C. and I can’t help but think back nostalgically to all the incredible successes we’ve experienced thus far!  Each day leading to opening was a dense mix of excitement, fear, and amazement as we prepared to open the first Capella branded property in the United States.  I invite you to take a look at a few of my favorite memories from this last year that attribute to all of our achievements thus far!

Bruce Bradley, Horst Schulze, Alex Obertop

Prior to opening, the entire Capella Hotels And Resorts corporate office came to Washington, D.C. for employee orientation.  Over a ten day period known as “Countdown” we participated in a variety of activities, not only meant for team building, but also to help us better understand Capella culture, which truly sets us apart from all other hotel companies.  What fascinated me about orientation was that each employee had the opportunity to learn from Mr. Horst Schulze.  It’s not every day when you have the chance to have one-on-one conversations with your CEO!  It became clear that working at Capella Washington, D.C. meant that I was part of a great company that truly believed in creating excellence.

Steak Dinner The Grill Room

I’ll also never forget the days and weeks we all spent tasting and sampling dishes in the kitchen with Executive Chef of The Grill Room, Jakob Esko!  I was sitting in my office when I received a call from Chef saying, “come to the kitchen at noon, we are voting on the best steaks to select for the restaurant.”  It was amazing to be included in this fun and delicious process, selecting the beef with the best flavor, prime grade, aging, and tenderness.  Now, when I see how much guests love The Grill Room’s variety of unique, seasonally inspired dishes and steaks, I think back to those moments in pre-opening and I feel special knowing I was part of the conceptualizing and creation of the menu that our guests know and love today.

I’ve also loved the relationships we’ve built over the past year.  Establishing partnerships with The Washington Ballet, Resident Stylist, April Yvonne, Fuse Pilates, Luigi Parasmo Salon, and most recently, The University of Maryland for the Capella Constellation Series has been an incredible journey of creating unique and personalized guest experiences.  I am thrilled to be a part of a hotel that offers a wide span of activities in the world of theater, fashion, style, food & wine, astronomy, and much more!

I am so excited to welcome guests on Wednesday, March 26th as we celebrate our One Year Anniversary at the Rye Bar at Capella Washington, D.C. from 5:00-7:00pm.  As a sign of our gratitude, each guest will receive one Rye Bar spring themed cocktail upon arrival as well as passed canapés! Thank you for making the past year a fantastic one, and I look forward to seeing you at our celebration!

Capella Constellation Series At Capella Washington, D.C.

Capella Constellation & Dinner Series Rooftop

Earlier this month I had the incredible honor to present the Capella Constellation Series to our CEO & Chairman of Capella Hotels & Resorts, Mr. Horst Schulze & our Board of Directors!  It was a bitter cold evening in February, but the night sky was gorgeous and clear.  The gentlemen met me in the Capella Living Room, where Mr. Schulze asked our guide, University of Maryland Astronomer, Alex McCormick, to give us a brief introduction of “what we [were] about to see.”  Alex explained that the Capella Constellation Series is a brand new experience for hotel guests and the public that includes an interactive three-course meal and wine pairing in The Grill Room, followed by an extraordinary stargazing experience on the rooftop lounge during dessert and beverages, all along learning about the universe from the guides themselves.

Capella Constellation & Dinner Series Rooftop

The stargazing experience begins with Alex identifying and discussing familiar objects in the night sky, first with the naked eye and then using astronomical binoculars.  Then, using Capella Washington, D.C.’s  magnificent research grade telescope, we observe the stars, planets, and moons in greater (and informed!) detail.

We arrived to the rooftop and Alex explained to each of us that there are specific stars in the sky that we can use to help us locate different constellations.  I won’t to give too much away, but let’s just say this activity left the entire group very impressed!  We were all excited to discover that once we located the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere, we were able to find the Capella Star, directly above the hotel!

Capella Constellation & Dinner Series Lamb

Capella is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga and the sixth brightest star in the night sky.  Capella also occupies one vertex of the Winter Hexagon, a pattern of bright stars connecting six different constellations.

To our unaided eye, it looks like one bright star, but Capella is actually a system of four stars.  The two brightest stars are similar in color to our Sun, but each of them is about 10 times the diameter of the Sun, and approximately 2.5-2.7 times the mass of the Sun.  At approximately 42 light years from Earth, we have a hard time separating these two bright stars even with a very large telescope.  In order to get their separation, astronomers used a technique called interferometry, which employs two points of view separated by some distance in order to provide better resolution.  Capella was the first astronomical object outside of our Solar System successfully observed with interferometry!

Mr. Schulze and our Board of Directors had a wonderful evening and were fascinated by the stars and planets that we were able to see through the telescope from Capella’s rooftop.

For questions regarding upcoming Capella Constellation Series experience as well as to make reservations, please contact Elisabeth Thomas at (202) 617-2429 or e-mail elisabeth.thomas@capellahotels.com.