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June 21, 2014

National Harbor, Maryland: The look of real wood and pleated vinyl.

Be advised. National Harbor makes Branson, Missouri seem like Nantucket.

Last week, at the last minute, I learned I needed to come back to Washington, D.C. two days earlier than originally planned. Unfortunately, the week marked the beginning of tourist and "school trip" seasons. Moreover, several large annual conventions raged. Congress was in session. Not unexpectedly, I found that nearly every hotel room in town (rental cars, too) was booked. So I was forced to stay for two nights at the gargantuan, astonishingly over-priced--if I type what we paid I will need to lie down for an hour--and graceless Gaylord Hotel in "National Harbor", Maryland.

But the user-unfriendly Gaylord, with its listless staff and unfathomable room numbering system, is just a detail. The problem is National Harbor. Opened in 2008, National Harbor is a "waterfront resort destination", convention center and "multi-use development" of hotels, restaurants and condos on the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George's County (in the honest but unexciting suburb of Oxon Hill). It is 5 miles across the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, 10 miles from downtown D.C. and, due to poor planning, hopelessly isolated from both.

National Harbor gives you an idea of what all American convention centers would be like if Germany had won the war, McDonald's was eventually commissioned to build brothels and either Teens for Jesus or the Victoria, Texas Junior League was hired to run them. It is the stiffest, most soulless 300+ developed acres you could experience in any state, province, county or country. It features bad architecture (everywhere), boisterous, insincere third-rate service, fake smiles, the look of real wood, pleated vinyl and no class. Plus there is zilch Washington Metro accessibility. Just a $30 or more cab ride to either Reagan National or downtown Washington.

National Harbor, Maryland makes Branson, Missouri seem like Nantucket.

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Posted by JD Hull at June 21, 2014 08:22 PM

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