Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2021

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TRAVEL OPEN AND MARYLAND IS READY TO WELCOME YOU B Y R U F U S M C K I N N E Y Maryland is excited to see travelers returning – not only returning, but coming in good numbers. The pent-up demand has travelers ready to get outdoors, drive the state's scenic byways and experience all that they have been missing. State officials have great optimism for the sum- mer and fall seasons, with bookings for Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake, and local campgrounds well above the norm. As a result of the state's rapid pace of COVID-19 vaccinations and subsequent declines in key health metrics, Governor Larry Hogan lifted all capacity restrictions on outdoor entertainment, art, and sports venues and indoor entertainment venues and conventions, and all remaining restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining, as of May 15. Since Maryland has reached the point that 70 percent of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, the state's indoor mask mandate has also been lifted. At this time, the indoor mask mandate remains in effect for Baltimore City. Planners will be pleased to learn about the many new meeting offerings statewide. For instance, the Cambria Ocean City, a new 137-room hotel prop- erty, located Bayside, has more than 2,400 sq. ft. of modern, flexible meeting space (two rooms). Gaylord National – The DC area's largest hotel property is planning a July 1 reopening. During the closure, they have done a comprehensive renovation of all 2,000 guest rooms. The brand new 229-room Marriott Hotel at Metro Centre features almost 15,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space including a 6,700-sq. ft. ballroom with the ability to entertain up to 1,200 people, a 4,400-sq. ft. outdoor terrace and 3,650-sq. ft. of pre-function space. The hotel is within walking distance to Owings Mills Metro Station, connecting guests to Baltimore attractions including Inner Harbor. Several new upgrades are also worth mentioning, like the Roland E. Powell Convention Center expansion expected to come on line in Spring 2022. They have added 32,000 sq. ft. of new space, including a lower exhibit hall of 14,218 sq. ft. with bay views and a bayfront ballroom addition of 12,663 sq. ft. featuring panoramic bay views. While the Merriweather Lakehouse, Autograph Collection by Marriott – The Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel, is undergo- ing $20 million in renovations to bring the property up to par with the four-star stan- dards of its new Marriott Autograph flag. The new 212-room boutique hotel, nes- tled between Washington DC & Baltimore, is expected to open Summer 2021. And in a few years, Great Wolf Lodge – A $200 million, 44-acre lodge and waterpark will be built, next to the Hollywood Casino Perryville to open by summer 2023. The new property will have 700 hotel rooms with a 1,000-per- son conference center, restaurants and entertainment venues amid the water- parks and play areas. • • PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY • • Prince George's County is a scenic getaway drawing residents and visitors year round to explore the vast National Harbor, magnificent vineyards, select attractions and notable dining scenes. Located in the heart of the DC Capital Region, the County not only offers history, arts and culture, agri- tourism, outdoor fun, sports, entertain- ment and great accommodations, it also offers outstanding group options for that memorable convention or board meeting. Want proof? Prince George's County is home to the area's hottest attraction – The National Harbor. Situated on the banks of the historic Potomac River and within view of the Nation's Capital. This lively hub provides the perfect backdrop for your meeting or convention boasting two Four-Diamond hotels: The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center and the MGM National Harbor. The beautiful waterfront features approximately 3,100 guestrooms and over 500,000 sq. ft. of meeting and convention space, boutique shops, restaurants, entertainment, excitement and sky-high views from the soaring 180-ft. iconic Capital Wheel. Need more? Bowie State University, the oldest historically Black college/uni- versity in the State of Maryland and one of the oldest in the country, offers a beau- tiful, serene campus with fresh outdoor spaces and state-of-the-art venues to accommodate your event needs. Accommodating 20 to 1,500 guests, they have a variety of meeting and event spaces including a gymnasium, arena, B M & T ••• July/August 2021 ••• 48 AREA GUIDES M A R Y L A N D National Harbor, Prince George's County Photo Credit: Prince George County

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