The Washington Post

Capital Buzz: Daily flights to Abu Dhabi start March 31

E tihad Airways President James Hogan sat down with The Buzz last week at the Hay Adams Hotel to discuss the business rationale behind his airline’s launch of nonstop service between Dulles International Airport and Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

The airline is building a new customer lounge for daily service that starts March 31, with flights leaving Dulles around 10 p.m. on a 240-passenger Airbus A340 for the 14 hours to the Gulf region.

Hogan said the growing trade and business relationship between the UAE and United States, which grew 43 percent in 2011 to $18.3 billion a year, justifies making Washington the fourth North American city served by Etihad. The other three are Chicago, New York and Toronto.

“The relationship between America and the UAE is very strong from a defense, from an investment, from cultural ... many aspects,” he said, including strong education links because many people from the Gulf region attend college and postgraduate work in the United States.

“We are also keen to bring in people for tourism,” Hogan said. “We see many ways in which we can make it work.”

Holiday traditions

Until now, you would pretty much need to jump into a time machine and go back a century or so if you wanted to sip a Tom and Jerry, the hot and steamy holiday drink that was a favorite of the early 20th Century.

This holiday season, for one month only, The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown, is bringing back a taste of that cocktail heritage as it tries to brand itself as the go-to hospitality location for holiday revellers in search of tradition.

Starting Dec. 1, the Georgetown Ritz — run by Chevy Chase-based Ritz-Carlton— is mixing up Tom and Jerrys (hot toddys with hot-buttered rum and hot chocolate) all day and night.

There really is a business reason behind it, as The Ritz faces competition from T he Capella, Georgetown, a new luxury hotel run by a former Ritz-Carlton executive Horst Schulze. The Ritz is next to Washington Harbor, with its shops and the ice skating rink open during the winter season.

“We think a cocktail with a cult following like the Tom and Jerry will bring in cocktail connoisseurs,” said Jeff Brower, general manager at The Georgetown Ritz. “We’re doing this because it’s a great opportunity to increase our business and exposure with the ice skating opening.”

Waxing about a revival

The Downtown Business Improvement District prides itself on having a team of red-outfitted staff — called SAMs (for safety, hospitality and maintenance) — on the street to keep downtown clean and quickly answer questions from visitors.

The newest SAM is not so responsive. Because he’s made of wax.

Madame Tussauds wax museum crafted the cheerful SAM from wax to celebrate the BID’s 15-year anniversary last week, according to staff writer Jonathan O’Connell, who attended the event. Clad in the red uniform and hat that have become a fixture of downtown street corners, the SAM sports some sensible glasses and a cell phone on his ear. The statue can be seen at Madame Tussauds, but also will play a role in a social media marketing campaign around “finding the SAM” the BID plans following Thanksgiving, according to the BID’s Karyn LeBlanc.

In years past, the SAMs have made various attempts to unionize. When O’Connell asked for comment, the wax SAM just smiled.

The Buzz hears:

Venture capital veteran Gene Riechers is joining the board at EverFi, the Georgetown education technology company whose investors include New Enterprise Associates, Allen & Co., Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Evan Williams of Twitter. Riechers will become an executive and a vice-chairman at EverFi, which was co-founded by chief executive Tom Davidson. Riechers, 57, spent the past 16 years in the venture capital industry, most recently as a co-founder and general partner at Vienna-based Valhalla Partners. Fast-growing EverFi helps students grasp key life skills, such as financial literacy.

Alexa Raad of Architelos, a domain name industry consulting and managed services firm, is back from Costa Rica, where she was helping an old friend celebrate a birthday by ziplining, jungle hiking and diving from waterfalls in the Central American jungle. “I believe once in a while putting yourself out of your comfort zone is good for you, for your business, and for your emotional health,” Raad said. She was scheduled to speak at a Virginia women’s conference Million Dollar Panel, organized by Reston Limousine founder Christina Bouweiri.



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