Friendship Heights hotel getting a big makeover

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Embassy Suites renovation would be completed in October 2015; in fact, it will be completed in October 2014. This version has been corrected.


Renderings of the planned renovation of the Embassy Suites. (Courtesy of Embassy Suites Chevy Chase)

When legendary investor (and former Washington Post Co. board member) Warren Buffett has meetings at Geico, the Chevy Chase-based car insurance company he owns through Berkshire Hathaway, he has been known to stay at the Embassy Suites at the Chevy Chase Pavilion.

Well, Buffett’s stays may become more comfortable.

The Friendship Heights fixture is about to get a boutique “at home” look, thanks to a $10.5 million renovation it is starting next month.

Plans call for a wide-ranging facelift to the 198-room hotel, including doubling the size of its lobby, creating a glass-and-stainless steel entrance, expanding its restaurant, upgrading the health club and modernizing the rooms.

The hotel will be the only one in the chain to have hardwood floors in every room, a feature that had to be personally approved by the brand’s president during an on-site visit. Even wing chairs are going to be added to give it a warmer feel.

“We are going for the high-end business and leisure travelers,” said Jeff Brainard, area general manager for Destination Hotels, which manages the Embassy Suites location.

Prices are going up. Midweek business travelers will pay from $269 to $329, while weekend rates will range from $179 to $229.

Brainard said the changes are necessary to keep up with the advances in the surrounding Friendship Heights area, which includes various offices for major companies such as Microsoft and JBG Cos.

“It’s really keeping up with the changing dynamics in the market around Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase,” Brainard said. “New restaurants like Range are bringing in a high-end, more sophisticated client to the market. We want to be able to offer them accommodations and experiences commensurate with the area.”

The work, which is expected to last through October 2014, is being done by two Rockville firms: HVS Design and Jonathan Nehmer & Associates, both of which specialize in hotel design.

The hotel, on the District side of the line between Washington and Maryland, opened in 1990 and is owned by Clarion Partners, a New York-based real estate management firm with offices and properties across the United States, Brazil and the U.K.

The redevelopment will also include an overhaul on all guest suites, which range in size from 600 to 800 square feet.

Some premium suites will include 55-inch high-definition televisions, super sound systems and Keurig coffee makers.

The lobby will be modernized in line with other boutique hotels, characterized by wood, steel and glass elements, and include a gas fireplace near the lobby area. A water wall, which is a core motif of Embassy Suites brand, will be installed directly behind the reception desk.

The Buzz hears:

Blake Wollman’s Wild Pea Hummus went up on the shelves at Washington area Harris Teeter stores as of June 11. That puts Wollman’s Baltimore-made product, which started 11 years ago in his Mount Washington cafe, into about 20 D.C. area stores. “We are trying to grow within the Mid-Atlantic region and take advantage of the growing demand for healthy food,” said Wollman, 36, who lives in Baltimore. “People in Washington, they are open-minded to our different and wild flavors, such as Thai peanut, cinnamon raisin, black truffle and vampire slayer.” Wollman said his flavors have a business purpose behind them. “I want to put a different twist on hummus, and create our own segment and not compete with others in the industry.”

Brad Christmann’s Boldfoot Socks hit its $10,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter 36 hours after its online debut last week. The company, founded by a Silver Spring native who works at Capital One Financial, makes “funky dress socks” at around $12 a pair.

Sweetgreen, the regional homegrown salad store started by three Georgetown graduates, plans to open in Navy Yard on June 19. The new store will be its 27th. The company last December received a $22 million investment from Revolution Growth, the District-based venture fund led by former AOL kingpins Steve Case, Ted Leonsis and Donn Davis.

Factoid of the Week

1 billionThat’s how many beverages Bethesda-based Honest Tea has sold since Seth Goldman founded the company in his kitchen in 1998. Honest Tea, purchased by Coca-Cola in 2011, is in more than 100,000 outlets. To spice up its beverages, Honest Tea has purchased 22 million pounds of organic ingredients since its beginning.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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