Code Orange: Slip Away to A Pool Party

By Fritz Hahn
Special to the Washington Post
Friday, August 24, 2007

With the dog days of summer coming to an end, you might be thinking about trying to shoehorn one last relaxing mini- vacation into your calendar -- a trip to the Eastern Shore, a weekend on the Outer Banks, or, if it's a sunny Thursday afternoon, you could go to the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

No one will ever confuse Woodley Park with Delaware's Bethany Beach or consider Connecticut Avenue to be an acceptable substitute for Ocean City's boardwalk, but a trip to the Omni's new poolside Code Orange Happy Hour last week had a friend and me pretending we were relaxing at a faraway resort.

By 7 on a recent Thursday, our work clothes had been swapped for bathing suits, and we were sipping frozen cocktails at an umbrella-shaded table, toying with the idea of heading back into the pool. My friend couldn't stop grinning. "I love this," she said. "It feels like we're on vacation."

Every summer, readers ask about how they can go swimming at Washington's hotel pools. Not many open their doors to the public, and there are problems with some that do -- the Marriott Wardman Park's pool is small, the Washington Plaza Hotel sells a limited number of public passes to seasonal subscribers.

The Omni Shoreham has been trying to lure the public to the hotel this summer with a series of short-lived happy hours and brunches, but Code Orange is the best plan yet: On Thursdays from 4 to 9, the Omni's secluded pool and deck is open to the public. There's a $15 admission charge, which includes swimming, use of the locker rooms and one complimentary drink.

Surrounded by deck chairs and manicured plants, the shallow pool is designed for wading instead of laps, and I could spend hours here with a book and Sunkist-colored cocktails from the special menu. The Frozen Orange Blossom blends orange sorbet, peach schnapps and gin into a thick, refreshing winner, while the slushy Orange Mango Squeeze hints of the tropics with chunks of mango, orange juice and vodka.

As you might expect, the locker rooms are top-notch: saunas, large showers with body wash, shampoo and conditioner, hair dryers, vanities, mirrors and lockers large enough to hang a suit and stow a bag.

Seeing how well Code Orange is organized, I'm shocked that (a) the Omni waited until late summer to roll it out and (b) they're only planning to run it for four weeks, from Aug. 15 to Sept. 6. However, if the weather cooperates, organizers may be able to sneak in a few more weeks. Here's hoping for a September heat wave.

-- Fritz Hahn

Code Orange Happy Hour Thursdays from 4 to 9 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St. NW; 202-234-0700 Vibe: A poolside vacation in Woodley Park, complete with frozen cocktails.

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