NightLife

Escape to the Islands, and From the Crowds

Nishelle Miles of Upper Marlboro arrives at her friends' table, drink in hand, at Splash, where revelers can look at -- but not enter -- the hotel pool.
Nishelle Miles of Upper Marlboro arrives at her friends' table, drink in hand, at Splash, where revelers can look at -- but not enter -- the hotel pool. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
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By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, July 11, 2008

T he buzz: On Thursday nights, when competition for your happy hour dollar is fierce, why spend it at a "discounted beer but nowhere to sit" place, when you could be sipping piña coladas poolside?

That's just what Euronet International was wondering when it kicked off Splash Happy Hour in May. Every other Thursday, the terrace outside the Washington Plaza Hotel on Thomas Circle becomes a destination with frozen drinks, steel pan performers and fabric-covered blue sun beds that practically beg you to put up your feet.

"I wanted people to think they were escaping to the islands to relax, to chill," says Euronet director Shenaz Shaffee-Partenen.

Separated from Thomas Circle's traffic by fences, tall trees and bushes, the pool area feels like part of the city without being in the middle of it. Semicircular rows of lounge chairs surround the pool, along with landscaped flowerbeds and planters filled with trees. Grab a drink and claim a table or some other patch of the spacious patio and you'll be glad you're not wedged between two shouting interns at some bar on Connecticut Avenue.

Although the pool is the centerpiece of the event, its presence is also a little misleading: Happy hour attendees can't actually get in the pool, which is reserved for hotel guests and a small number of neighborhood residents who pay an annual fee.

The scene: Some nightspots call their parties "International Night," but at Splash, that's no idle boast. It's not uncommon to hear banter in Spanish, German, Russian and French -- even around the same table.


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© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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