Exploring The Great American City of Washington DC with Laura Schofield

Exploring The Great American City of Washington DC with Laura Schofield

DE 305 | Washington, D.C.


It’s time to explore the nation’s capital, the great American city of Washington, DC! Joining Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth for today’s episode is Laura Schofield. Laura is the General Manager of Conrad Washington, DC. She is a second-generation hotelier who grew up around the industry and naturally progressed into becoming a part of it. For today’s show, she talks about the wonderful amenities of the Conrad and why it’s the place to be for corporate groups in the area. Laura also shares her favorite things about Washington and her go-to spots for leisure and corporate travel. Andy and Todd also share their destination favorites, so stay tuned.

Watch the episode here.


Exploring The Great American City of Washington DC with Laura Schofield

Every day is different when you work in hospitality. Explore the great American city of Washington, DC, with today’s guest Laura Schofield. Laura is a second-generation hotelier and the current General Manager of Conrad Washington, DC. Growing up in the industry and seeing the wonderful environment and people allowed her to naturally progress into a career in the hotel space.

The Conrad Washington, DC

Today, Laura joins Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth to share the many attractive amenities available at the Conrad to accommodate travelers from all over.

To start, the hotel offers a beautiful meeting space that is above ground with glass walls. This feature allows for plenty of natural light and a majestic view around the city or into a beautiful park. Located right at the CityCenterDC, the area has easy access to the mixed-use development space with high-end retail stores and wonderful restaurants.

Enjoy quality dining with these options:

  • Estuary

Originally founded by James Beard Award and Top Chef finalists Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, it is the signature restaurant of the Conrad. Having been closed due to the pandemic, they are reopening with a new menu at the end of September.

  • Summit, The Rooftop

The rooftop bar and lounge offer the most amazing views of the Capitol building, and you can see the Washington monument on clear days. You can relax in the lovely pods of relaxing sofas and bask in the best sunset views in all of Washington, DC. The dining incorporates sustainability efforts with meals often cooked via solar oven. This is just one of the initiatives built into the hotel with others, including collecting rainwater to water the landscaping for the green roof, making it an urban oasis. Their green spaces stretch to two gorgeous terraces on the third floor with trees and rose bushes, perfect for small weddings.

  • Sakura Club

The floor of guestrooms and signature suites all have access to the Sakura Club, which offers a full breakfast and dinner. Inspired by the cherry blossoms gifted to Washington, DC, the space can be considered a gift of hospitality to our guests, an intimate private space for them to feel at home. A favorite feature here is the “magic refrigerator,” which they keep stocked so the guests can help themselves with snacks and beverages 24/7.


Laura’s Favorite Spots in Washington

One of Laura’s favorite things about Washington is that it’s a walkable city. All the buildings are created so that nothing will be taller than the Capitol building, which created such an open city with a lot of green space left. She also enjoys going to museums and accessing all these resources at her fingertips for free.

Todd and Andy’s Destination Favorites:

  • The Federal Museums from the Smithsonian Institution

There is something for everyone at the Smithsonian, from American historical exhibits, space displays, and the national zoo.

  • Ford’s Theatre

Infamously known as the place where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, it is both a historical monument and a still working theatre producing classical shows and plays.

  • United States Botanic Garden

The conservatory has incredible areas with over 65,000 plants. You can meander and bask in the experience alone or enjoy it with the whole family with exhibitions for kids and adults.

  • International Spy Museum

This is a must-visit for anyone interested in spy stories and espionage. It traces the history of espionage and offers activities such as Operation Spy, where visitors can take on the role of a covert agent and participate in a one-hour spy simulation.

  • Brunch at the Tabbard Inn

An award-winning boutique hotel and the oldest running hotel in DC, this employee-owned venue offers an incredible brunch you can enjoy.

  • Smoke and Mirrors Rooftop Bar

The space offers the most amazing views of the US Capitol with an extensive list of original cocktails and a creative menu of dishes. This is also the spot to check out if you want to rub shoulders with some politicians and power players in DC.

Also, check out the two new museums in Washington to get in-depth and immersive knowledge about history. Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

About Laura Schofield

DE 305 | Washington, D.C.Born in London, England, Laura Schofield began her path to the hospitality industry by living in more than 15 countries spread across Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and North America as part of a hospitality family. A second-generation hotelier passionate about travel, Laura pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs and East Asian Studies at the University of Virginia while spending summers working in the hotel industry in New York City.

With both an interest in international relations and hospitality, Laura inevitably moved to Washington DC. Over the course of over two decades, Laura has held senior management roles with Ritz Carlton, the famed Watergate Hotel, and multiple Starwood properties in Washington DC. Most prominently, Laura spent eleven of her sixteen years with Starwood Hotels as General Manager of the St. Regis Hotel in Washington DC.

Over the course of her tenure at the St Regis, Laura oversaw the transition from Starwood ownership to private corporate ownership, closure of the property for a 16-month renovation, and coordination of the pre-and reopening sales and marketing and public relation activities. Laura was able to drive strong growth throughout her 11 years at the property while maintaining best-in-class associate engagement scores and garnering recognition from Trip Advisor’s Choice Hotel awards, Travel, and Leisure’s World Best Hotel List, Conde Nast’s Gold List, and consistently receiving the Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond Awards.

Laura also served as the General Manager for the Westin Washington DC City Centre. She joined this 410-room property in 2015 upon completion of a major renovation. Charged with re-positioning the hotel in the market, Laura successfully led the team to record business growth and received recognition from Starwood and HEI Hotels and Resorts. In her most recent role, Laura was with Langham Hotels leading the opening team charged with opening Langham’s first lifestyle hotel.

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6 Tips for Better Event Destination Selection

6 Tips for Better Event Destination Selection

Corporate meetings and events are focused largely on content delivery. Whether you’re hosting a meeting or event, you’re a keynote speaker, or you’ve got a booth in the exhibit hall, there’s a message you want attendees to take away. You might naturally assume that the message is the top priority, the delivery method is secondary, and the venue comes in at a distant third.

In truth, content is the most important part of any meeting or event. However, that doesn’t mean the location won’t play a crucial role in setting expectations and creating a platform from which to successfully deliver your message. Selecting the right destination is not a throw-away decision – it’s one you must treat with careful consideration.

Says Tessa Cameron, VP Strategic Sourcing at AMI, “Any number of destinations could suit your needs when planning an event, but some are going to offer more.  You need to comparison shop to find the greatest benefits at the lowest prices. Don’t forget to make sure your destination makes sense for your event and that it suits the sensibilities of attendees.”

What steps can you take to make sure you and your event organizer select the destination that’s best for your upcoming meeting or event? Here are a few guidelines to help you find your way.

Align Your Destination with Your Goals

What are you hoping to accomplish with your meeting? You may have many goals, from imparting a specific message, to raising brand awareness, to garnering patronage, to eliciting social behaviors from attendees (sharing via social media, writing positive online reviews, etc.). The destination you and your convention planner select should contribute in some way to reaching your goals.

For example, a beautiful location that has plenty of opportunities for selfies could invite social media sharing and raise the awareness and prestige of your event.  If your message and your company are Eco-friendly in nature, you’re going to want to support your ideals with venues committed to Eco-tourism. The destination you choose should never be at odds with your goals for an event.

Ask Your Convention Planner to Work Out All Costs

The bottom line is not only an issue for you and your convention planner, but also for any guests that have to pay to attend. While you might be able to work out deals with local vendors for lodgings, food, transportation, and activities, just for example, don’t forget that there are going to be hidden costs like taxes and fees, and you need to make sure to factor these in with overall cost.

Don’t forget about the potential cost for attendees to reach your destination, as well. Getting a great deal on lodgings won’t help if the vast majority of your attendees have to book pricey international flights to get there.

Carefully Consider the Infrastructure

A scenic destination that is off the beaten path may seem perfect for a retreat that requires total immersion. However, you have to consider the hassles of getting there and the potential inconvenience to attendees when you go off the grid, so to speak.

An experienced and creative event planner can do a lot to keep guests comfortable and engaged, but if event attendees have to spend hours on an airplane only to hop on a bus or in a car for several more hours of travel to reach a remote destination, they’re not going to be too happy about the inconvenience. Morale will get even worse if the location doesn’t offer absolutely stellar amenities and diversions.

Understand the Draws of Different Locations

What makes one location preferable to another?  You and your event organizer may be focused on the basics, like infrastructure, amenities, and logistics, but you also have to consider what added value a particular destination has to offer, such as culture, cuisine, and entertainment opportunities. This can help to elevate your event, engage attendees, and create an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Plan for the Weather

While there’s no telling what the weather will be like at a certain destination during specific dates, you and your convention planner can do some research into common weather patterns to find out if the climate is likely to be accommodating during your event.

Work with Your Event Organizer to Avoid Undue Safety Concerns

There are always going to be safety concerns when hosting an event, from a bad buffet that makes everyone sick, to uninvited guests gaining entry and causing disruptions, to natural disasters. If you plan accordingly, you can avoid most security concerns, but when choosing your destination, make sure to learn all you can about potential threats particular to the region or specific venues.