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Hyatt Regency Bethesda
Joe Koch and Shelley Belk
1 Bethesda Metro Center
Standing at the center of downtown Bethesda, Hyatt Regency Bethesda was built during a period of immense commercial and residential growth. “It’s iconic,” says Joe Koch, Director of Sales and Marketing. “It’s been a fixture in the community since 1985.” Some of the associates who opened the hotel 35 years ago are still on staff today.
The hotel’s ties to the community have allowed staff to form lasting relationships with their clients. “We have some families where we’ve done the kids’ mitzvahs, and now they’re coming back for their weddings,” says Shelley Belk, Director of Events. And thanks to the $40 million transformation completed last year, guests get a new experience when they return.
In the renovated 12-story lobby, a modern art installation of woven plexiglass reflects and bends light, creating an array of shadows along the white wall. The pink marble and artificial ivy that once decorated the lobby are long gone. Belk thinks the new, minimalistic décor “allows for more free thinking.” “The interior decorating enhances the guest experience, rather than distracting from it,” says Belk.
The rooftop pool has been converted into a glass-enclosed ballroom, with views of the National Cathedral and the NIH, a loyal client of the hotel. “The majority of our guests are highly educated doctors and researchers,” says Koch. “They’re an integral part of the Bethesda community.”
A true sign of keeping up with the times: an in-hotel Starbucks opened in June. But through all the updates and added amenities, the heart of the hotel has remained the same. “We’ve been able to keep the foundation of who we are,” says Belk, “but shift with the times to stay relevant.”