Washington Business Journal

Marriott International Inc. executives will sign the first contract for the Washington Marriott Marquis, the Convention Center-affiliated property now under construction, in a ceremony scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott Jr. will sign the contract with Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a retired Army officer and now president and chief operating officer of the Association of the United States Army. The contract covers a block of rooms for the next three years of the association's Annual Meeting and Exposition event.

That contract is expected to translate into more than 12,000 room nights over three years. For Marriott, that means approximately $3.5 million in revenue from room sales alone, according to Bill Wallace, a spokesman for the Marquis.

"There's also catering, not to mention business for other hotels, and for shops, restaurants and bars," said Wallace.

The long-delayed opening of the hotel, which broke ground in November, is expected to create a significant increase in convention-related tourism business for D.C. The city's marketing arm, Destination D.C., has struggled to book conventions looking for a hotel adjacent to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and some citywide conventions have turned down D.C. because there aren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate their attendees.

Construction on the hotel is supposed to wrap up in spring 2014, meaning salespeople are looking to book events that take place in the summer of 2014 or later, Wallace said. He expects to sign between four and six additional contracts within the next 30 to 60 days, and have more than 100,000 room nights booked by year's end.

"We certainly are focused on filling this hotel, but at the same time we also are cognizant of being connected to the convention center and a part of this downtown market," he said. "In the large sense, it's a community effort."

Ideally, the 1,175-room Marquis, which will have more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space, would like to attract not only convention business, but also galas and high-profile events such as inaugurations or the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, Wallace said.

Many members of the business community are expected to be on hand for Tuesday's maiden contract signing, from Norman Jenkins, CEO of D.C.-based Capstone Development LLC, to Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination D.C., as well as several Marriott executives and Army representatives.