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Hard hats and goggles are still required for visitors entering the under-construction Westin Alexandria. But the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, Bruce Sorensen, promises that come Nov. 1, the hotel will be a trial attorney’s oasis. The Virginia hotel is sandwiched between the Alexandria U.S. District Court and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Sorensen has capitalized on this lawyer-centric location. Most notably, long corridors of standard-looking guest rooms on the fourth floor can be converted into “war rooms” where trial teams can prepare for court. “Whatever the firm needs, we’ll make it happen,” says Sorensen. From installing additional phone lines and high-speed Internet connections to totally refurbishing the rooms, Sorensen says, almost anything is possible. “We could dedicate full rooms to the file configurations they need,” he adds. The idea for the convertible war rooms was piloted at the Sheraton Suites in Wilmington, Del., five blocks from the Delaware federal courthouse. Both the Sheraton and Westin chains are owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts. In Wilmington, Sorensen says, the war rooms have been such a success that there is now a permanent wing used solely for that purpose. In Alexandria, Westin staff will be prepared to tailor complete menus to individual firms, and of course, the kitchen will be open around the clock. Such luxuries come at a cost, however. The war rooms will run between $2,500 and $7,500 per week, depending on the demands of the firm. If a case settles quickly and the attorneys pack up early, Sorensen says the price can be adjusted accordingly. And in a clever (and perhaps a little geeky) homage to the Patent and Trademark Office, the hotel has used an inventor theme throughout the building. Each of its ballrooms is named for a famous innovator. The Edison Ballroom is the largest, but Alexander Graham Bell, Eli Whitney, and Marie Curie are a few of the others who get recognition. After a long day at court, attorneys will be able take the edge off at the hotel’s Trademark Wine Bar, where they can mix and patent their own signature cocktails. This offering is part of what Sorensen calls the “unwind” feature. Guests will be invited to the hotel bar and restaurant in the evenings for food demonstrations by the chef and other activities, including the drink mixing. Though the Westin Alexandria will open in a month, Sorensen does not necessarily expect the war rooms to be booked from the start. He says he’ll take the first couple of months to build relationships with firms and spread the word about the rooms. Sorensen has been browsing the Pacer Web site, where federal court cases are registered, in search of upcoming cases scheduled at the Alexandria courthouse. That way, he knows which firms to approach. He hopes that the war rooms will be in high demand by Jan. 1, 2008.
Marisa McQuilken can be contacted at [email protected].

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