By Christine Trent, HNS North America Venue Chair
After an exhaustive examination of nearly a dozen suitable properties in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, areas, your HNS North America board settled upon the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, located on the Potomac River just minutes from Washington, DC. The Gaylord had availability for our 2019 dates and offered far and away the best pricing and services for us. Since the board lives everywhere from Maryland to New York to Colorado to California and Oregon, we all traveled to the Gaylord from June 21-24, 2018, to visit the property and settle in for some serious planning. Here are some highlights:
Binders, Laptops, and Coffee, Oh My!
Over three days of meetings, we worked from a combination of laptop presentations, spreadsheets, and notebook binders. Our Volunteer Coordinator, Jenny Quinlan, joined us for a few hours on June 22 to discuss volunteer needs for the conference (a call for volunteers will go out next spring!).
The Gaylord offered us a complimentary tasting to determine what sorts of dishes we would like for our banquet meals. Don’t worry, we made sure to sample wines and cocktails for you, as well as food. It’s a rough job, but someone has got to do it!
The Gaylord pulled out all the stops for us during this tasting. The hotel presented us with full-sized versions of proposed dishes so that we could see their actual presentations, then gave us petite versions to actually taste. We can all assure you that the Gaylord produces some very nice cuisine!
Because the Gaylord has its own pier, with water taxis and sightseeing tours aplenty sailing on a regular basis, we decided to take a tour down to Mount Vernon, home to George Washington, to examine whether such a trip might be a good optional excursion for members during the conference. It is a 1-hour scenic trip each way, with a crew member offering historical commentary along the river. The Mount Vernon estate is as wonderful as you might imagine it to be, with plenty to learn about Washington’s daily activities, the American Revolution, slavery, and colonial farm life. There is also a fantastic gift shop loaded with historical books and souvenirs, a colonial-inspired dining room called Mount Vernon Inn, as well as food court eateries.
The last room you see on the tour is George Washington’s bedroom, which is where he died in 1799. The Washingtons were known as gracious hosts. Everyone wanted to meet George, and he and his wife would let anyone who so desired have dinner with them and stay for the night.
There are numerous outbuildings at Mount Vernon to explore, including stables, a dung repository(!), barns, a blacksmith shop, smokehouse, ice house, seed house, and many, many more. Not to mention extensive gardens and a slave memorial.
Your Board Members
Although we enjoyed networking together at the Gaylord and were happy about the amount of planning work we accomplished, there is still much more to be done between now and June 2019. Keep an eye out for more blog posts as we continue to share conference updates with you.
Vanitha Sankaran, Conference Chair
Maryka Biaggio, Registration Chair
Leslie Carroll, Programming Chair
Elizabeth Mahon, Board Secretary & Editor/Agent Liaison
Rose Spears, Marketing Chair
Christine Trent, Venue Chair
Caren Wasserman, Treasurer
Christine Trent has been a member of HNS since the 2007 conference in Albany, NY. She writes historical fiction and historical mystery, and is the author of the Florence Nightingale Mysteries (Crooked Lane Books) and the Lady of Ashes Mysteries (Kensington Books). She lives in Maryland, about 90 minutes away from the Gaylord, which lends itself well to being the venue chair. She can’t wait to welcome you to the conference.