3 Loudoun County Side Trips to add to your Meeting Agenda

Sometimes you just need to get attendees moving and out of the classroom or meeting room. In beautiful Loudoun County, known for its historic, equestrian and agricultural landscapes, there are many attractions that can be added to your meeting agenda.

The National is part of a vibrant community in Loudoun County , with its award-winning, revitalized downtown, entertainment, sports, arts, shopping, dining and agriculture including wineries, breweries and distilleries. The surrounding Loudoun area offers everything from fishing, hiking and boating to golf, antiquing and exploring historic sites.

 

We’ve put together three side trips that we think would add value to any meeting, training or conference. These trips can be used as teambuilding add-ons or just a fun way for attendees to spend time together, an important part of any meeting.

 

Challenge Your Team:

If teambuilding events are planned and executed well, people feel good about themselves and about their colleagues. This trip starts right here at The National’s Challenge Rope Course, available this fall. THE NATIONAL’S Challenge Course includes:

Low Elements – permanent weight bearing structures constructed outdoors of wood and cables and High Elements-outdoor challenges constructed of wood and cable that allow participants to be as high as 40’.  All participants are in climbing gear and are protected by belayers.

The Rope Course could take place in the morning; then break for lunch with a Southern-style BBQ in the courtyard; then off to Pev’s Paintball or Top Golf.  Paintball is fast paced, high-tension game that brings people together with a little pressure and competition. In order to win a game of paintball, your team must work together, communicate, and be willing to take risks. Our team can create a customized team-building program or your group can simply learn to play the game and have a recreational event.

 

Top Golf Dulles , now open in Loudoun County, features 102 bays over 3 floors, an amazing rooftop terrace, lively bars and a golf game concept that is sure to blow you away! Anyone can play Topgolf, from aspiring pros to those who’ve never walked 18 holes. All you have to do is swing a club and try to hit your microchipped balls into dartboard-like targets. It’s competitive. It’s fun. And it’s always better with a big group! There are many different packages available with food and beverage included.

 

 

 

Meet and Eat:

Start the day off with a bus tour to Leesburg Farmer’s markets. Loudoun County is filled with rolling hills and farmland studded with orchards, vineyards, Christmas tree farms, and more make up our countryside. From the ecoganic vegetables at Potomac Vegetable Farm and the certified-humane heritage breed meats and organic produce at Ayrshire Farm to the county’s hand crafted beer, wine, and spirits, Loudoun brings the farm to your table. Visit the local farmers market with Executive Chef Chris Ferrier as you plan for the custom Chef’s Table that night. That’s right, you’ll pick the produce, cook the dinner with chef in the kitchen and then visit a winery or brewery the next day. We know the value of food to meetings. Much research has been done showing that food plays in ensuring that meetings are more efficient and more productive when attendees are eating food that effectively fuels their minds.

Our Chief Wine Officer Mary Watson will host a winery or brewery tour with you to learn how to taste wine, what to look for when pairing wine with food and explain the Loudoun County terroir. See the full list of wineries and breweries just a few miles from the National.

 

Backyard History:

In the National’s backyard lies the history of America. Loudoun County is in the center of The Journey through Hallowed Ground, a 180-mile scenic and historic corridor stretching from Jefferson’s Monticello to Gettysburg.

Start the day with a visit to the regional park, which was the site of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. This October 21, 1861 clash was the second largest to take place in the county during the Civil War. It took place along the banks of the Potomac River, where the Union fell backward into the river in a defeat that merited a congressional investigation. The national cemetery here is one of the smallest in the country. A one mile hiking trail offers interpretive signs.

A visit and tour of Morven Park will not disappoint. The movie, “Fighting & Frolicking”, brings to life Confederate soldiers in camp early in the Civil War. The living history program features historical interpreters portraying Civil War soldiers who lived at Morven Park in the winter of 1861-62, as well as civilians.

If time permits, a driver could take your group through the Mosby Heritage Area or you could do a Middleburg Walking Tour. https://youtu.be/p18nU9LY89g

End the day with a historically researched dinner prepared by the culinary team, along with a teambuilding exercise: Civil War Trivia Night in the Black Olive Lounge.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these Side Trips that we feel compliment a teambuilding activity or could be used as networking opportunities. Ask your conference planner for a private tour of our rope course or to help set up the culinary or historic tours. We look forward to working with you.

Food for Thought: Healthy Breakfast Trends 2016

As one of the largest meeting and training facilities in the East Coast, The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, has developed a healthy meeting/eating program.  John Walsh, director of food and beverage, along with Executive Chef Chris Ferrier, host a Breakfast of Champions every quarter and share their healthy tips.

The breakfast menu starts with Antioxidant Shooters, Mini Nonfat Greek Yogurt Parfaits with Chia Seeds and Organic Granola and Berries. It’s a fact…healthy, low sugar, high protein foods for meeting breaks allow attendees to focus better, stay alert and stay involved in the conversation. Here’s just a few break and breakfast ideas we’ve researched:

  • Greek yogurt probiotic are high in protein.
  • Eggs are healthier than we thought. See new medical USDA studies.
  • Strawberries are high in vitamin C and low fat.
  • Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant foods.
  • Avocado oil contains nearly 20 essential vitamins and minerals, providing beneficial plant compounds like 81 micrograms lutein and zeaxanthin, which research suggests may help maintain eye health as we age.

Chef and John continue to create healthy food options for all meetings and events at The National. Here are a few of their food trends for 2016. To see the full list, click here.

Fresh-and-local continues to be what meeting planners and guests request.  “Our guests are delighted to learn that they’re not only getting healthy food but they’re also supporting local farms,” said Walsh. Healthy, simple, good food is always in style.  It is sometimes a challenge since The National can serve over 1,000 meals a day, but Executive Chef Chris Ferrier meets with local farmers and suppliers daily to see what is fresh that he can incorporate into his menus.

Small plates and small bites are popular.  Guests prefer to try many different options as opposed to one heavy, sit-down meal.  Consider doing tapas type food stations where guests can try a variety of different items. Be sure to include vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free choices as now requested by a growing number of people.  We mark all our items and let guests know which are gluten-free.

Tell a story.  Guests not only want to know where their food comes from but they like to know the story behind the food.  Chef and our culinary team often are the ‘entertainment’ as they discuss and share stories about the farmers and local suppliers at each table.  And the story is not just about the source of the food but also about the chef, the sommelier and the people involved.  It’s all about the experience—socialization, engagement, the food, the people, the setting.

To learn more about our food program and healthy food options, discuss these ideas with your sales associate or conference planner. We are always open to your ideas.

The National Celebrates Earth Day

The National Conference Center is one of the largest meeting and training facilities in the county. Over the years, the property has obtained many green industry certifications and awards, including Green Seal GS-33 Silver and Virginia Green Certified and is a past winner of the Loudoun County Green Business Challenge. As we create this legacy of taking care of our Earth, we have reached out into the local community to teach children about organic foods, encourage healthy eating habits and sustainability.

earthday1To celebrate Earth Day, April 22, The National continues its green initiatives reaching out to the local community. During our recent Easter celebration, a mock bunny garden with a wheel barrow, garden tools allowing our ‘little’ guests to dig a whole, plant seeds and create plant markers. We are now taking that ‘plant and grow’ theme and creating more opportunities to encourage the community and children to take care of the Earth.

earthday2Now that the seeds are ready to be transplanted, we invite the children back for a planting party on Earth Day. Families and children can come back on Saturday, April 23, between 11 a.m.  – 1 p.m. to tend to the organic garden — water, pull weeds, harvest early peas, lettuce and spinach. The plant markers that were made during the Easter celebration are used to show the plants’ designation. Go to the front desk and ask for Rachael Rutherford, our garden host for the day, and she will escort your to the garden.

During Mother’s Day and other events, Executive Chef Ferrier will be using items from our garden, supplementing with local farmers produce and meeting with them regularly. Often Chef adjusts menus based on what he can get from his local purveyors.

earthday3To celebrate Earth Day week, The National will hold the 2nd Breakfast of Champions event in the Courtyard on Wednesday, April 20 at 8:15 a.m. for the local community with menu items from our local farmers and purveyors. Paul Safran, our Director of Catering, along with Chef Ferrier, will be discussing our sustainability program. Each attendee will receive a tree sapling to plant in their yard.

We continue our commitment to Earth Day celebrations with Jazz it Up, June 25, where we will host a children’s cook off fundraiser using foods from the National’s garden. At any activity at the National, the garden is available for children to enjoy and learn about new plants and techniques.

For more information about our Green Program, email Charline Gordon or call her directly at 703-724-5137.