Sunday, November 23, 2008

Luxurious D.C. Lodging

As Slate notes, D.C. locals are gearing up to profit from the big crowds expected for Inauguration weekend. Area hotels are booking up fast, and raising prices on rooms.

Some hotels are really raising prices, with luxurious packages for big spenders. Five-day packages including lodging, chauffeur service, parade and ball tickets, shopping sprees, and various extras range from $40,000 to $99,000 at hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, the Mayflower and the Hyatt Regency, among others. (More details on the D.C. tourism site.)

I spoke with public relations at Ritz-Carlton about the hotel's $50,000 and $99,000 packages. There are "very interested buyers but we have not signed the contracts yet."

At least one extravagant package has been booked. And it is on the high-end of high-end, with a $200,900 price tag. Public relations at the Mandarin Oriental Washington say it has booked its "Presidential Privilege" package for two:

The package includes a five-day, four-night stay in the hotel's luxurious 3,000 sq.-ft. Presidential Suite with daily breakfast in the suite; designer outfits for inaugural events from Ralph Lauren; a chauffeur-driven Maserati Quattroporte; an exclusive dinner for eight guests at Mandarin Oriental's signature restaurant CityZen, prepared by James Beard Award-winning Chef Eric Ziebold; and daily spa treatments.

Still waiting to hear back from the Mandarin about the possibility of talking to the big spenders who nabbed this package.

Spread the Wealth Around [Slate]
Hotel prices, bookings soar for inauguration [USAToday]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Inaugural "New Yorkers and Inauguration 2009" Post

This blog will follow my reporting on New Yorkers' plans for the 2009 Inauguration.

There was a lot of excitement and political drama around the 2008 election. Now all that energy is being redirected to the Inauguration, when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Given the historic nature of this inauguration, with the U.S.'s first African-American president to take office, huge crowds are expected in the nation's capital.

Visitor estimates vary from publication to publication:

  • The Washington Post reports that D.C. Metro officials are preparing to transport one of the largest crowds ever in its 32-year history, "as many as 1.6 million people."
  • NBC Washington News says government officials are preparing for "crowds of up to 4 million." (And then cites a Nov. 18 Washington Post article as a source)
  • The Chicago Sun-Times raises the ante by one million, reporting that D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is estimating that "Obama’s inauguration could lead to an unprecedented turnout of 3 million to 5 million people."
The exact number may not be certain, but it is certain that the crowd will be huge. The hugest ever, says Fox News:

[O]fficials expect to see more people at this inauguration than any other in the past.

The National Park Service says the largest crowd ever on the National Mall was for President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1965 inauguration. At the time, the park service estimated 1.2 million people attended the event.

As I report, I hope to find New Yorkers who plan to be part of this vast crowd of 1 million/4 million/5 million, and to find out, among other things, why they want to be there, how they are getting there, and where they hope to find a place to stay.

Metro Bulks Up for Massive Inauguration Crowds [Washington Post]
Could Inauguration Crowd Reach 4 Million? [NBC News]
Barack Obama inauguration crowd estimate soars to 5 million [Chicago Sun-Times]
Secret Service Amps Up Inauguration Day Security [Fox News]