- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Washington hoteliers are trying to lure high-spending inauguration guests with extravagantly priced packages including private jets, personal butlers and chauffeurs, beluga caviar and Dom Perignon.

But so far — two weeks before the Jan. 20 inauguration —many of the pricey hotel packages that range from $25,000 to $200,500 are still available.

While the Hay-Adams Hotel booked its $25,000 package, other hotels like the Ritz-Carlton will decide soon when to stop offering their lavish packages and open their available rooms for a less-expensive price tag.

Most of these packages will not actually sell, but hotel officials are still banking on last-minute guests to open their wallets.

The Mandarin Oriental wasn’t around for the last inauguration and is making up for it with a $200,500 package that includes a five-day, four-night stay at the 14-room, 3,500-square-foot Presidential Suite.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a couple wanting to celebrate the election of the candidate of their choice in an over-the-top fashion,” said General Manager Darrell Sheaffer.

The hotel guests will get private jet service to and from Washington, designer outfits from Neiman Marcus for inaugural events, a chauffeur-driven Maybach, spa treatments, daily breakfast in bed, 24-hour personal butler service, monogrammed plush robes and a 20-set DVD collection of Washington-based movies.

“We thought, ‘What would our customers like, and what do they expect from us?’” said Ellen Gale, director of public relations at the Mandarin Oriental, which opened in March on Maryland Avenue Southwest. “With a luxury hotel, you’re selling a lifestyle.”

Rates at the 400-room hotel usually start at $345 per night. The hotel is almost sold out for the inauguration.

Those guests who don’t splurge on the ritzy package will still get some special treatment. The hotel will give keepsakes each night and an inaugural parade survival kit, which will include aspirin, hand warmers, disposable cameras, pecans, bottled waters and tissue.

The inauguration comes during one of the slowest months of the year for the city’s hotel industry. January occupancy usually hovers around 52 percent in the District.

City officials are expecting an 85 percent occupancy Jan. 18-21.

The Hay-Adams on 16th Street Northwest has sold its $25,000 package for a four-night stay in its Federal Suite.

The package includes presidential cuff links, personal engraved stationery, a private four-course dinner for up to eight guests one evening and in-suite services such as massage, hair and make-up.

The Ritz-Carlton in Northwest has been offering an inauguration package since 1988, when it cost just $15,000. Now, the package is priced at a hefty $150,000.

It starts with a personal butler arriving at the guests’ home to pack up their belongings in a new $20,000 set of luggage.

The package includes a four-night stay, with first-class travel on a plane to Washington, a 24-hour on-call chauffeur and butler, personal massage therapist, 25-person champagne and beluga caviar reception, tickets for one of the official inaugural balls and evening wear from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Guests also will get two weekend stays per year until inauguration 2009.

Hotel officials will decide today when they will make the suite available without the package.

The Fairmont Washington, D.C., on M Street Northwest is giving guests the chance to be “president for a day” with its $10,000-per-night package.

Guests, who must stay four nights, will be treated like president and first lady — complete with their own faux “secret service.” They will stay in the Presidential Suite, get in-room massages and host a reception for 10 before being whisked away by a chauffeured Rolls Royce to inaugural festivities.

The Fairmont’s Presidential Suite usually runs about $5,000 a night.

The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, has teamed up with Four Seasons properties in three other cities for its “Presidential Suite Whistle Stop Tour.”

The $100,000 package, available throughout January, includes a two-night stay in the presidential suite of hotels in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington and transportation between cities on Amtrak’s Acela.

Among other things, the guests will get five-course dinners and one-hour limousine tours of each city’s presidential highlights.

“It’s really meant to celebrate the American heritage — where our history began,” said Four Seasons spokeswoman Tricia Messerschmitt.

The Four Seasons’ package has not yet been booked.

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