- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Forget liquid lunches. Hospitality companies are pushing liquid deals a week after the Transportation and Security Administration banned all liquids on airplanes.

Hotels, rental-car companies and salons are trying to relieve travelers’ liquid-related stress with freebies and pampering packages.

The Grooming Lounge, a men’s salon in the District and Tysons Galleria, is giving away shaving cream to male travelers.

“Many people traveling for business just bring a carry-on, and we don’t want them having 5 o’clock shadows for their business meetings,” said Mike Gilman, co-founder of the Grooming Lounge.

Men can receive a free 6.8-ounce bottle of shaving cream by bringing an airplane stub from the same day or the previous day to a Grooming Lounge location. Or, men can go to the Grooming Lounge’s Web site, www.groominglounge.com, and get 20 percent off the $18 bottle of shaving cream by entering their flight number and the code “confiscated.”

The Grooming Lounge is participating in the promotion through the end of the month. He said both locations have given away about five products a day since security rules changed a week ago.

“We’re not trying to make light of it at all,” Mr. Gilman said. “We’re just trying to help people out — trying to de-stress them during a stressful moment.”

Procter & Gamble Co. has donated 25,000 “smile packs” with Crest toothpaste, mouthwash and floss to travelers renting vehicles from Avis at selected U.S. airports, including Washington Dulles International Airport. The packs contain full-sized products and would cost about $10.

“Consumers are basically telling us here, we bought these toiletries and then they’re being taken away because of new security regulations,” Crest spokeswoman Tonia Elrod said. “The least we could do is replenish their products.”

Many hotels already have a supply of toothpaste and toothbrushes on hand for travelers who forget to pack them. But many said this week they have stocked up on all toiletries, including contact solution, hair gel and other products.

“We’ve asked our hotels that they check their stock of complimentary items in the bathrooms and [items available] on request at the front desk,” said John Wolf, spokesman for Marriott International Inc. in Bethesda. “We’ve heard reports of increased requests for these types of items.”

Omni Hotels, an Irving, Texas, chain, expanded its list of complimentary items to include skin care products, cosmetics, hair care, sunscreen, nail polish and contact lens solution.

The Jurys Washington Hotel is selling $299 per-night packages that include bottled water, a smoothie and a basket of liquid toiletries, including hand lotion, shaving cream, deodorant, eye drops and a hydrating facial mask. Typically, a night is about $365.

“Every report all weekend warned the travelers that there is no point in bringing this or bringing that. We’re at the mercy of what TSA is restricting,” said Aine McKee, regional director of sales and marketing at the Dupont Circle hotel. “We don’t want to jeopardize our end of the business and have a business traveler just do a phone meeting instead of coming here in person.”

Last Thursday, when the restrictions were announced, the hotel had many requests from customers looking for toiletries, Miss McKee said.

She says it’s not taking advantage of a security problem.

“It’s just a matter of listening to what the customer wants.”

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