D.C.'s Luxe Inauguration Lodgings: Empty
Last week, we found out that every D.C. resident is not going to make a bundle renting out their house for the inauguration next week.
Today, we find out the same applies to Washington luxe hotels.
Bloomberg reports that either the recession or dollar-signs-in-the-eyes over-estimation of demand is leaving many high-end, big-spender accommodations in Washington largely empty as Tuesday's inauguration approaches.
The Omni Shoreham's $440,000 package -- including the presidential suite, a private jet and personal concierge -- is still, shockingly, available. It also includes, for some reason, a later trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. The Ticker cannot understand why this package has no takers -- it includes a private performance by political satirist Mark Russell.
The Washington Hilton got no (that's zero) takers for its $44,000, four-night "Behind the Inaugural Bash" package. (Maybe if it had been priced at $4,400.)
A $2,000-per-person "Yes We Can 2009 Inauguration Cruise" was canceled for lack of passengers.
The Mandarin Oriental dreamed up a $200,000 package that would have included four nights in its 14-room presidential suite, use of a chauffeured Maserati Quattroporte, Ralph Lauren attire to wear at an inaugural ball and 24-hour butler service. ("Hello, Jeeves? Yes, I know it's 3 a.m. But I simply cannot stand this piece of lint on the sleeve of my morning jacket.")
For lack of takers for the top-end package, the Mandarin scaled back a bit and managed to book the suite for $10,000 per night sans bells and whistles.
How did these giants of hospitality guess so wrong and end up with so many empty, very expensive rooms?
Howard Davidovitz, a New York retail consultant speculated: "The person who would normally take these luxury packages is someone working for Bear Stearns -- they don't exist anymore; Lehman Brothers -- they don't exist anymore; or Merrill Lynch, which is a shadow of its former self," Davidovitz told Bloomberg.
Hotel rooms in the Washington area going for mere-mortal rates are largely sold out.
January 16, 2009; 7:00 PM ET
Categories: The Ticker | Tags: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Obama, inauguration, recession
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