A High Roller's Dream for President-elect Obama's Inauguration

Hotels in the Washington area are tripping over themselves to attract visitors for the inauguration.


More than 1 million people are expected to descend upon the U.S. Capitol to watch Barack Obama's inauguration in January, but not all of them will get a puppy as a going-away present. Since election night, hotels in Washington, D.C., have been tripping over themselves to attract high rollers with a penchant for political history, luring visitors with a string of glitzy deals.

The Ritz-Carlton kicked things off before Election Day with a $50,000 "politically correct" inauguration package that included a four-night stay, two front-row seats to the inaugural parade, and a "Heart of the Nation" pendant made of white gold, diamonds, rubies, and blue sapphires. The Mandarin Oriental upped the ante when it announced that its presidential suite—at $209,000 a night—was booked.

With other hotels across the nation's capital continuing to fill up, the equally ritzy Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park has raised the stakes. Encouraging its guests to "Live Like the President," the hotel is offering a new "Commander-in-Chief Package"—for a tidy $440,000—that includes a four-night stay, a private jet for arrival and departure, a personal chef, and dining entertainment from the political satirist Mark Russell. That's not all: In addition to a $44,000 shopping spree and a pre-inauguration makeover, the hotel is offering guests a presidential puppy of their choice upon departure, a reference to the president-elect's ongoing dilemma about what kind of dog to buy for his daughters.

"We are excited to celebrate this special time for our country by offering guests a memorable experience of monumental proportions," says Ann Peterson, general manager of the Omni Shoreham. "These packages will make guests the ultimate D.C. insiders."

Clearly, no one told her that interns in this town make $10 an hour.