Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The $99,000 Inauguration Package and Some Predictions

Feeling like an entrepreneur? Want to make something for (almost) nothing? Don't mind feeling like an opportunist? Try selling your apartment floor for the Presidential Inauguration.

My parents and many, many of my friends want to come up to DC, but none of them can find a room, surprise. I have friends who would never visit DC because of traffic, crime, "its boring," too far, New York's cooler, too close, traffic (again), too conservative/liberal or whatever reason they could come up with. Now these same people now want to join the rest of the Western world in trying to secure tickets and lodging to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. My parents live within driving distance, but they would like to stay in a hotel. Most hotels are sold out from here to Manassas and Baltimore (that is not a joke). But there is one package they might be interested in: The Ritz-Carleton Red, White, Blue and Green Inauguration Package. Its for the location in Georgetown, on South Street.

It costs $99,000.00. Yes, ninety nine thousand United States dollars, zero cents. What might you get for the nearly tenth of a million dollars? Well
  • Four-night stay in a Presidential Suite
  • First Class Round trip airline tickets
  • 24-hour on-call chauffeur in luxury hybrid vehicle
  • Gucci luggage set to last a lifetime
  • Seating for two at the Inaugural parade
  • Two tickets to one of the official Inaugural balls
  • Private dinner in the Chimney Stack dining room, featuring all-organic menu and organic wine pairing (up to 8 people)
  • In-room Eco-Friendly Bath and Body Works Spa Gift Basket
  • Eco Lux in room amenities including organic slippers and monogrammed bath robes
  • Four night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman including round trip first class airline transfers from Washington, D. C. to Grand Cayman

Basically , the R-C put together a package centered around sustainable travel and living coupled with the fact that, oh, a certain someone will be starting a certain jobbie job that day. Other pieces of the puzzle include TerraPasses to offset the carbon omissions incurred during your airplane flights, a post-inauguration vacation on Grand Cayman Island, and a "sustainable" custom set of luggage by Gucci. I have no idea what sustainable luggage looks like, but I hope they aren't made of leather! Maybe they are made of recycled old luggage or something. You also get chauffeured around town in a hybrid vehicle all week and two tickets to an inaugural ball and the inaugural parade. I'm guessing the parent company to R-C has made a few political donations, at least enough to have guaranteed tickets to the parade and a ball.

It has been virtually impossible for the normal people to get a hold of tickets. I've tried calling our Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton and my parents tried their Representative, neither with any luck. There are 250,000 official tickets available, each and everyone to be distributed through the Inaugural Committee and members if the United States Congress. My best guess is that they'll provide another venue--the Mall, Verizon Center, Nationals Park, etc-- in order to accommodate the masses with live feed video screens. I predict more than 1.5 million visitors for the inauguration. I also predict a new Metro rail daily ridership record, surpassing the 854,638 riders set on July 11, 2008.

DC will be packed and buzzing more than usual during Inauguration week. Its also likely to be in a deep freeze. I attended events at the 2005 Inauguration and most of the week was spent in sub freezing, icy conditions. Outside events were nearly unbearable, leaving participants numb from head to toe between the low temperatures and the listless presenters playing mostly to tele cameras and not to the crowds.

My floor may have a few bodies on it that January week. I am open to hosting my friends, fly by night DC fans or no. We will have a good time and I can try to show them that we in DC are indeed always cool, new President or not. Obviously, I'd never charge anyone! Are you hosting anyone? Are you renting your place out? Are you getting out of town to avoid the crowds? Just curious.