Who would have guessed that this year’s U.S. presidential election would so prominently feature Hilton hotels and the Hilton family’s famous partier, Paris?In late July, Senator John McCain’s campaign released a TV commercial suggesting that Senator Barack Obama was all celebrity and no substance by comparing him to the hotel heiress (and Britney Spears). And last October, Obama told Tyra Banks that his daughter Malia doesn’t approve of Paris’s high jinks; whenever the family checks in to a hotel, Malia asks, “This isn’t a Hilton hotel, right?”
With the 2008 presidential election in full swing, how will these statements affect where the candidates stay?Will McCain be banned from Hilton hotels?Will Obama sneak into a Garden Inn when not traveling with his family?
No matter what happens, they’ll be exhausted from endless hours on the stump and have to stay somewhere. Some days the choice may come down to the nearest bed, but chances are they’ll be bunking everywhere from five-star resorts to local hotels with nary a mini-bar.
So where will the candidates feel most comfortable?Perhaps you’ll see them gravitate toward hotels that incorporate their respective party’s colors, red and blue. (Get ready, Red Roof Inn.) Even when the color-coding is subtle—say, more of a baby blue or light pink—there are often indications of what hotel might be a better fit for a Barack and Michelle, versus spots that might suit John and Cindy. Sure, this is all speculative, but sometimes candidates do listen to suggestions.
For starters, as the owners of a Ford Escape Hybrid, the Obamas have clearly demonstrated they are willing to shell out a little extra money for the greener option, so the fervently eco Fairmont hotel chain is a no-brainer; its San Francisco property even features a “Lexus Hybrid Living Suite.” Another possibility for the Obamas is one of the biggest hotel companies in the country, Starwood, which offers health care to domestic partners, supports local gay and lesbian charities, and even offers gay-friendly packages to guests—all details that should appeal to Barack Obama, who has said he would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
On the other hand, McCain, whose wife’s $100 million fortune flows from her family’s beer distributor company, the Four Points by Sheraton might appeal. Not only do the hotels advertise an extensive variety of beers, the company even employs a CBO, or Chief Beer Officer.
The candidates may well be spending some serious time in Las Vegas, since Nevada is a swing state in the upcoming election. For John McCain, a self-proclaimed hiking enthusiast, the best option around Sin City might be the suitably named Red Rock Resort, just a few miles from the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
And if either candidate is looking for a hotel chain with outlets nationwide (not to mention globally, for those all-important photo ops with foreign leaders), it may help them to follow the money. The Pritzker family–owned Hyatt hotel group has donated to the Democrats—and Obama’s national finance chair, billionaire Penny Pritzker, still runs part of the Hyatt Group. On the red side, the Marriott group has long been associated with Republicans. Marriott International, Inc. donated the maximum ($250,000) to George W. Bush’s second inauguration, and its chairman and CEO, Bill Marriott, was a supporter of Mitt Romney. With Romney dropping out, one assumes that McCain and his wife will be made to feel very much at home anywhere in the Marriott world—which, happily for millionaire Cindy, includes the deluxe Ritz-Carlton brand.