Perfect Hotels for the Presidential Candidates
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.
Starwood Hotels, Hawaii
Why It’s Obama-Friendly: When visiting his birthplace of Hawaii, gay-friendly Obama, who has vowed to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, might head to one of the 12 liberal-minded Starwood properties scattered over the islands, like the W Honolulu Diamond Head, which has a “Pride 365” package that runs all year round.
The McCain Factor: The bar at the Royal Hawaiian, Starwood’s pink palace on Waikiki, is the site of John and Cindy’s first date. But McCain will have to wait until after the election to revisit: presently being transformed into a Luxury Collection property, the hotel is closed for renovations until January 2009.
Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas
Why It’s McCain-Friendly: Well, there’s the name. And the fact that this luxurious resort is removed from the sinful shows along the Strip. And then there’s John’s hidden hobby: hiking. (Who knew?) It’s also just down the street from the most beautiful canyon in the Las Vegas region, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The Obama Factor: Rande Gerber, Democratic supporter and friend of super-blue George Clooney, runs the hotel’s surprisingly cool hot spot, Cherry Nightclub.
Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
Why It’s Obama-Friendly: Eco-savvy Obama might steer himself to this Nob Hill landmark’s Lexus Hybrid Living Suite, which comes with the use of a Lexus Hybrid car and a bottle of California-grown organic wine.
The McCain Factor: McCain’s pal, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, once dropped $5,370 at this hotel on a suite with views of Alcatraz, according to the Washington Post.
Four Points by Sheraton Philadelphia City Center, Philadelphia
Why It’s McCain-Friendly: Cindy McCain is worth millions, thanks to her family’s beer distributor company, so she and her husband may well feel at home in this chain, which shares the McCains’ appreciation of suds. The hotel features a Best Brews program (the in-hotel beer “happy hours“ showcase a huge hoppy selection from local breweries) and even employs a CBO, or Chief Beer Officer.
The Obama Factor: The McCains may find that the guests sitting on nearby bar stools aren’t quite as worked up about Obama’s threat to repeal Bush’s tax cuts for high earners.
Hyatt Hotel, Denver
Why It’s Obama-Friendly: As host of the Democratic National Convention, the Mile High City’s Hyatt Regency is a no-brainer for Obama. And in fact, he has an in with the Hyatt brand, which is owned by the Pritzker family: Penny Pritzker, who still runs part of the Hyatt Group, is Obama’s national finance chair.
The McCain Factor: During the Republican Convention in Minneapolis, John McCain will be staying in St. Paul, but the Vermont Republican Delegation (left-leaning, let’s face it) chose the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis for its headquarters.
Ritz-Carlton Central Park, New York City
Why It’s McCain-Friendly: Managed by Marriott, which is helmed by longtime Republican supporter Bill Marriott, the Ritz-Carlton is a perfect base for McCain in the Big Apple. He’s never going to carry Hillary’s home state, but anyone running an expensive national campaign needs to do some hobnobbing with the billionaire Republicans and Independents in town, like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose manse is just a few blocks away.
The Obama Factor: The hotel has lefty-sounding “Give Back Getaways,” where guests volunteer under Community Footprints, the company’s social and environmental responsibility program. It also sponsors “Day in the Dirt” special events with the Central Park Conservancy.
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
Why It’s Obama-Friendly: A favorite of the young (and just young-acting) musicians and actors who love them some Obama, André Balazs’s Chateau
is where Barack’s number one fan, Scarlett Johansson, stays when she’s
in Los Angeles.
The McCain Factor: None. Not a scintilla.
Four Seasons Canary Wharf, London
Why It’s McCain-Friendly: The part-owner of this hotel group is the “Arabian Warren Buffett,” billionaire Prince Al-Walid, who once donated $500,000 to the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. So when Cindy swung through London in June 2008, after her humanitarian visit to Vietnam, she should have felt at home.
The Obama Factor: Former smoker Barack might appreciate this Four Seasons for its four nonsmoking floors, a rarity in Europe.