Why Obama Will be the First President in Decades Not to Stay at Waldorf Astoria
Fears of spying are reportedly to blame.
For decades, whenever an American president came to New York, he would stay at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. That is about to change with President Barack Obama. After President Obama appears at a New York City fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at a private residence tonight, according to his White House schedule, he’ll take in the musical “Hamilton” and then stay over at the Millennium ONE UN, according to The New York Post.
What he won’t do is sleep in the Presidential Suite of the Waldorf Astoria New York, even though it has been the go-to choice for American presidents since Herbert Hoover.
According to an Associated Press report, that has everything to do with the hotel’s new Chinese ownership.
Last fall, Hilton Worldwide Holdings sold the hotel in October 2014 to Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. China’s government and companies have invested heavily in prime New York City real estate. According to Hilton’s press release, Hilton would continue to operate the property under a 100-year lease and the hotel would “undergo a major renovation to restore the property to its historic grandeur.”
The planned renovation raised eyebrows at the White House, according to AP, over fear of potential Chinese electronic eavesdropping. The administration has suspected the involvement of Chinese hackers in a massive data breach and, at the time of the sale, officials said that the change in ownership could have implications for the relationship between the White House and the hotel. Chinese hacking has even become a element of the presidential race, with Hillary Clinton stating that China tries to “hack into everything that doesn’t move in America.”
The United States itself has been known to spy on other countries. The National Security Agency monitored calls of 35 world leaders, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The White House did not answer questions from Fortune before publication.
Hilton, which continues to operate the Waldorf, issued a statement: “It is always a privilege to host representatives of the U.S. Department of State and we hope to have the occasion to welcome them back to the Waldorf Astoria New York when the opportunity presents itself.”
Current prices for the Presidential Suite running between $1999 and $10,000 and possibly more a night, depending on how many bedrooms are connected to the Waldorf’s Presidential Suite, according to information provided by Hilton to Fortune. Even though the White House pays considerably less, a stay typically involves renting out three floors of the building. Here’s hoping that the administration at least managed to land a better deal. Or a more secure one.
This article originally appeared on fortune.com.