The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. hotels were expecting an inaugural booking frenzy. Instead they’ve got vacancies.

The Fairmont Hotel’s $500,000 inauguration package, which includes a private chef for your dog, is still up for grabs. The hotel is about half-booked for January’s festivities. (Courtesy of Fairmont)

A few blocks from the White House, employees at the St. Regis hotel had spent weeks preparing for election night.

They knew that as soon as the country’s next president was announced, or even a few hours before, there would be an onslaught of requests from supporters looking to book rooms for January’s inauguration. As they do every four years, the hotel staffed its reservation desk around-the-clock and waited.

Except this time, the calls didn’t come.

Nearly 36 hours after Donald Trump was named the country’s next president, the luxury hotel hadn’t received a single new reservation for January’s festivities.

“Nope, zero, nothing,” said Douglas Camp, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “Dead silence.”

In fact, that wasn’t exactly true. The hotel did receive two calls on Wednesday morning — both from Democrats looking to cancel their previously made reservations.

In a departure from the postelection booking frenzy that generally descends on Washington’s toniest properties every four years, hotel managers in and near the District say they’ve received very few calls as stunned supporters on either side of the aisle pause to process the election results. Nearly all say they expect their rooms to eventually sell out, albeit gradually.

“Things are definitely slower on the uptake this year,” said Shane Krige, general manager of the Fairmont in Georgetown. “It’s not like eight years ago, when the entire hotel was sold out in a day.”

Many Trump supporters may not have expected their candidate to win, Krige added, which probably means they’re scrambling to make travel arrangements and book flights before they secure hotel rooms.

“I think a lot of people are trying to digest the outcome and figure out their plans,” he said. “This has been a complicated election.”

Some hotels, including the Hay-Adams and the Four Seasons, said they had been fielding a steady stream of inquiries beginning Wednesday, but declined to provide specifics. And there was no immediate word on how many reservations are on the books at the president-elect’s newest property, the Trump International Hotel, which is just blocks from the White House. Representatives for the hotel did not respond to requests for comment.

The inauguration festivities that hit Washington every four years have become a display of over-the-top extravagance and one-upmanship for the area’s most luxurious hotels. This year’s most lavish offers include a $500,000 package at the Fairmont that includes round-trip travel on a private jet, a closet full of clothing from Saks Fifth Avenue and home-cooked meals for your dog. The Ritz-Carlton Washington, meanwhile, is offering a $150,000 inaugural package that includes a four-night stay, as well as some souvenirs: a three-carat sapphire necklace and pillowcases monogrammed with the presidential seal. (While more modest rooms are being sold, both packages are still up for grabs.)

One of the most lavish hotel inauguration packages includes a private chef for your dog

There are, however, signs that demand may soon pick up. At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which operates 10 hotels in the District, calls from Trump supporters began Wednesday afternoon.

“We had a nice pop in activity after lunch,” said Jack Lindmuth, Kimpton’s city director of revenue. “I think people just wanted to sleep in a little bit.”

The Hotel George and Hotel Monaco, both Kimpton properties, are nearly 90 percent booked for the inauguration, Lindmuth said. He said the bulk of those reservations are from businesses, media outlets, special interest groups and lobbyists who would have attended regardless of the election’s outcome.

It’s a similar story on the outskirts of town. The Hilton Crystal City at Washington Reagan National Airport has already secured pre-election bookings from student groups and government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security for inauguration-night stays.

But calls from Trump supporters since his victory have been all but nonexistent.

“I think we’ll start to see a little more movement next week,” said Tammy Bowser, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.

Trump supporters, she said, just weren’t prepared to begin booking hotel rooms right away. But she expects that to change soon: “People who didn’t think they’d ever have a reason to come to Washington are now trying to figure out how to get here.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke at the grand opening of Trump International Hotel. (Video: The Washington Post)

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