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Inaugural hotel packages lure capital outlays

Polish the Rolls. Chill the champagne. Get out the diamonds and furs. High-rolling Republican revelers are coming here to celebrate President Bush's second inauguration, and the hotels are ready.

Consider the Mandarin Oriental's "Presidential Privilege" package Jan. 17-21. A private jet will carry a couple from anywhere in the continental United States to the District, and a limo will take them to the hotel _ and its 3,500-square-foot Presidential Suite. The suite has 14 rooms, including a gym, a kitchen, a game room with leather walls, and a parlor with 25-foot ceilings, and, of course, its own butler.

To get around, the couple will have a choice of a Hummer, Maybach or Rolls-Royce, with a chauffeur on call 24 hours a day.

There are tickets to "an inaugural event," but don't bother packing for it. The package includes a wardrobe from Nieman Marcus _ an Oscar de la Renta evening gown and matching Manolo Blahnik shoes, a Judith Leiber handbag, an emerald ring and a full-length mink coat for the lady, and a Kiton tuxedo, Burberry reversible coat, 18-carat gold Cartier watch and jeweled cuff links for the gentleman.

The couple will host a private, five-course dinner party for eight guests prepared by the hotel chef and sommelier. Every evening, they will be served Krug champagne and Beluga caviar in the suite while they enjoy a panoramic city view.

Spa treatments, manicures and pedicures, breakfast in bed, hair styling and a cosmetic makeover are all included.

As keepsakes, the couple gets matching plush robes emblazoned with political party symbols, 20 DVDs of movies set in Washington, and an American flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol.

The cost is $200,500 _ not including tax and tips.

If you'd rather go upscale, though, there's the $1-million inauguration package at the Jefferson Hotel, located four blocks from the White House.

In addition to most of the Mandarin Oriental's features, this deal includes his and her gold Presidential Rolex watches with diamond dials (hers comes on a diamond bracelet) with a private fitting in the Presidential Suite.

The couple will pick out their ballroom garb from Saks and the lady gets a matching diamond necklace, earring and bracelet set from Tiffany's.

The guests get a private tour of the exhibit "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years." This entails a second jaunt by private jet, because the exhibition is in Chicago.

There the guests will spend one night in a suite at the House of Blues, eat a dinner for two inspired by JFK's inaugural dinner, and splurge at a private shopping spree at Marshall Field's.

What inspires such excesses of luxury? Inaugurations traditionally provide the biggest boost to the capital's hospitality industry.

"There will be some times during the year when we have more people in the city _ the Fourth of July for instance _ but for sheer impact in hotels, retailing, restaurants and transportation, this is our No. 1 event," said Bill Hanbury, president of the District's Convention and Tourism Corp.

"It brings in $50-million plus, for the three or four days surrounding the inauguration."

That generates luxury hotel packages costing tens of thousands of dollars, many with presidential themes.

+ The Fairmont Hotel wants its guests to experience being "president for a day" and "first lady for a day," so its package includes two actors portraying Secret Service agents. In their Presidential Suite, the couple will host a "state reception" for 10 people who will sip Dom Perignon champagne and eat Beluga caviar. The cost is $10,000 per night _ with a four-night minimum.

+ The Sofitel Hotel on Lafayette Square across from the White House will fill its Presidential Suite with fresh yellow roses for four days for its $75,000 "Don't Mess With Texas" inaugural package.

Upon check-in, the guest couple will have vodka martinis flavored with habanero peppers and Texas beef carpaccio served in their suite. There's a keepsake honoring the Lone Star state's favorite son every day _ sterling silver spurs engraved with the inaugural logo, eight four-piece place settings of official White House china, his and her Tony Lama snakeskin cowboy boots, and gold Cartier watches with an inauguration inscription.

+ With the Ritz-Carlton's $150,000 "Presidential Package 2005," a butler will fly to the guests' home to pack for the trip _ in an included $20,000 set of Louis Vuitton luggage. The butler will remain on call around the clock in Washington, along with a chauffeur and personal massage therapist. And some features serve a full four-year term: two weekend stays at the Ritz-Carlton every year until the 2009 inauguration, and a Hermes scarf for the lady and Hermes tie for the gentleman every month until the next president is sworn into office.

Most of the highest-price deals are still available, but some _ like the Hay-Adams Hotel's inauguration $25,000 package _ have been reserved.

To find and book accommodations, Hanbury said, "a good place to start is our Web site," www.washington.org.

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