Friday, 4 September 2015
Saudi king books entire DC Four Seasons hotel for 3 nights ahead of his first White House meeting with Obama
In anticipation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia’s stay, the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown has done some redecorating, literally rolling out red carpets in order to accommodate the royal’s luxurious taste, Kate Bennetts' Politico reports.
Eyewitnesses at the property have seen crates of gilded furniture and accessories being wheeled into the posh hotel over the past several days, culminating in a home-away-from-home fit for the billionaire Saudi monarch, who is in Washington for his first White House meeting with President Barack Obama.
"Everything is gold,” says one Four Seasons regular, who spied the deliveries arriving at the hotel. "Gold mirrors, gold end tables, gold lamps, even gold hat racks." Red carpets have been laid down in hallways and even in the lower parking garage, so the king and his family never have to touch asphalt when departing their custom Mercedes caravan.
Security is tight as well which is normal for such a visit, perhaps, but Saudi officials likely remember the bizarre 2011 bomb plot, linked to Iranian intelligence, that aimed to blow up then Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, now the foreign minister, at a Georgetown restaurant.
The guests staying at the 222-room hotel for the next couple of days are all part of the 79-year-old king’s entourage of Saudi diplomats, family members and assistants, one source said; a full buyout of the entire property was reserved for the visit. Guests who had booked to stay at the Four Seasons during the royal visit have apparently been moved to other luxury hotels in town.
A call to the Four Seasons confirmed the hotel is sold out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. King Salman, who ascended the throne in January, has a habit of displacing commoners for his own comforts; this summer, during a sojourn to the French Riviera, his eight-day stay forced the closure of a popular beach, enraging locals. Salman rolls deep, with a reported 1,000-person delegation joining him for his seaside August vacation. Wall St. Journal reporter Carol Lee snapped this photograph of Salman's entourage arriving at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday: Saudis seem to have enough vehicles for King Salman's visit - the car fleet parked at Joint Base Andrews.
At the Four Seasons on Thursday morning, the Washington “power breakfast” crowd didn’t seem to mind being displaced from their regular dining spot at the hotel’s lower-level Seasons restaurant to the main floor’s Bourbon Steak, a move made to accommodate the king. Foreign dignitaries and royals often choose to stay at the Four Seasons, as much for the hotel’s proximity to the White House, State Department and Embassy Row as for its 4,000-square-foot Royal Suite, equipped with private elevator and bulletproof windows for privacy and security.
Last month, the hotel, which opened in 1979, embarked on a $13 million renovation, redecorating the rooms, adding more art and committing to a guest experience that focuses on the best night’s sleep.
A press release cited new options for maximizing the sleep experience, including a new sleep-aid menu with “scented pillow oils,” “calming bath melts,” pre-selected mattress toppers in firm or plush, and custom pillow choices, which include a water-filled option. A representative for the Four Seasons declined to comment for this story.
Source: Kate Bennett for POLITICO