Inaugural no boon for local hoteliers
Posted: January 8, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — The second time around for President Barack Obama isn’t generating the same level of excitement.
The inauguration of the country’s first black president four years ago drew nearly 2 million people to the National Mall — many of whom stayed in hotels in the Winchester area.
This time, officials expect 600,000 to 800,000 attendees for Obama’s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 21 and local hotels have yet to see any bump in bookings for the inauguration.
“We haven’t seen any increase in activity yet,” said David Cavallaro, general manager of the George Washington Hotel in Winchester.
In 2009, the George Washington was fully booked by mid-November for the inauguration, despite being 76 miles west of the Capitol — about an hour and 30 minutes driving time without traffic.
The Aloft Hotel on Millwood Pike also hasn’t seen any extra bookings, according to front desk “talent” Nick Banks.
Closer to Washington, D.C., in Leesburg, there also hasn’t been a lot of activity.
The Homewood Suites there still has plenty of availability, according to front desk supervisor Lorita Maital.
Four years ago, the hotel — which is 41 miles from the Capitol and a 50-minute drive — was all booked by late November or early December, Maital said.
Even in D.C., rooms are still available, while some hotels closer to the events are booked up, said Kate Gibbs, media relations manager for Destination DC, the city’s tourism organization.
“Second inaugurations are by nature smaller,” she said.
Even by design, Obama’s second ceremony will be scaled back. His inaugural committee has scheduled only three days of events rather than four like in 2009.
He will be sworn in on Jan. 20 in private since the day falls on a Sunday. The public swearing-in the following day will coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, increasing the historical significance.
But it still can’t match the 2009 inauguration.
“In my opinion, the second go round just isn’t the same,” Cavallaro said.
Obama conceded as much often during his re-election campaign. He would often tell supporters he’s a little older and grayer and the Obama bandwagon doesn’t hold the same appeal as in 2008, but that his policies were still better for the country.
On Nov. 6, the electorate — although perhaps less enthusiastically than in 2008 — decided he was right.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org