EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

December 30, 2012

Obama's 2nd inauguration to draw smaller crowds

WASHINGTON — Visitors coming to the nation’s capital for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration can’t stay in the one place President Ronald Reagan’s family once called an eight-star hotel. That spot is the White House, and it’s booked for the next four years.

Still, inauguration-goers have a range of lodging options — from crashing on a friend’s couch to reasonably priced rooms to ones that cost thousands of dollars a night.

With second inaugurations tending to draw fewer spectators, finding a place to stay in Washington won’t be nearly as difficult as in 2009.

City officials are expecting 600,000 to 800,000 visitors for the Jan. 21 inauguration, far less than the 1.8 million people who flooded the National Mall four years ago to witness the inauguration of America’s first black president. Back then, some hotels sold out months in advance and city residents rented out their homes for hundreds of dollars a night. This time, hotels say they’re filling up more slowly, with rooms still available and prices at or slightly below where they were four years ago.

“Very few hotels are actually sold out at this point, so there’s a lot of availability,” said Elliott Ferguson, CEO of the tourism bureau Destination DC, who added that he expected demand to pick up after Christmas.

In 2009, hotel occupancy in the city for the night before the inauguration was 98 percent, and visitors paid an average daily rate of more than $600 that night, according to STR, a company that tracks hotel data. This time, some hotels still have half their rooms available. As a result, some establishments have relaxed minimum stays from four nights to three and could drop prices closer to the time of the inauguration if demand does not increase.

Despite the muted enthusiasm, many of the city’s posh hotels are still offering pricy packages. Visitors with an unlimited budget can check in to accommodations almost as grand and historic as the White House.

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