Political hotels

In the midst of, perhaps, the most intense political campaign in American history the Los Angeles Times has chosen to run a piece with an appropriate theme – hotels with a political past. The article notes that , unsurprisingly, the most smoke-filled room in politics was a hotel room and “Surely it’s no shock to learn that hotel was in Chicago”. The hotel in question is the Blackstone, a Marriott hotel, which opened in 1910 and was in business till the 1990s. It is slated to reopen next month.

Perhaps, the most meaningful hotel in terms of its contribution of a word that is now in common parlance is Washington D.C.’s Willard Intercontinental, the birthplace of the term “lobbyist.” “Many historians trace the word back to President Grant, who liked to smoke and drink at the hotel during his term and noted the growing number of downstairs”.

Expectedly, the Watergate Hotel is featured as “part of the complex that was scene of the botched burglary attempt by then-President Nixon’s re-election henchmen. It closed last year for renovation, and is supposed to reopen in 2009”. Also, finding itself in print is Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel “that one that was just recently demolished — was site of the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968”.

New York’s fabled Plaza hotel goes unmentioned, perhaps, because its distinctions, political and otherwise, are far too numerous. Besides being the scene for many a storied move, the Plaza lends its name to one of the most famous financial agreements in world history – the eponymously named Plaza Accord. That was an agreement signed in 1985 at the hotel in New York City by five nations:- the United States, France, West Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. The five agreed to depreciate the US dollar in relation to the Japanese yen and German Deutsche Mark by intervening in currency markets. That resulted in the dollar’s devaluation and eventually reduced the US current account deficit and to help the US economy to emerge from a serious recession that began in the early 1980s.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.