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Luxury stores pop up in D.C. hotels for inauguration

9:52 PM, Jan 17, 2013   |    comments
Saks Fifth Avenue in Ritz-Carlton, DC (Photo: Ritz-Carlton)
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(USA TODAY) -- Luxury retailers are popping up in luxury hotels throughout the nation's capital this weekend as an array of social, political and entertainment elite descend on Washington, D.C., for Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Montblanc and Bloomingdale's are among stores staging temporary boutiques in hotel lobbies.

Guests at the Ritz-Carlton at 22nd and M Streets in Northwest D.C. can schedule complimentary appointments with makeup artists from Chanel and Dior as part of the hotel's partnership with Saks, Jan. 18-21.

The Saks shop will also feature fur coats and wraps, designer jewelry and memorabilia such as a snow globe of the city. And guests can browse the full inventory of the brand's Chevy Chase, Md., store on an iPad in case of any last-minute ballgown or other specialty needs, says Kerri Larkin, marketing director for the Chevy Chase Saks.

The Saks and Ritz partnership, which has been taking place since George W. Bush's second inauguration in 2005, makes sense because of the overlap in the two brands' customer base, Larkin says.

"We do have a very similar clientele," she says, "so it makes sense for our brand to be involved."

The Ritz will also have a new partnership this year with Bloomingdale's at its Georgetown location, which often hosts more guests in the "entertainment business," says Ritz spokeswoman Colleen Evans.

Most of both hotels' guests have "some connection to the (presidential) administration, so they've got a jam-packed calendar for those four days. They don't have time to run out to the department store to pick up any items they've forgotten."

Prices at the Bloomingdale's shop will range from a $16 lipstick to a $3,000 mink stole, says Susan Cannaday, general manager of the department store's Chevy Chase, Md., location.

Montblanc is setting up shop in the lobby of the St. Regis at 16th and K Streets and will offer products specific to American presidencies. A collection of fountain pens and accompanying books for each of the founding fathers will be available as well as an exclusive book of stories related to past inaugurations.

Rooms at the St. Regis started at $950 a night for inauguration weekend; the Presidential Suite goes for $10,000 a night and is booked, says general manager Laura Schofield.

Neiman Marcus will also be at the St. Regis selling accessories guests may have forgotten, such as tux shirts, black socks, scarves and hats and will feature a beauty bar with makeup by Bobbi Brown, says spokeswoman Ginger Reeder.

For the retailers, inauguration is a chance to serve "a big-ticket, out-of-town crowd," says Kitty Kelley, a longtime D.C. resident and author of biographies on Nancy Reagan and the Bush family.

"They are going after the two-percenters, because that's who's coming to town," she says. "They're going to get a lot of those impulse expensive buys."

As Larkin from Saks describes it, the inauguration is "the jewel event of the city."

"Any time there's a big influx of attention and clients that would attend these events (who also shop) in our stores," she says, "we look to capitalize on that."

 

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