Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Hotels & Resorts


President Obama shares a toast at his January inauguration celebration;
courtesy of wikimedia.org

Whether it’s the fiscal cliff, debt ceiling or sequester, we have been bombarded with one potential economic apocalypse after another, mainly as a result of the self-absorbed, dysfunctional reality TV show that is the U.S. government. These days, politics is not about what you have to say, but how loud you say it, and even this doesn’t matter, as the other side most likely isn’t even listening. In an attempt to bridge the divide and save the country from the never-ending cacophony of juvenile talking points, President Obama decided to take a cue from the meetings industry and do something unheard of in Washington—meet.

Yesterday evening, President Obama met with 12 Republican senators for dinner at the prestigious Jefferson Hotel, just a few blocks north of the White House. The event was a clear shift in strategy for the president, as it followed weeks of ineffective campaign-style rallies meant to pressure the GOP into raising revenues in order to avoid the $85 million dollar sequester cuts. The senators, who were assembled by moderate Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) at the president’s behest, represented potential partners with which a deal on the country’s finances could be struck. Working behind the scenes and facilitating this colossal meeting of the minds was the seasoned staff of the Jefferson, who from all accounts put on a flawless event.

“The pressure didn’t affect our staff very much, as they are used to handling high-profile events,” says Alicia Rodrigues, the property’s marketing manager. “The guests seemed to enjoy themselves and we received a few complements on the food from some of the senators as they left.”

According to Rodrigues, the White House, which has used the Jefferson a number of times for fundraisers and campaign rallies,  had informed the hotel of the event nearly two weeks in advance, but revealed who was actually attending only four days before it happened. As you can imagine, the preparation was immense, as swarms of Secret Service agents inspected the building, interviewed the staff and set up security positions. With the input of the White House, the hotel’s catering staff carefully set up the decor, making sure everything was perfect. Finally, after all the guests had arrived, they were given a menu from Plume, the hotel’s award-winning, onsite restaurant, which included French delicacies such as Rabbit Charcuterie, Foie Gras Terrine and Moulard Duck Breast.


The Jefferson Hotel’s Parlor Boardroom, where yesterday’s dinner took place.

Although a financial breakthrough remained elusive, most media outlets reported that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and that the talks were constructive. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), as quoted in an article from The Hill, said “It was a very positive meeting, it really was,” while another article from Politico quoted Graham as saying the experience was “Great!” Perhaps the president’s charm, and fact that he picked up the check from of his own pocket, helped smooth things over. Adding a meal, even an enjoyable one, to the deficit probably wouldn’t have gone over well with that crowd.

As for the Jefferson and its staff, the event was just another one in the books. The 99-room property, which has seen its fair share of events since it opened in 1955, maintained its position as one of the premier meeting locations in Washington, D.C., and potentially set the stage for an end to the fiscal insanity.

When asked why the hotel draws so many government meetings, Rodrigues casually replied “The Jefferson’s historic nature and nostalgia, its intimate spaces and the fact that its named after Thomas Jefferson simply make it the perfect location for any government function!” The president seems to agree.

—Diego Vallejo

Here’s a look at the Jefferson Hotel’s event spaces, beginning with the Parlor Boardroom, which was the setting for the president’s dinner with the senators.

[portfolio_slideshow exclude=”5598,5588″ size=”full”]

  • RELATED POSTS
  • EDITORS PICKS
  • Proposed Hyatt Hotel near Kansas City Convention Center

    Kansas City Closes in on Convention Center Hotel

    Kansas City, which has been losing business as a key convention destination because it currently lacks a large convention center hotel…

    luxury-hotel-perks

    How to Get Premium Perks from Luxury Hotels

    From fancy chocolates to designer handbags, upscale hotels offer premium perks for a select number of guests. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, there are a number of ways to increase your chances of…

    save-water

    Top Hotels Reduce Water Consumption

      In recent months, the California drought has become the most pressing statewide issue. However, water scarcity has long been a global crisis. Now, thanks to the International Tourism Partnership, hotels are stepping up to reduce water…

    Legendary Hotels, Plaza Hotel New York City

    8 Legendary Hotels Around the World

    These legendary hotels are scattered around the globe, in such places as New York City, Paris and Hong Kong, and have set the standard for luxury and hospitality. But they’re also among the world’s most famous structures,…

    Opus One Winery in Napa California

    Hotels Embrace Modular Construction for New Projects

    Whether it’s high quality bathroom pods or entirely pre-fabricated guest rooms, hotels are incorporating more modular construction in new projects. Hotel News Now reports that modular construction could be a game-changer that redefines future hotel development. Dave Walsh,…

  • tech tools

    Website Builder Perfect for Meeting Professionals

    Designing a website specifically for your next major meeting has never been easier following the launch of an event website builder by Bizzabo this week. The recent addition to Bizzabo's event management platform allows meeting professionals to…

    Mexico is Top Travel Destination

    Mexico, Canada Top List of Popular Travel Destinations

    Mexico and Canada are the most popular international travel destinations among Americans this year, followed by three European countries. Neighboring Mexico has long been a favorite destination partly due to its warm weather and outstanding beaches. Excellence…

    Critical Airport Security

    Cyber Security Critical on Vacation and Trips

    With Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer, we’d like to remind you that hackers and scammers don’t take vacation. Whether you’re vacationing or taking a business trip, traveling by car or by plane, make sure…

    mobile even -app

    Target Mobile Apps for Big and Small Events

    Although mobile event apps can save planners big money on printing costs, there are drawbacks: they tend to be costly; there is ordinarily a four-to-six week development timeline; and since mobile apps are largely a disposable technology,…

    convention center expansion

    San Francisco Convention Center Expansion Underway

    Moscone Center, conveniently located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, is undergoing a $500 million expansion that will create more than 500,000 sq. ft. of contiguous space for exhibitions and meetings. Expected to be complete in…