MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama is just under two months away, and it's big business here in Washington. One of the city's luxury hotels has showcased what it is offering the rich and powerful who come to stay. NPR's Libby Lewis dropped in at the Ritz-Carlton's Inaugural Trade Show.
LIBBY LEWIS: Walk down the grand stairs of the Ritz and follow the music into a side room, you know you're in terra inaugural. Luscious smells, check. Diamonds and tux, check. Dogs, dogs? Stephanie Weber is holding a leash with an itsy bitsy dog at the end of it. She's with the Washington Animal Rescue League.
Ms. STEPHANIE WEBER (Washington Animal Rescue League): We have three of our dogs here today. One of them is a Chinese crested. Her name is Annoro. And that's one of the dogs that has been suggested for the Obamas as a pet because Chinese cresteds are pretty much hairless. So that would help with Malia's allergies.
LEWIS: The hotel is donating money to the Washington Animal Rescue League as part of this event. On a table are some sweets prepared by students at the D.C. Central Kitchen, that's the community kitchen and job trainer of some of D.C.'s down and out. The Ritz is definitely going for a mix here. I asked the hotel's Vivian Deuschl about the hotel's inaugural packages.
Ms. VIVIAN DEUSHCL (Ritz-Carlton Hotel): There's one for $99,000 at Georgetown, but that also includes a trip to Grand Cayman to recover.
LEWIS: She says nobody expects anybody to buy that one, but she says two people are vying for the politically correct packages at $50,000 each.
Ms. MICHEL: Everybody else decided they were going to go the 150,000 route, but we decided we were going to read the tea leaves. Everything is very organic, there's an opportunity to take part in a community event to help feed the homeless, which is part of this hotel's whole background and history.
LEWIS: Patti Harris-Tubbs is here from the Italian Fiesta Pizzeria in Chicago. Tubbs's sister introduced herself to Michelle Obama at a campaign event this summer.
Ms. PATTI HARRIS-TUBBS (Italian Fiesta Pizzeria): And Michelle was very excited and said, this is my favorite pizza. I grew up on it. It was my reward for getting good grades when I was in school.
LEWIS: At one table are the sweets the Ritz is offering its guests who stay at the hotel during the inauguration. The D.C. Central Kitchen prepared some of them, side by side with the Ritz chefs, David Serus and Jerome Girardot.
Mr. JEROME GIRARDOT (Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel): So, those are the cookies. It's Michelle Obama's shortbread cookies. So, there are shortbread flavored with citrus, orange and lemon, amaretto, and they're topped with candied orange, candied lemon and pistachios.
LEWIS: Outside, the hotel is showing what it's calling the preferable methods of transportation to the inauguration. They are a Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and a Smart Car. Local poet Ayesha Striggles(ph) is here. She relishes the change she senses in the inauguration, and the days ahead.
Ms. AYESHA STRIGGLES (Poet, D.C.): That's what makes the universe in harmony, is change. Nothing stays the same, you can't grow. You'd have too much conflict doing the same thing all the time. Wouldn't it be boring?
(Soundbite of laughter)
LEWIS: Yes, it would. Libby Lewis, NPR News Washington.
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