News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Joanna Weiss, The Boston Globe
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 12, 2003 - When delegates from the great state of Texas, home to President Bush, arrive for next summer's Democratic National Convention, they won't be staying at any swanky downtown hotel. They'll be at the Hilton Logan Airport. And while big cheese delegations like New York and California are settling into digs around Back Bay, Montana's will be bedding down in Northeastern University dormitories.
"We're a small delegation. We're from the West. We're used to camping out," said Bob Ream, the chairman of the Montana Democratic Party, which requested the dorms for economic reasons. "In fact, I thought I'd pitch a tent on the Boston Common."
Convention hotel assignments are a time-honored way of signaling delegations' place in the pecking order. But this year's Democratic convention organizers, who released the long-awaited list yesterday, announced proudly that everyone will stay within 3 1/2 miles of the FleetCenter. That's an improvement, they say, from the Democratic shindig in Los Angeles four years ago, when some delegates were stuck 17.6 miles from the convention site.
Despite the hand-wringing about Boston's hotel space during the mammoth political event and fears that some delegates might wind up toting their luggage past Interstate 495, it turns out there's a fair degree of parity in the state delegations' hotel assignments. No one's staying at the Ritz; nobody's at the Motel 6 in Danvers, either.
And most states, organizers say, were awarded their first-, second-, or third-choice hotels.
Still, not everyone had equal claim to happiness yesterday. Let's put it this way: The Massachusetts delegation got its first choice, the Fairmont Copley Plaza. The airport Hilton was nowhere on Texas's list.
Convention leaders insist that politics played no part in the decisions. Assignments were based largely on the size of delegations, said Lina Garcia, spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention. And the Texas contingent, she said -- well, it's big.
The airport Hilton "was the only hotel that we could give them without bumping four or five other delegations," she said. For the Montana delegation, the Northeastern dorm rooms have some selling points. Members won't be near the students, said university spokesman Ed Klotzbier; they'll be at the university's new apartment-style residences at Davenport Commons and West Village, equipped with kitchens, close to the Museum of Fine Arts, and, if delegates take the Orange Line, a direct route by T to the FleetCenter. They're also priced considerably below market, compared to many big hotels: $80 for a one-person unit, $230 for a four-person unit. And since delegates have to pay their own way, cost was a giant factor, Ream said.
There were still some haves and have-nots, as accommodations go. Massachusetts, California, and Florida are near the chichi shopping hub of Copley Square. Pennsylvania, a key swing state, drew the Omni Parker House, a half-mile from the convention site. New York is a short distance away at the Park Plaza. Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, which requested to be placed together, aren't far. But their hotel, the Radisson Boston, is a little farther from the Freedom Trail, a little closer to the former Combat Zone.
Some of the more unusual assignments, Garcia said, came at delegations' requests. The group from Puerto Rico planned on hosting private parties, she said, and wanted a hotel far from most delegates "so that they wouldn't disturb the others." They're at the Inn at Harvard Square, and you're probably not invited.
Money will probably be less of an object for the party's nominee, whose hotel assignment has yet to be made. Rest assured, Garcia said: This one will be big, given demands for staff and Secret Service.
The location probably won't be shabby, either. If anyone else is unhappy with his or her lot -- or too weak, after a long day of hobnobbing, to trek back to Cambridge or through the Callahan Tunnel -- there's always the state Republican Party headquarters. It's two blocks from the FleetCenter on Merrimack Street. And executive director Dominick Ianno hasn't ruled out making a deal.
"Our office is closer to the FleetCenter than any of their hotels," he said. "We might rent out an office or two. We'll put up cots."
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(c) 2003, The Boston Globe. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.