Learn How to Pass a Law, on Vacation

Photo: Hotels Teach Guests New Skills

Does your ideal vacation include relaxing on a sunny beach, listening to the sounds of the ocean all day while doing absolutely nothing? Then the latest hotel package, being offered by Fairmont, isn't for you.

But if you want to spend your days off developing a new skill, then you're in luck. Fairmont recently rolled out 20 new apprenticeship programs at hotels around the world for vacationers who want to get away from it all, but still keep busy.

Video of the How to Pass a Bill in Washington package at the Fairmont Hotel.
Fairmont Hotel in Washington Offers How to Pass a Bill Package

Just as with apprenticeships of yesteryear, partakers in the new programs are grouped with masters of their crafts. But instead of laboring under the tutelage of a mentor for decades, a few quick lessons on falconry or aromachology (you know, the study of the influence of odors on behavior) are all you'll get before your leader throws you headfirst into a real learn-by-doing sort of experience. The vacation courses last anywhere from a day to a week.

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The Fairmont in Washington is offering visitors an insider's perspective on how the country's political machine operates. The concept: see how to turn an idea into law.

PHOTO:
Don't Lick the Walls at Hotel Made of Salt

I recently got to participate in this new apprenticeship and see first-hand how to navigate Washington's maze of politics, power and deal-making. The day started with Jason Pavluchuk, a Washington lobbyist with Government Relations, Inc., whom I met in the Fairmont D.C. lobby.

He explained plainly that I only need to accomplish three things to turn my ideas into laws: I need to get a majority of the House of Representatives to vote for them, a majority of the Senate to vote for them, and get the president to sign them.

Simple enough, right? Well … almost.

Changing the World, on Vacation

Contrary to public perception, "99 percent of what Congress deals with is not controversial," Pavluchuk told me. And quite often, bills that are passed originate from individuals like you or me who simply "had an idea."

The main stumbling block for people like us is actually getting access to our members of Congress. It can be next to impossible, Pavluchuk warned.

So instead, find out who on their staff handles a specific issue, and present your idea to them, he told me.

Tips for a successful presentation included being respectful, non-partisan, friendly, polite, prompt, concise, and most important, having the facts to back up your opinions. Also, make sure there are follow-up discussions. Congressional aides are busy people, after all, and they tend to be forgetful.

But once you get one staffer in your corner, often what you'll see is a domino effect, Pavluchuk said. That staffer will convince your congressman, and he or she will sell their colleagues on your idea before introducing it in the House.

So with that knowledge in hand, I headed over to the Capitol … unfortunately, alone.

You see, at this point, my Fairmont apprenticeship was technically over. Everything else on my schedule was simply recommendations: things to do or places to see by myself that are available to anyone who visits Washington, regardless of whether they stay at the Fairmont.

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