Hotels Toss Their Hats Into the Election-Year Ring

As the election gets closer, hotel and bars are offering voter specials.

Oct. 12, 2008 — -- From John McCain- and Barack Obama-themed cocktails to voter registration, hotels are hopping on the election bandwagon.

This year's hotly contested presidential race has spawned what looks like a record turnout of promotions, from cocktails and straw polls in bars to election-themed menus and room deals.

One of the more serious comes from quirky W Hotels, which has partnered with Declare Yourself, a national nonpartisan campaign that encourages voter registration. Guests can access Declare Yourself's registration aids online or via concierges.

More whimsical "Declare Yourself RED" or "Declare Yourself BLUE" packages are available at select hotels in the chain. Packages start at $399 a night (part of the proceeds goes to DeclareYourself). Guests get lodging, an elephant or donkey T-shirt, Democrat or Republican tote bag and two cocktails (the "Obama Pama," made with pomegranate liqueur, or the rum-based "10 Cane McCain"). For more information or to register to vote, visit

At a host of hotels, presidential-themed drinks are making a splash.

Offerings at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C., include the Palin "Pit Bull" (Bacardi Limón rum, cranberry juice and Red Bull energy drink). The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common has the "O'Bama … Irish Enough" quaff (a mix of Irish whiskey and other liquors). Erin Go Bragh: Obama boasts Irish forebears.

Kimpton Hotels nationwide are pouring creatively. The campaign cocktail roster at the bar at the TopazHotel in Washington, D.C., includes the "Double-Down Donkey" (citrus vodka, blue Curacao, sour mix and Champagne), "All-In Elephant" (rum, Amaretto, grenadine, lime, cranberry and orange juice), "Independent Player" (vodka and aloe juice) and "The Undecided Flight" (a bit of each).

Topaz Bar manager Joseph Norton says Democratic cocktails have been the biggest sellers.

In Denver, barflies at Panzano in Kimpton's Hotel Monaco are drinking more "Blue Bama" cocktails (53 percent) than "Right Wing Johnnys" (47 percent).

Election-themed Hotel Packages

Starting Nov. 2 at Kimpton's 70 Park Avenue Hotelin Manhattan, guests checking in can choose a complimentary Republican Red or Democrat Blue cocktail. Orders will be tallied and announced on election night.

Meanwhile, is anteing up for the election with a poll and vacation discounts. Book a Vegas visit for this year on its Web site by Nov. 4, name your choice for president and get $20 off when you spend $200 or more. As of Thursday morning at, Obama was leading with 45 percent of the "vote," McCain had 36 percent, followed by more obscure candidates.

KSL Resorts, whose seven U.S. lodgings have hosted past presidents, has come up with packages in which guests express political preference when making reservations. The Obama package includes two "blue martinis," a recreation discount and "Buy American" credit for resort purchases. The McCain option includes a bottle of "Red State" wine and a room-tax credit. Resorts include San Diego's Hotel del Coronado; The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.; and Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa in Colorado. Reservations must be made by Election Day; check-in must be by Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

Edibles also are material for pre-election hotel promos.

The PostScript Lounge at the capital's Loews Madison Hotel is refereeing an eat-off between McCain's beloved shrimp and Obama's declared favorite to prepare, chili. The winner will be determined by which dish produces the most orders through Nov. 4.

In the 1331 Bar & Lounge at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., every Tuesday through election night, guests can down election-themed potions or opt for partisan bites such as "Left Wings" with spicy Asian dipping sauce, "Right Wings" with Texas honey barbeque or "Undecide'r sliders."

Even hotels outside the USA are going into election mode.

At the Hotel Concorde La Fayette in Paris, chef Laurent Belijar is so intrigued by the campaign that he created special hamburgers.

The "O-Burger" is a tribute to Obama and his native city of Honolulu: curried burger loaf with pineapple carpaccio and a coriander-flavored shrimp. (Surely having French flair, it must taste better than it sounds.)

Elephant Burgers and Palin "Pit Bull" Drinks

The "Elephant Burger," a tomato-flavored beef concoction with grilled lamb and guacamole served with salsa and nachos, pays homage to McCain's adopted state of Arizona.

Other hotels also are making preparations for Election Day and beyond.

Guests who check in with their "I Voted" stickers get special rates as low as $69 Sunday through Thursday from Nov. 4-Jan. 31 at nine Moonstone Hotel Properties in California and Oregon.

Participating lodgings include the Monterey Hotel in Monterey, Calif.; Carmel River Inn in Carmel, Calif.; Apple Tree Inn in Yosemite, Calif.; and Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove, Ore.

The Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands has an "Absentee Ballot Special" ($145 a night for two) for stays between Nov. 1 to Nov. 5.

And those who desire to be absent from election overload can run away to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina and book its new "Politi-scape Package," now through January.

On arrival at the Cambridge, Md., resort, guests can check in cellphones or Blackberrys at the front desk and stay in a suite without TV or newspaper delivery. Instead, they'll get iPod Shuffles loaded with music and a fluffy robe to keep, a non-political book and board games.

The $2,008 package also includes a donation to a wildlife refuge, $40 toward breakfast and a $130 spa credit.

Who wouldn't vote for that?