Anti-trump ho­tel to open in Wash­ing­ton

Mint ST - - POLITICS - BY NIKKI EK­STEIN feed­back@livemint.com NEW YORK

The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Eaton Work­shop, a ho­tel open­ing in late spring 2018 in Wash­ing­ton, is a cus­tom-com­mis­sioned video art in­stal­la­tion by A.J. Sch­nack, shown on a se­ries of vin­tagestyle tele­vi­sion screens. All day long, it’ll broad­cast a mon­tage of footage from the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions of 2012 and 2016 that’s built around one pointed ques­tion: How did our coun­try get where it is today?

It’s not a sub­tle state­ment, and it’s not meant to be.

In Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, Eaton is plant­ing a clear flag as a haven for Democrats. It’s the world’s first po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated ho­tel, the flag­ship for a global brand that’s built around so­cial ac­tivism and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment. And it comes with a pedi­gree: As the daugh­ter of Ka Shui Lo, the cre­ator and ex­ec­u­tive chairen­tirely man of Hong Kong-based Lang­ham Hos­pi­tal­ity Group Ltd, founder Kather­ine Lo knows a thing or two about lux­ury ho­tels and world-class ser­vice.

Lo firmly be­lieves that ho­tels ought to be cat­a­lysts for good. In a world where we can be con­scious con­sumers ev­ery­thing—from cloth­ing to food to baby prod­ucts—she ar­gues there’s a place for con­scious ho­tels, too. This isn’t a rev­o­lu­tion­ary idea: Al­ready, 1 Ho­tels has built a small col­lec­tion of lux­ury prop­er­ties around the idea of sus­tain­abil­ity, and Shangri-la Ho­tels & Re­sorts has made a sig­nif­i­cant, brand-wide com­mit­ment to bol­ster com­mu­nity pro­gram­ming for dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in all of its des­ti­na­tions. It’s one of many five-star brands that have a con­scious ethos but choose not to flaunt it.

The Wash­ing­ton ho­tel— which has 209 rooms just north of the Na­tional Mall— will be the brand’s flag­ship, with a sec­ond lo­ca­tion open­ing in Hong Kong in 2018 and new con­struc­tions set to rise in San Fran­cisco and Seat­tle no sooner than 2019.

Among the Wash­ing­ton lo­ca­tion’s pro­gram­ming sig­na­tures will be a sort of TED talk se­ries driven by the lib­eral agenda, con­sist­ing of fire­side chats and rooftop lec­tures that Lo hopes will be free, open to the pub­lic, and stream­able as Eaton-branded pod­casts. Then comes the art pro­gramme, which—aside from the po­lit­i­cal state­ment piece at check-in—will in­clude com­mis­sions from at least a half­dozen up-and-com­ing lo­cal artists and a street-fac­ing ex­hi­bi­tion win­dow cu­rated in part­ner­ship with lo­cal mu­se­ums and in­sti­tu­tions. A co-work­ing space will pri­or­i­tize mem­ber­ships for progressive start-ups, ac­tivists, and artists, while a wellness pro­gramme will of­fer “in­ner-health-fo­cused treat­ments” such as Reiki and sound baths, rather than fa­cials and mas­sages. (Some of these fea­tures will roll out a few months af­ter the ho­tel opens.)

A guest who does noth­ing other than check in, sleep atop Eaton’s or­ganic mat­tresses, and check out will still have a sense of the ho­tel’s mis­sion, says Lo. “We plan to have new ideas in the mini­bar—an ac­tivist toolkit, for ex­am­ple, that in­cludes sheets with in­for­ma­tion to help you call your con­gress­peo­ple. And if we’d been open dur­ing this year’s women’s march, I could have seen us putting poster boards and mark­ers in the rooms!”

BLOOMBERG

REUTERS

Don­ald Trump.

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