Because this is Cook’s first inauguration, he’s sought advice from security veterans at other Marriott hotels in the city. Their biggest piece of advice: Have a plan, but keep it flexible. Be prepared to adapt as new information becomes available. If the President decides to come to an event at the last minute, the hotel has to be ready for the security sweeps and bomb-sniffing dogs that come with that.
Another good piece of advice: Keep guests and partygoers hydrated. “We’ve had situations where people standing in line pass out,” he says. Cook plans to have plenty of refreshments on hand.
Part of the reason that the Wardman Park is able to host high-profile parties and guests—such as the Chinese president on a recent Washington visit or singer Dionne Warwick during the inauguration—is the hotel’s advanced security system. The all-digital surveillance system, for example, features exterior cameras that can see past Washington National Cathedral. The FBI has been known to solicit help from the hotel in surveying parts of the city that its equipment can’t see.
“We can watch motorcades as they’re approaching the hotel,” Cook says. “The system is extremely important because it gives us real-time information.”
Our favorite feature: the as-seen-in-the-movies red emergency phone. It gives the hotel an instantaneous connection to Marriott headquarters in Bethesda in the event of an emergency.
For partygoers at any inaugural event, Cook says be prepared for security lines: “Security is paramount. There can be no compromise. Guests should be prepared for what we’re planning for them and know in advance that it’s all for their best interest.”
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