President Obama Changes Hotels Amid Espionage Concerns
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New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel is a favorite property among world leaders and celebrities. Everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to JK Rowling and Madonna have laid their heads on the beds in the hotel, and the well-known property has hosted every president since Herbert Hoover. The President of the United States has also historically stayed there during the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Why so popular?
Excellent physical security is one of the main reasons. The 1,232 room property has a total of 27 private and public elevators which allow security guards to be posted in front of rooms, floors, and in the lobby. There are also several different suite types that allow folks traveling together to have separate rooms but equally strong security.
The property also has a secret underground train platform that was originally used to transport freight from nearby Grand Central Terminal. It was turned into an underground station to allow Presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt to enter the hotel undetected by the public. There was reportedly even a large elevator at one point, big enough to hold his bulletproof vehicle.
The Presidential suite on the 34th floor has the special distinction of featuring furniture donated over the years by previous presidents such as a rocking chair gifted by JFK.
Back in February though, Hilton Worldwide closed on the sale of the property to Chinese insurance company Anbang Insurance Group Co. The Chinese company reportedly put down a $100 million cash deposit, and the 1.95 Billion dollar deal also included the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando in Orlando, The Reach, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Key West, the Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria resort in Key West and Parc 55 in San Francisco.
During renovation of New York’s Waldorf Astoria, US Intelligence officials expressed their concern that the Chinese might install eavesdropping equipment similar to what is already in place in some properties in China. Because of the espionage concerns, President Obama will be staying at a different hotel this month than the usual New York Waldorf Astoria. He is reportedly in New York today, and being put up at the New York Lotte Palace Hotel instead.
The 5,000 square foot Presidential suite at the the New York Palace looks pretty swank too with three floors, panoramic views and outdoor terrace.
The hotel has no doubt been given the thumbs up by his security detail, and he can now focus his attention on more important matters.
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