By BETH J. HARPAZ, AP Travel Editor
NEW YORK (AP) — Hotels are getting in on royal wedding mania, offering $50,000 packages fit for a queen, handing out condoms decorated with the Union Jack and hosting Champagne parties where the wedding will be shown on big-screen TVs.
New York’s Moxy Times Square hotel is including condoms with a Union Jack logo as part of an overnight stay that also features a travel-sized bottle of gin and a British slang dictionary.
Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel is asking guests to wear hats, gloves and other finery to a $150 Champagne breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m., New York time, on May 19. The best-dressed attendee will win a prize of a free night at the hotel. The wedding will be livestreamed in the Plaza’s Palm Court on big-screen TVs as it unfolds live midday in England at Windsor Castle. A panel of experts at the Plaza will provide play-by-play commentary on etiquette, the royal family and whatever else needs explicating on this side of the pond.
The Plaza even has a legitimate connection to Markle. In her former life as an actress, she portrayed Rachel Zane on the cable show “Suits.” Her character dreamed of getting married at the Plaza, though the wedding scene for the show was actually filmed at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. The Fairmont Royal York also plans festivities for May 19 with a menu that includes classic British fare like bubble and squeak (cabbage and potatoes) and bangers (sausages) and eggs.
Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans has a wedding package priced at $51,918. (The numbers match the May 19 date of Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry.) The package includes three nights in a two-bedroom suite, round-trip first-class airfare from anywhere in the U.S., life-size cardboard cutouts of Harry and Meghan, afternoon tea, a wedding day Champagne breakfast, take-home gifts like Wedgwood china and crystal stemware, food and shopping credits worth thousands of dollars and a lemon elderflower cake, just like the one chosen by the happy couple.
And that’s not the only hotel package with a sky-high price tag. The Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills in California is offering a $30,000 “royal treatment package,” while the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., has a $1 million package if you want to hold your own wedding there that includes a private jet, custom-made gown and ring, honeymoon and more.
Whether anybody books these high-priced packages, the wedding gives hotels an opportunity to associate their brand with something special.
“Royal weddings occur on only a few occasions during a lifetime,” said Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University in New York. “They are therefore a rare opportunity for brands to reach large global audiences and for consumers to be a part of a rare event. So, to do so, the price of participation will always be very, very high.”
The Drake hotel in Chicago will host a royal-themed luncheon on May 19 with the same menu served in 1996 when Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, stayed there. Guests can even book the suite Diana stayed in, which has been decorated with photos of her. The Drake is also offering special royal teas, cocktails and a series of screenings of royal-themed movies like “Victoria & Abdul.”
In England, the Conrad London St. James has a “Propose Like A Prince” package with a horse carriage ride, Champagne and a room decorated with rose petals. And Mercure Hotels invited couples who share Harry and Meghan’s first names to apply for a free stay at one of Mercure’s London properties, and two couples won.
Royal-watchers heading to England will find it nearly impossible to book a room in Windsor, though hotels in London and elsewhere are still available. London’s Hotel Cafe Royal has a package that includes a luxury limo trip to Windsor Castle with a picnic hamper. Just don’t try to picnic there on May 19.
By BETH J. HARPAZ, AP Travel Editor