Beijing hotel workers already 'fed up' with Obama entourage in 3400-square-foot, $8,350-per-night suite inconveniencing 'pretty much everyone' -- and the first lady's mother is 'barking at the staff' | Mail Online

By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

PUBLISHED: 16:12 EST, 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 09:02 EST, 22 March 2014




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Michelle Obama and three of her family members are staying in a $8,350-per-night Beijing presidential suite, but despite a 24-hour butler and other perks that come with the lodging, her entourage has inconvenienced 'pretty much everyone' and made the hotel staff 'fed up,' a well-placed hotel staffer has told MailOnline.

The sumptuous pad at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang hotel – its website calls the room 'an oasis of comfort – is a 3,400-square-foot masterpiece including a private steam room, 'corner sofas with silk pillows,' and in-room dining for six.

But the Obamas' stay has already affected staff and guests at the hotel, with the Westin front-desk veteran alleging that Mrs. Obama's mother Marian Robinson has been 'barking at the staff since she arrived.'

First lady Michelle Obama, her mother Marian Robinson, and her daughters Sasha and Malia are in Beijing for the beginning of a week-long tour, and their hotel's staff are already tired of them

A senior hotel staffer said Marian Robinson (L), Mrs. Obama's mother, has been 'barking at the staff since she arrived at the hotel

Can you spot the Secret Service? Many of the agents in Mrs. Obama's detail are Asian-American, helping them avoid standing out while they protect the first lady -- but confusing some hotel guests who don't understand why they can't board some elevators

Government security forces from both China and the U.S. started Thursday to screen everyone who entered the building, including paying guests, setting up checkpoints that resemble those at airline concourse entrances.

The Secret Service's monopoly on the hotel's highest floors has meant the Westin had to boot guests with previous reservations out of their executive-level rooms.

Secret Service agents are also monopolizing hotel elevators long before the Obamas need them, added the staffer, who identified himself as a member of the concierge staff and spoke English during a phone call on Friday.

'Many of them are Asian, too, or Americans who are Asian, so you know our guests don't understand.'


'We can't wait for this to be over, to tell you the truth,' he said in a sudden hush. 'We entertain many important people here, but this has been, I think, very different.'

A spokesperson for Mrs. Obama declined to comment.

The Westin Beijing Chaoyang's 'oasis' presidential suite isn't the only part of the hotel that the Obama's have monopolized: Their Secret Service contingent has allegedly bumped some high-paying guests from their rooms

A U.S. Secret Service spokesperson promised answers to MailOnline's questions but didn't provide any in time for publication. The agency generally does not speak publicly about security arrangements for the officials it protects.

A spokesman for Starwood Hotels, which owns the Westin chain, referred questions to Secret Service.

Ordinary Chinese who have met the American first lady have described her in media reports as approachable and friendly, and the hotel staffer agreed.

'The first lady is gracious, and the girls are lovely,' he said.

The Westin employee and another colleague said Sasha and Malia Obama have been on their best behavior because Mrs. Robinson has kept them on a short leash.

They emphasized that they have had a disappointing experience with the protection detail that accompanies Mrs. Obama everywhere.

Wealthy hotel guests bumped from their reserved rooms into other less-luxurious accommodations have inundated the front desk with complaints.

As a condition of the first lady staying at the Westin, the Secret Service blocked off all the rooms near the presidential suite..

The Washington Times reported Thursday that an entourage of about 70 people is accompanying the guests of honor to China at taxpayer expense.

On Board: Travels with the First Lady in China

More guards than guarded? The two first ladies (front) strolled through Beijing's Forbidden City with their protection details close at hand

Blending in: The Secret Service detail guarding Mrs. Obama and her family members includes Asian-American agents like this man

'Mrs. Diplomat': Chinese President Xi Jinping joined in Friday for events that were supposed to include just Mrs. Obama and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan. The White House has insisted that the trip is a cultural exchange and not a political mission, however.

Delightful: Ordinary Chinese have described Mrs. Obama as a wonderful visitor, but her mother (at C) is allegedly causing hotel staff headaches

The White House has taken pains to frame Mrs. Obama's trip as a cultural journey rather than a political one, but taxpayers are paying through the nose for it nonetheless.

China News Service described the first lady on Friday as 'Mrs Diplomatic,' and the Xinhua news agency dubbed the trip 'an unprecedented and historical moment in the chapter of China–U.S. relations.'

The trip won't come cheap.

Judicial Watch, a watchdog group in Washington, D.C., reports that it cost more than $11 million for President and Mrs. Obama to travel to Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial service in December.

The first couple were in Africa for less than 13 hours.

The Obamas' 2013 visit to Africa, a longer affair, reportedly cost Americans more than $100 million.

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