Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Presidential treatmentWashington's Ritz Carlton is set to...


Presidential treatment

Washington's Ritz Carlton is set to open its brand-new doors next month and to take reservations for its four-night Presidential Package offered during Inaugural 2001.

The opulent getaway for well-heeled partygoers begins on the guests' front steps when a personal butler shows up to pack their belongings into a complimentary set of $20,000 Louis Vuitton luggage and ship them to the hotel. Out-of-town guests then board a private jet and fly to Washington, where an on-call chauffeur will whisk them to the hotel (local residents get limo service).

Once there, guests can don the Hermes tie or scarf that comes with the room. (A new tie or scarf will arrive at guests' homes each month until the next presidential inauguration.)

In addition to the neckwear, the package comes with a lifetime membership for two at Washington's Sports Club/LA country club, which will supply a personal massage therapist to inaugural guests during their January stay.

Two tickets to the inaugural ball, VIP seating at the inaugural parade and a catered party for 25 in your suite or private dining room are a few of the assorted other perks thrown in.

What will this little soiree run you? Only $150,000. For information or to book the package, call the hotel at 202-835-0500.

No one starved at Midas feast

The University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia is about to display the 2,700-year-old remains of the funeral feast for King Midas, the guy with the golden touch.

Legend has it that the king nearly starved to death because his food kept turning to gold, but chemical analysis of organic matter found inside Midas' tomb in Turkey shows that those who mourned his passing had no such trouble. Apparently they supped on spicy lamb and lentil stew and then washed it down with a concoction of grape wine, barley beer and honey mead.

The exhibition will recount the story of the ancient menu and its discovery and features some of the actual leftovers, which the Museum Catering Co. is prepared to recreate for your dinner party if you're so inclined.

The King Midas exhibition opens Sept. 26 and runs through Dec. 31. The museum can be reached at 215-898-4000 or found online at www.upenn.edu/museum.

Steer for California

If California's open roads are calling you now that cooler weather's sweeping into the east, you can get help mapping a course from "California Driving Tours," a new guide that features 24 driving itineraries.

Among the routes listed are cruises through wine country, the redwood empire, the peaks and valleys of the state's southern tip and the Old West. A traveler's almanac, tour maps and a family fun page, which details things to do with the whole gang, complete the free 48-page guide, which can be ordered online at www.visitcalifornia.com or by calling 800-462-2543.

A world full of wonders

UNESCO's World Heritage Center, an organization dedicated to preserving the world's natural and cultural phenomena, and the New 7 Wonders project have decided it's time for a new list of the world's greatest treasures. The organizations have created an online popularity contest that will determine seven new wonders of the world from votes submitted by people from all over the globe. Americans have until Sept. 30 to select their favorite picks from a list of 25 that includes the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Statue of Liberty.

The initiative was developed to enhance the public's awareness of historic landmark preservation. You can cast your vote at www.new7wonders.com. Winners will be announced next spring.

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