The Best Holiday Taxpayers Can’t Afford

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Michelle Obama runs up $242,500 hotel bill on Cambodia trip

When First Lady Michelle Obama travels, price is literally no object – so says the terms of a government contract released late last month concerning her hotel stay during a two-day trip to Cambodia to promote a girls education initiative in the Far East country.

The cost of the 85 rooms booked at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort for herself and her entourage – a cool $242,500 dollars – a cost that was justified as an “unusual and compelling urgency” to facilitate Michelle’s (apparently last minute) trip.

What’s more, the cost of staying at the hotel was subjected to a “justification and approval” test for the visit – an administrative step that received a rubber stamp from contracting officers at the Department of State.

Among the 85 single rooms at the luxury five-star hotel were five office suites, five sleeping suites and one conference room for a full 14 nights even though Michelle Obama stayed at the resort for just two days. According to Accor, the French hotel operator that manages the hotel:

“The Siem Reap hotel, which elegantly combines Khmer and French architectural design, features landscaped gardens, [five] restaurants and bars, meeting facilities, a luxury spa and the largest free form swimming pool in Cambodia,”

“The leading luxury resort in Siem Reap also boosts a world-class 18-hole golf course at the Phokeethra Country Club, which is only a 25 [minute] drive from the hotel.”

Not to worry. The First Lady put the space to good use.

During her stay, Michelle held two public events and spoke for a total of 33 minutes including 21 minutes talking to a group of 10 female students at Hun Sen Bakorng High School and 12 minutes to the Peace Corps Training Round Table.

Mrs. Obama also took time to visit the Angkor Wat temple complex and a meet and greet with U.S Embassy employees in Cambodia. The State Department said they awarded the contract on short notice and that security for the First Lady was an important factor in the cost.

“Security concerns prohibit sufficient advanced notification of VIP travel to allow for sufficient time to conduct full and open competition…” “The Department of State can only communicate with the staff at Posts abroad when authorization is given due to security concerns.

“Security and logistical teams make determinations during the site survey as to which hotels are most suitable for the Senior High Level USG VIP and his traveling staff to remain overnight…”

Suites at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra also came with personal butler service.