A little too much excitement at APSA this year.  Those of us in the central tower of the Marriott Wardman Park hotel were evacuated from the hotel at 1 am thanks to series of suspicious fires set in the stairwell at the hotel. As I was leaving my room there was smoke coming in the hallway.

We were kept outside until after 3 am, when they moved us into the lobby. Some slept on the floor. Eventually they gathered us in an overcrowded ballroom until they swept the hotel thoroughly looking for possible arsonists  We were allowed to return to our rooms at about 8 am.

The DC Fire Department and DC Police Department did an excellent job keeping us safe. Fortunately no one was hurt.  I was much less impressed with the management of the Marriott.  The evacuation was difficult. We had to evacuate in part through areas with no lighting.  There was virtually no communication from the hotel’s management for hours as we were kept outside.  Then we were given contradictory information. They were slow to react and did not seem to have a good disaster planning in place. Unfortunately, having attended too many APSA and AALS meetings at the hotel, this met my expectations of this hotel. Next time I’ll stay at the excellent Omni Shoreham.

It was certainly inconvenient to have stayed up all night and then had to moderate the Bauer-Ginsberg election reform panel a few hours later. But in the scheme of life it could have been a heck of a lot worse.

UPDATE: More from Julia Azari. And Julie adds the important point that the cleaning and service staff were excellent. The problem was one of planning and management.

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