Her Summer Vacation

Gary McCoy

Britain’s Daily Mail:

Michelle Obama today faced a fresh wave of attacks over her lavish break in Spain with 40 friends, which could easily cost U.S. taxpayers a staggering £50,000 a day.

The First Lady has been lambasted for her extravagance at a time when the economy is still struggling. One blogger went so far as to brand her a modern-day Marie Antoinette.

And her critics will be further annoyed when they learn that the president’s wife had a Spanish beach closed off today so that she, her daughter and their entourage could go for a swim.

Spanish police cleared off a stretch of beach at the Villa Padierna Hotel in Marbella after the Obamas had finished a busy day of sightseeing.

Police used palm trees and police tape to mark off the boundaries of a 100-yard expanse for the American delegation. On either side, onlookers gawked – and police occasionally stopped and searched sun lovers if they strayed too close to the private party.

It is unclear whether the police presence was paid for by Spain – or whether a nasty invoice could be landing in the lap of the American taxpayer.

The exact cost of the trip is unclear as Mrs Obama, 46, and her friends are footing personal expenses themselves – which is just as well.

For a start, they will be paying for the 60 rooms booked at the 129-room Hotel Villa Padierna. With basic rooms starting around £380 each, the nightly bill will be no less than £22,800.
Michelle Obama

Meals will also be picked up by the Obamas and friends.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo detailed the Obamas’ dinner on their first night in Spain. The tapas menu for the delegation included sea bass tartare, strawberry gazpacho and sardines, followed by a main course of lobster with seaweed risotto.

The meal cost about £40 a head, according to El Mundo – which means a bill topping £1,600 would have hit the table if all 40 friends dined together.

Stretched over five nights that’s £8,000 for dinner alone.

Whether or not the taxpaying American will be paying for meals, they will definitely be footing the bill for the First Lady’s 68-strong security detail, her personal staff – and the use of presidential jet Air Force Two.

The per diems for the secret service team runs at around £172 each, which amounts to nearly £60,000 for the length of the summer break.

Use of Air Force Two, the Air Force version of a 757, comes in at £91,900 for the round trip. This does not include time on the ground.

Mrs Obama’s personal staff, of which there are an unknown amount and who might cost considerably more per day, also have to be taken into account.

The American public will also cover the cost of the only official part of the holiday, a visit to the Spanish royal family on the island of Majorca.

This will involve transport there and back for the entourage – as well as travel, accommodation, food and expenses for all while on the island.

Conservative estimates already put the total cost at £150,000. With Majorca to come, the bill will be more like £250,000.

Back in the U.S., anger was mounting – especially as it has emerged the First Lady will have enjoyed eight holidays by the end of the summer…

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Comments

  • SUSAN MYERSON  On August 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think it would be appropriate for them to have back-packed in the woods with pb&j sandwiches – don’t you? Just like all their predecessors.

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