Turning hotel rooms into secured offices for the high-powered

HOUSTON — To oil company executives and foreign ministers more accustomed to mahogany-enveloped surroundings, the temporary hotel rooms-turned-executive offices at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston may not look like much.

Tablecloth-covered tables are pushed up against wall-mounted headboards instead of beds. In some cases, power lines and mobile phone chargers snake across the room. In at least one makeshift office reporters visited this week, a trash can was overflowing.

But for the C-suiters presenting at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference, the rooms have been transformed from sanctuaries for a good night’s sleep into well-equipped spaces for a hard day’s work. The plush beds have been hauled out to a storage room. Guards and handlers stand outside to keep hallways secure from wanderers. The suites are far from the conference’s main events, where police and their dogs have been patrolling.

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Conference organizers and attendees have booked every room in the 24-floor hotel for the weeklong event, which attracts some of the biggest executives and policymakers in oil, natural gas and power.

In total, more than 2,800 people are attending CERAWeek, according to IHS, a global research and analysis firm headquartered in Colorado.

Many executives use the converted hotel rooms for one-on-one interviews with the dozens of reporters covering the annual summit, as aides outside usher the journalists in.

Is there dealmaking too? A little, said one company representative. But really, it’s all about efficiency while the conference is under way. Aides use the converted hotel rooms to decamp, stash presentation materials and charge their mobile devices.

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Companies pay the Hilton for the suites, and generally, they have the option of keeping residential space and beds along with the office setup. The entire hotel is booked by conference organizers and attendees.

The temporary quarters range from small barely converted rooms on the sixth floor to more palatial surroundings on double-digit levels with food service and sweeping views of downtown Houston.

But there are other options, too. Sponsors of the CERAWeek conference get access to meeting areas on the third floor. This year, the space has been expanded with additional seating and meeting areas.


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