The World Economic Forum's annual gathering of business executives, politicians, and other luminaries in Davos, Switzerland, which starts this week, is famous for its arresting scenery, lavish parties, high-powered networking, and earnest meditation on global affairs. Apparently, these perks don't come cheap.

As Andrew Ross Sorkin discovers at The New York Times, accepting an invitation to Davos is an incredibly expensive decision.

Sorkin attempts to figure out just how expensive it is. He learns from interviews with business executives that you can't even be invited to Davos unless you're a member of the World Economic Forum. When you factor in annual membership fees (which also cover other WEF events and research) and the price of admission to Davos, it costs $71,000 for one person to attend the five-day conference without VIP treatment. A company that wants to send five delegates with access to private sessions, special conference rooms, and door-do-door car service must shell out $622,000.

Sorkin adds that these figures don't include the costs of travel or hosting dinners and cocktail parties for clients:

A first-class fare from New York to Zurich is running at about $11,000. But a private plane using NetJets will cost about $70,000 round trip ... Helicopter service from Zurich to Davos? $3,400 each way. (The forum provides a free bus service for those worried about their environmental footprint.) ...

At the Posthotel ... the restaurant is charging a minimum of $210 a head ... The bigger parties, like one that will be given by Google on Friday night for several hundred people, can run more than $250,000 for the evening. (In years past, Google has flown in the band and bartenders; one year, the company had an oxygen bar.)