Hotel Watch: Trump Hotel Set for September Open

by John Arundel

Donald Trump gives tour of the Trump International Hotel.

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Photo by John Arundel

If Donald Trump fails to make The White House his principal new residence after the Presidential election, he wouldn’t be doing too shabby as a guest at his own super-luxe hotel just a few blocks down at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The presumptive GOP nominee invited media for a preview and guided tour of the new Trump International Hotel, Washington DC, which he’s building from the skeleton of the Old Post Office Building next to City Hall.

The hotel is scheduled to open in September, and if it’s like the other highly-rated properties in Trump Hotel Collection, it could rival the very best in the city.

“We want to make this one of the great hotels in the world,” Trump said. “You will be proud of it, as people who love this country.”

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Photo by John Arundel

With $200 million in renovations underway to the historic building, progress has been swift towards opening Washington’s newest and biggest luxury hotel.

In another week or so, Trump said that the dusty concrete floors that hundreds of reporters were trodding upon would be covered in “marble from around the world.”

Given the historic status of the building and 4-feet-deep granite walls, Trump said that much of the structure could not be changed by the 1,000 construction workers carrying out the renovations.

“For instance the windows, which are landmarked; much of the building is landmarked. The walls going up are landmarked, the struts above your head, it’s all a very strong landmark situation,” Trump said.

By late Summer, the skeleton of steel beams, electrical wiring and protruding pipes will be replaced by 263 luxury rooms, several boutiques and concept restaurants like BLT Prime Steak and the “largest ballroom in the city.”

The Trump Organization broke ground on the hotel in July 2015 after securing a 60-year lease with the General Services Administration, with negotiations principally led by Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

She was quoted at the time as saying to GSA examiners that she hoped “one day my children’s grandchildren will be running this hotel.” Ivanka Trump could not make it for the tour, as “she’s preparing to have a baby any day,” Trump proudly proclaimed.

While Trump believes that his notoriety and campaign have given the project visibility, his campaign comments last Summer on Mexican immigrants have caused issues.

Last July, Think Food Group and its renowned chef Jose Andres canceled plans to open a Spanish restaurant inside the hotel, as did celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Trump is suing both chefs.

“We’re going to employ substantially more than 500 people, and we’re getting them largely from the area,” Trump said Monday.

Veteran Trump Hotels executive Mickael Damelincourt, who previously worked for Trump properties in Toronto and Chicago has been picked as the hotel’s managing director.

Damelincourt told reporters that pre-opening reservations have been brisk, with a clientele of mostly corporate clients agreeing to reserve at rates starting at $545 for the lowest-priced rooms.

The rack rate for the “Trump Townhouse” is $25,000 per night, which allows the most discerning guests a luxurious, 6,300-square-foot presidential styled suite. “We are at the five star level,” Damelincourt said.

Regardless of Trump’s political fortunes, it’s tough to imagine that his new hotel and its grand ballroom will not be at the centerpoint of so much happening in the city, from this Fall’s balls and galas season, to the final stretch of the 2016 campaign and the 2017 presidential inaugural festivities.

As Trump led a swarm of media through the dusty shell of the uncompleted ballroom, minor mayhem ensued, as cameramen jostled each other, and a few climbed onto stacks of drywall for a better shot of the candidate. A dense thicket of reporters surrounded him, peppering him with questions about his campaign.

“Well, if none of this [presidential campaign] works out,” Trump mused. “At least I’ve got this to come back to…and then I won’t have to deal any more with you people.”

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