I was recently at ILTM, which brings together many of the finest hotel groups from around the globe. At the occasion, I was able to discover Trump Hotels.
What is the history behind the brand?
Our first hotel in our portfolio was Trump Central Park in New York. It’s been open for 21 years now. I actually opened up this property 22 years ago, so I was part of the pre-opening team. I was 10 when I started. We’ve actually just completed a full renovation Trump Central Park with all of the guest rooms and hallways. We have the fantastic Jean-Georges who does all of our food and beverage for us at Central Park. He’s our only restaurant there, and he also does room service there, breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it really sets us apart. Very fortunate to have that. They’ve just completed a whole renovation. The hotel is the 3rd floor to the 17th floor, and then above that are private residences.
Abroad, we have Aberdeen and Turnberry and Doonbeg, but other than that, the rest of our properties are in the U.S.
We have different signature programs, like Trumpettes and Trump Kids.
Our next property is in Chicago. It’s a beautiful, iconic building in Chicago. Again, this is hotels and residences, with hotels on the lower part and residences on the top part. When you take up an entire city block, you don’t look out of any window and see a brick wall, which in a city, is quite difficult to be able to say that. So we’re very iconic with our locations, overlooking Central Park, overlooking a river.
We’ve actually just re-conceptualized our restaurant in Chicago, so we have a Terrace 16. Before we had a 2-Michelin star restaurant, but obviously we realized that it’s not really what our guests are looking for these days. They don’t want formal dining; they’re wanting a little more of a casual concept that they can go to on multiple nights versus making one special night to go there. We just changed that in July, so it was really great to be able to have that new concept to be able to introduce. We have the terrace that opens up from the restaurant, so you have the best of both worlds in the summertime, you can sit indoor or outdoor on the terrace. The great thing is that on a Wednesday evening, they have fireworks that go off from boats, so it’s good to get the best seats in the house.
Then we have our Las Vegas property. This is non-gaming and non-smoking, which obviously in Las Vegas is quite unique. It’s 1,200 rooms, which, again in Las Vegas, is a fairly boutique hotel, when you’ve got most of the other hotels which are very large. One thing I love about this property is, when I go to events in Las Vegas, I don’t want to have to walk for 20 minutes to get to my room and go through all that ‘ding-ding-ding’ of the slot machine. It feels like boutique. There are 20 rooms per floor, so you’re not walking down these long, long corridors. The pool area is very private and doesn’t turn into nightclubs. It’s great for families that want to go to Las Vegas as well as the rest of our leisure or business guests there.
D.C. is our newest property. Very iconic. If you see our other buildings, we have new buildings, skyscrapers, etc. Then we have this beautiful historic building, which used to be the old post office. They were actually going to rip it down as it was derelict for many years. We have a townhouse which used to be the Postmaster’s office that we now have available as a 2-bedroom suite with its own separate private entrance. Lots of signature suites. We have a BLT restaurant now. It’s the closest hotel to the White House, so it’s on Pennsylvania Avenue. The lobby is all glass ceiling, so it’s this very grand. All of the guest rooms are around the atrium, with beautiful views, some of them overlooking the monument. The wonderful part is, you still have access up to the clock tower, so you can access it and look straight down at the monument. The renovation that we did there—obviously it was a historic building, so you want to keep a lot of those elements. You can still see the original postbox and the original windows which were the post office windows. It really is a stunning property, very different to everything else that we have.
Then we go up to Vancouver. This is another skyscraper building with amazing views overlooking the river. It has a Mott 32 restaurant, the first to make it outside of China, so fantastic to have Mott 32. It’s smaller with 147 rooms. With all of our properties, it’s all about making that personalization and making our guests feel like they’re the only guest walking through that door, that they’re not just another name coming in. Those are our city hotels.
Then we can go into more of our resort hotels. We have our Trump Waikiki property, right in the middle of Waikiki, literally right across the street from the beach. It’s just had its 9-year anniversary, which is very exciting. It’s in the middle of all these shops and restaurants. It has 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom suites, so it’s fantastic for families. With a lot of our hotels, they do have full kitchens in them, so in New York, Chicago, Waikiki, and also in Las Vegas, they have full kitchens. A lot of families like to have that available to them. And even me, I have to say, as a traveler, we spend so much time on the road, so I like to be able to make myself tea, coffee or juice in the morning. It’s really great to be able to have our kitchen. We have our attaché guest services, and they can stock your fridges for you prior to your arrival. You just send them a grocery list, and we stock that for them.
We have 9 hotels, but we also have 2 in our Estate Collection. This is our Trump Winery. It’s much smaller; it’s only 10 rooms. This was the Albemarle Estate before, a family-run estate. We bought it and turned it into our Trump winery. We have a sparkling, a red, and a white, which are really delicious. I love to go down there in the fall because you get to see all the foliage. It looks like it belongs in the countryside of England.
Then we go into our golf resorts. We’re definitely known for our beautiful golf resorts. We took over Trump Doral about 5 years ago and did a complete renovation of all of the guest rooms and all of the golf courses. It’s quite large, with 643 rooms. It actually consists of villas, and then within the villas are the guest rooms. The villas are obviously named after all of the great golf icons of this world. We have the Tiger Woods Villa, and so on. We have a BLT restaurant there.
Then we go up Ireland, and we have our Doonbeg property. That’s another absolutely stunning golf course. Then we go up to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is part of our Estate Collection because that’s a lot smaller, as you can see. It’s 16 rooms, with another stunning golf course. You can do horseback riding; everything is at your fingertips. Then we have Trump Turnberry. We took over there a couple of years ago with, again, a full renovation of all the golf courses and all the guest rooms as well. What I love about Turnberry is that it used to be a lighthouse there, and we thought, “How amazing would that be to turn that into a guestroom?” So that’s now a 2-bedroom suite. The views, as you can imagine, are—you’re right there on the peninsula overlooking the ocean. It’s a very, very stunning property.
Then obviously we have a lot more of the other golf courses, but they’re just really golf courses. They don’t have rooms attached to them. We go from Los Angeles to New York with our golf courses, which are independently run golf courses.
You must see the beautiful view from Trump Central Park. Central Park is literally our front garden. The great thing is that because it’s Central Park, nobody can ever build in front of us, which in New York, nobody can ever say that.
There are other hotels that do have a view, but we’re the only one that takes up the entire block, so we have nobody blocking our views. A lot of the other hotels look at us; we’re blocking their views, so they have a partial park view. We can honestly say that we have a full-park view with nothing else blocking you.
Do you welcome a lot of French in your market?
We do, but not as much, I have to say. Definitely in the summer months, we see a lot more of the European business coming in. Recently, I have to say, it’s been more Italy than France, and we’ve see quite a growth in Germany as well. But obviously a lot of it has to do with the exchange rate, which is when we see that influx of business, so it really depends with what is going on with the exchange rate. We’re predominantly with the domestic market, but we also receive a lot of people from the U.K. In New York in particular, and in our city hotels, the main markets would be domestic, U.K., Asia, Australia, then Canada.
We’re opening up new resorts in Indonesia, in Bali and Lido. That’s going to be our next new project. That’s going to be residences, golf courses, and hotels. It’s going to open in 2020. I know, it’s tomorrow; it’s a little scary. We’re talking about delivery dates with FF&E coming in.
The wonderful thing about Trump Hotels is that every one of the properties are very unique to the cities. You don’t just walk into one hotel and say, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that brand.” We’ve really tried to keep the essence of what’s going on in the city and what’s local and bring that into the hotel.
All of our city hotels are 4- or 5-star, so we’re very proud of that. That goes for our Waikiki hotel as well.
Do you think it’s important for the customer to be 4- or 5-star?
I do. I think a lot of guests, probably more in the US, understand the 4- or 5-star. In Europe, it’s still being introduced, so it’s not as well-known, but they’re developing it into all of the cities. They did London, they’ve done Paris. I think as they develop, people will appreciate that. But I do feel that, as a 5-star hotel, people know the guaranteed service they’re going to get, and I feel that it helps us with our ADR as well.
Are Diamond’s ratings just as important for you?
Diamond and Triple A are slightly different. It’s not as complex as Forbes. When you have a Forbes inspection, it’s very big, and they do a 2-day stay on a regular basis, whereas for Triple A, it’s once a year. It’s just pass or fail. One year they’ll stay and the next year they’ll just come in and walk the rooms; they won’t actually do a stay.
What are your programs for kids?
We have our signature program, Trump Kids. Again, we try to personalize it. If you’re in Hawaii, we want your cuddly toy to be a dolphin versus when you’re in New York. It’s really personalizing it, and personalizing it to your age as well. We want to make sure we’re not giving you something that is more relevant to a 5-year old if you’re 12 years old.
We have Trump Pets because we know that sometimes the pets are more important than the children when people are traveling. We want to make sure that we’re catering to them. We know that wellness is very big with everybody and they want to be able to carry on their normal routine that they have when they’re home and not get off-track when we’re traveling so much. We try to keep to that as much as possible. Our attaché really focuses on all of our guest preferences and makes sure that that gets carried through into every one of our properties, so if you tell us one thing at one hotel, then any time you go to a different property, that gets carried through.
Then obviously we have our loyalty program because we want to make sure you’re getting to enjoy all of our hotels. We want you to be able to be rewarded, have upgrades, and enjoy complimentary night stays. But again, we want to personalize it. For instance, if you’ve stayed with us 10 times, and I know that you like hockey, I want to personalize something that I know that you want versus having one amenity that goes to everyone after 10 stays.
Do you have any programs related to sustainability?
We don’t go out there with an actual program, but every one of the hotels are obviously very conscious of that. We look into LED lightbulbs, linen programs, energy programs and trying to make as many efficiencies as we can. I think it’s a bit difficult to go out there with a bold statement because then people start to go, “Well, that’s actually not green.” So the areas that we know that we do, we do very well. It’s very difficult in the luxury market. That’s the most challenging. Whilst at home, we may recycle, when we pay $800 for a room, I want my sheets changed everyday. I want fresh towels. I want to keep my lights on. We may do it at home, but I think the luxury traveler doesn’t necessarily focus on that when they’re traveling, and that’s certainly not a deciding factor when they book their hotel.
There are certain hotels and there are great brands that have come out with that, and you’ll have some consumers who are very focused, but I feel at the luxury level, that’s not what’s driving where they’re going to book.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.