- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2015


Donald Trump is planting his footprint firmly in the nation’s capital.

Sure, he has his eyes cast on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and perhaps the most expensive public housing complex in all America. That would be the White House. And he certainly is continuing to make a name for (who else?) himself as he makes the rounds of the 2016 GOP presidential nomination race with his own money.

But in 2016, The Donald is scheduled to hit another a high water mark when Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. opens its doors. During last year’s ground-breaking, Mr. Trump said Trump International will be “one of the finest hotels anywhere in the world.”

He seemingly has read the business tea leaves perfectly and invested wisely.

The city’s tourism cup runneth over, drawing a record 20.2 million visitors last year and seeing increases in both domestic and international visitors. Sixteen percent (1.9 million) of those visitors were from China, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, India, South Korea, Brazil, Japan and Italy. While those countries represent the top 10 overseas markets and a small percentage of the overall market, those countries’ visitors represent 27 percent of travelers’ spending an average of $518 per stay.

Now, to be frank, it is highly unlikely $518 will cover one-night’s stay at Trump’s place. Promised to become a five-star hotel, Trump International started out as the Post Office in 1899 and as recently as 1998 underwent a makeover with shops and eateries, and outdoor eating and sipping space. But the popularity of the nearby Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center became too tough a competitor.

Enter the Trump brand and a $200 million makeover. The Trumps said that while they will maintain the original grandeur of the Post Office Building and its tower, the Trump International press release used the word “luxury” at least a half-dozen times to describe everything from its spa and furnishings, to retailers and guest rooms.

Two-hundred-seventy guest rooms average more than 600 square feet and 16-foot ceilings, the largest in Washington, D.C., as well as soaring windows, restored historic millwork, and glittering crystal sconces and chandeliers, the Trumps bragged in the press release. “In addition, two extraordinary Presidential Suites will be located in the historic former offices of the Postmaster General,” it said.

“At 3,500 and 5,000 square feet, the three-bedroom suites will be among the largest in the country,” the statement said. “The suites will feature: an oversized master bedroom suite with windows on three exposures offering views of The Capitol and The Washington Monument; a formal dining room with original fireplace; a pantry/kitchen for use by dignitaries during extended stays; a service entry; walk-in closets; exercise room; and a two-person shower and steam room.”

All, of course, air-conditioned — a luxury America’s Founding Fathers never imagined.

But that’s Donald Trump for you. He doesn’t do things quietly, and he’s not the ambiguous type — even though some of his Republican friends, like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, want you to think he is.

D.C. needs the Trump International, although the city already has other luxurious hotels, and there certainly will be plenty of internationally well-known and unknown newsmakers who will want to book a room or a suite there — something Mr. Trump understands.

This is not merely the home to embassies, former and current diplomats, but a draw for discreet jetsetters and big wheelers who roll in and out of Washington (sometimes using aliases).

And with millennials making a name for themselves in the travel industry, who knows what the Trump Family Millennials — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — have up their sleeves.

Millennials are driving the travel and tourism industry, to be sure — and in Washington that industry is second only to government.

It is so vital that Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to pour another $3 million in the bucket and Elliott Ferguson, the president and CEO of Destination DC, knows where to focus — millennials.

He said Destination DC will relaunch its “D.C. Cool” branding campaign, which began in 2013, and showcase the city as “a hip and vibrant destination.”

Ms. Bowser said she knows that “topping off a record-breaking year can be difficult,” and that is why she is planning a robust around-the-world travel schedule that includes a trip later this year to China.

Smart move, since visitors from China ranked the No. 1 pot on D.C.’s list.

Mr. Trump is thinking ahead, too.

Trump International is scheduled to open in 2016. The year American voters will have decided whether Mr. Trump will move into 1600 Pennsylvania NW.

It also is the year that the next president’s transition team will be in town and need somewhere to stay.

More important, it is the year before the next inauguration. And that is when Trump International will to fall into the lap of luxury.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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