Donald Trump took a detour from the campaign trail for the “grand opening” of the Washington, D.C. hotel that bears his name. The Trump International Hotel has been open for over a month, but Wednesday was the ribbon-cutting ceremony for what the GOP nominee referred to as “the most coveted piece of real estate in Washington, D.C.,” next to 1600 Pennsylvania, of course.
He said his theme today boiled down to five words: “Under budget and ahead of schedule,” he said in six words. “That’s what we do.” He added that the renovation of the hotel was “what I want to do for our country.” In contrast, he said just about everything the government touches is broken, over budget, and “nothing works,” citing veterans administration health care as an example.
In an aside, he spotted his surrogate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and congratulated him for “an amazing interview” with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “We don’t play games, Newt, right?” In the interview Trump alluded to, Gingrich had a heated argument with Kelly over Trump, in which
As soon as the ceremony finished, Trump said he was returning to the battleground states of “North Carolina, New Hampshire and back down to Florida, where I hear we’re doing well.” Bloomberg released a poll Wednesday showing Trump with a slight two-point edge over Hillary Clinton in Florida.
This was the second time in two days that Trump had broken from the campaign trail to promote the Trump brand. On Tuesday, Trump visitedand asked for testimonials about working for him from the club’s employees.
While Trump has credited his strong balance sheet for helping him win the bidding on the property, in the end he won the bid because he grossly outbid everyone else, CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg pointed out in an interview with CBSN. Major hotel companies like Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott participated in the bidding for the Old Post Office but dropped out, given the size of Trump’s bid.
The Trump organization is paying the U.S. government about $200 million for a 60-year lease on the building, and it spent a reported $200 million on renovating the old post office into a 263-room luxury hotel -- or about $760,000 per room, which suggests the hotel would need to book each room at $725 “break-even” rate for at least 1,000 nights to even approach a break-even point.
After the contract was awarded to Trump, Hilton wrote to the government and predicted a “devastating failure” was on the horizon for the historic property, given that the room rates “are simply not attainable in this location based on the concepts for redevelopment,” New York magazine reported this month.
Greenberg told CBSN’s Josh Elliott that when the hotel opened, Trump was charging officially up to $825 per night, $100 more than the break-even rate of $725. His rates today are $404 per night, said Greenberg. “So the question remains, how can he maintain that with the rates that are vastly below what’s necessary to maintain the debt? The math suggests he can’t,” said Greenberg. CBS News sought comment from the Trump Organization but has not received a response yet.
And if you want to stay at the Trump International Hotel on inauguration night, Greenberg said, it’ll cost a minimum of $1,250 per night with a five-night minimum. At this point, the hotel is not saying how many rooms are booked.
Meanwhile, one of the two, Jose Andres, is campaigning with Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton Wednesday afternoon in Florida.
CBS News’ Sopan Deb contributed to this report.