Trump's Washington hotel is half-empty and more expensive than competitors, figures suggest

Mr Trump has retained ownership of his real estate empire while serving in the White House

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Saturday 27 January 2018 23:27
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to the waiting motorcade after having dinner at Trump International Hotel
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to the waiting motorcade after having dinner at Trump International Hotel

Donald Trump’s extravagant hotel in Washington, DC was reportedly more expensive and emptier than its peers in 2017.

The establishment – a popular hangout for administration officials and the President’s supporters – had an average monthly occupancy rate of about 50 per cent from January through November 2017, according to data provided to CNN.

That occupancy rate is about 33 per cent below an industry average for a wide group of luxury hotels in the nation’s capital over the same period, the outlet reported.

At the same time, the Trump hotel charged nightly room rates that were 40 per cent higher on average than comparable hotels in the area.

In January, before being inaugurated into office, Mr Trump said he would maintain ownership of his global business empire but hand off control to his two oldest sons while president.

It was reported in August that the Mr Trump’s company took home nearly $2m in profits this year at its Washington DC property – amid ethics concerns stemming from the President’s refusal to fully divest from his businesses while he is in office.

The Trump Organization had predicted that the Trump International Hotel – located just blocks from the White House – would lose $2.1m during the first quarter of 2017, according to the Washington Post. Instead, the company turned a 1.97m profit during that period at the property.

The hotel, which opened last fall, is in the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the same road on which the White House is located. The Trump Organization rents the property from the federal government.

Government ethics experts and congressional Democrats have admonished the government’s lease, with Representative Peter DeFazio calling it a “highly unethical arrangement”.

Because Mr Trump has retained ownership of his real estate empire while serving in the White House, he can still financially benefit from his business interests. Ethics experts have also asserted that several of Mr Trump’s businesses present ways by which foreign governments could seek to influence the President by, for example, booking stays at one of his hotels.

The hotel’s expensive nightly rates are believed to have likely contributed to the property’s profitability. But the Wall Street Journal reported that the hotel also received a higher-than-normal part of its revenue from food and beverages – possibly from all the Trump-supporting tourists that want to stop in and have a drink.

Members of Mr Trump’s inner circle and other Republican leaders have also often been spotted in the hotel’s bar and restaurant.

The President is not one to dine around town. But on rare nights when he does decide to venture out of the White House, he likes to head to his hotel, likely for a steak.

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