TRAVEL | CHRISTOPHER MUTHER
Todd Heisler/New York Times/File
The Toronto hotel room was a bargain that was too good to be true. If there were infomercials for hotel rooms, the announcer would have bellowed, “But that’s not all! Order now and we’ll include a Jacuzzi tub and a 72-inch, flat-screen television, absolutely free during your stay! Operators are standing by.”
I couldn’t bring myself to book this easy-on-the-change-purse room, even with $500 slashed off the price tag. Despite slick Internet photos showing the hotel’s opulent marble lobby, I turned away. It wasn’t what was on the inside that stopped me — it was what was on the outside.
The facade of the sleek glass building sported the name “Trump.” The name sat squat and imposing in a way that did not say “Relax and enjoy your stay.” It barked “Trump” at me, like a frustrated dog in a fenced yard.
Mind you, this rock bottom rate was in early 2016, a year before Donald Trump was president. Now, just over a year after he was elected, there are signs that the Trump brand is not faring well in the hotel industry.
A British firm this week reported prices at Trump’s luxury hotels dropped 20 percent during the first 300 days of his presidency.
Also this week, news broke that the Trump Organization, which is helmed by Donald Jr. and Eric, will pull out of the Soho hotel that bears the family name. The posh hotel has been slashing room rates since Trump took office.
Hotel rates are a game of supply and demand, and no matter what your political predilection, Trump’s disposition is not one that conjures thoughts of an extensive pillow menu or ordering room service while idly watching “House Hunters International” in bed. Travel, unless it’s for the business of business, should be about the business of contentment. Ambrosial lodging fantasies are best when they include heated towels, not thoughts of the president throwing paper towels in Puerto Rico.
Apparently I’m not the only one with this opinion.
While there are indicators that business remains strong at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and at Mar-a-Lago, The Washington Post has reported that 16 pro sports teams are now avoiding his hotels. The story also noted that his golf clubs in California and New York have lost bookings for charity tournaments.
The early signs that the hotel-going public wasn’t warming to Trump were clear.For example, once Trump was the Republican nominee, participants of the Toronto Film Festival eschewed the Trump property for other luxury lodging options.
The recently released Trump hotel study, conducted by FairFX, a prepaid currency card provider, found that prices at Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas dropped 64 percent; in Vancouver and Washington, D.C., rates plummeted more than 50 percent. Perhaps vacationers in D.C. didn’t want to be reminded that both the Government Accountability Office and the Office of Inspector General are looking into Trump’s lease of the federal building housing the Trump International Hotel.
If you’re traveling to the nation’s capital and would like to stay in a historically important hotel with presidential ties, might I suggested the newly remodeled and insanely chic Watergate?
In the winter and spring of 2016, as I looked for a hotel in Toronto, a field of Republican presidential hopefuls were throwing insults at one another the way mean-spirited children throw snowballs with chunks of ice and pebbles. This was ugliness I didn’t want to think about in Canada. What I wanted to see there was a square-jawed, charismatic leader making an appearance in my selfies.
I also had no interest in checking into a hotel where I might be greeted with a tweet ending in an exclamation point. I’m sure that’s not actually a thing, but it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.
But in the spirit of bipartisan product placement, I would sidestep staying in hotels bearing the names of other presidents. I wouldn’t rush to stay at a resort called the LBJ Arms, or the Jimmy Carter Habitat for Luxury Rooms and Suites. I hold no grudge against these presidents, but I believe in separation of check-in and state.
The bargain Trump Hotel room in Toronto was probably perfectly nice, but I didn’t want the president’s name coloring my experience. It would loom over me, and I would feel a certain amount of guilt telling friends I had stayed there.
Apparently many others wrestled with the same quandary because, like in Soho, the Trumps pulled out of the Toronto property earlier this year. It’s now called the Adelaide Hotel. Adelaide is a lyrical name that sings, “I’m fun, yet classy.”
More importantly, the name sounds welcoming, and it doesn’t sound like a bark, or a political endorsement.
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