Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trump: "Best-Executed Version of The Worst-Considered Idea"

As promised, here's my Las Vegas Weekly column for July 17 on the oddity that is the Trump.


The mogul's Strip tower is loaded with question marks


I'm sitting at the lobby bar of the undeniably pretty Trump International Hotel on a Sunday evening about to tuck into a $21 burger and sip from an $8 pink-grapefruit soda. I didn’t mean to splurge on dinner here, but I popped in to take a look-see and realized that this was the only thing for me to do.

Which is, of course, the big problem here. The slender gold tower with the most famous name in real estate emblazoned atop it is a bafflement to all who consider its existence. It is also, by a large measure, the very last place most Las Vegas tourists should ever feel comfortable visiting.

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that not only will the planned second tower never be built, but we in the media will also be writing many stories in coming years about the struggle of this property. It is the best-executed version of the worst-considered idea in Vegas today.

I’ll explain that in a moment, but consider the exchange I had when I pulled up. There’s no self-parking, and the valet woman looked me up and down when I stepped out of my vehicle. I was unshaven, wearing a gray T-shirt, ratty painter’s shorts and sandals, and I felt immediately as though I was violating some standard of decency. She was pleasant enough, but she also grilled me with a smile.

“Are you checking in?” she asked.


“Are you meeting someone?”


“Are you going to the spa?”

No. I assume she knew I wasn’t going to the fancy restaurant in those duds. “Just here to look around,” I said cheerily.

“You know there’s no casino here, right?”

Uh, yes. Can I have my valet ticket? Please?

Once inside, I was certainly impressed by the polished lobby with all its sparkly things and comfy sofas. But I was struck by how anti-Vegas the entire place is.

I know, I know. Exclusivity is this joint’s big selling point. But it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a whole lot of selling here. I met a Norwegian at the bar who was in on business and usually stays at the Wynn but decided to give the Trump a go because the room rates were more than a quarter lower than Wynn’s. He’s enjoyed himself here, he said, because “there’s almost nobody here, so the service is great, and it’s a lot quieter.”

That’s an endorsement, but an odd one. There are very few people who come to Las Vegas to get away from the hustle and bustle. Some come here for work and prefer to be shielded from it, true, but as Sheldon Adelson has so successfully proved, you must appeal to both conventioneers and vacation travelers in order to keep a steady occupancy level throughout the week and year.

Instead, what we have is a hotel-condo property that seems to actively discourage the casual visitor, which is, dare I say it, un-Vegasian.

Read the rest HERE.


Hunter said...

I stayed here a few months ago to try it out and while I wouldn't probably do it again, the service and room were both fantastic.

Lots of little touches - when they bring your car up from valet, they put cold water bottles in the cup holders for you, etc...

My blog post is here for those interested:

Anonymous said...

The building looks like a cigarette lighter

Anonymous said...

hunter -
i think steve's pointing out hte flaws in the business model, not necessarily the quality of the place. i really hope that burger was worth it!

Hunter said...

Oh, he's def. talking about the model and I didn't say I disagreed with him at all. He could easily be right.

Just saying, from someone that has actually stayed there, there are some things to like from a guest perspective, for some types of travelers.

Not for me - personally I like the excitement of the casino.

rob said...

That will be the day when I drop 21.00 on a burger and $8.00 for a soda over at Trumps. Of course there will not be a tower 2, however I think the MGM and others will be in a world of pain also. Room rates at Trump should dropping like a rock also. That is if they want to rent any rooms.

If the middle east guys didn't infuse money into city center, who knows what would happen. Don't ask anyone at MGM because they will blame the banks for lack of funding. Meanwhile they claimed a huge number of sales.

What is unique about Trump vegas, is that Trump has his own money in this deal so he is pissed. Many of the flashy deals people pay Trump for his name. If they don't work out Trump tells the Wall Street Journal that they were bad business people.