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.
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