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Trump's Doral resort 'severely underperforming' thanks to a presidential brand

Douglas Hanks and Taylor Dolven, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- The presidency hasn't been kind to Donald Trump's prized Miami resort.

Even with the most famous hotelier in the world as its namesake, the Trump National Doral Miami has lost ground to its local competitors and seen profits drop since Donald Trump took office.

A consultant the resort hired to contest its Miami-Dade tax bill told a magistrate late last year that a "negative connotation" with the Trump "brand" helps explain the decline.

"There's clearly been factors that have influenced the hotel," Miami consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a magistrate for the county's Value Adjustment Board on Dec. 5. "There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand."

The comments were first reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday as part of the paper's look at how the Trump presidency intertwines with the Trump business empire.

The Trump Organization's Doral resort is a key corner of that commercial enterprise, ranking as the No. 1 source of revenue for then-candidate Trump in his first disclosure form as a presidential candidate four years ago. It held the same rank in the president's 2018 financial disclosure form, with reported income to Trump of $75 million.

 

But that's down from $116 million in the president's 2017 report, and the hotel itself described a similar drop-off in profits as it appealed its 2018 property tax bill. The Post described it as "the first known case in which a Trump Organization representative has publicly acknowledged the president's name has hurt business."

With Trump's divisive presidency -- polls show he's popular with his Republican base and strongly disliked by Democrats -- some large groups have been avoiding hotels that carry his brand. Macy's dropped Trump neckties during the 2016 campaign, the PGA pulled out of Doral and a Trump California property that year, too, and some building owners have pulled the Trump name off their property.

Vachiratevanurak danced around that trend in her appearance before a county magistrate charged with considering the Trump Doral's request for a lower tax bill. She did not mention the president in video proceedings reviewed by the Miami Herald, but her comments talked of problems with the hotel's brand and an issue with the "intangible value" of the "name of the property" in explaining disappointing results.

She walked the county officials through 2017 figures showing the Trump Doral trailing its large, upscale competitors in the Miami area, such as the Turnberry resort in Aventura, Loews in Miami Beach and Intercontinental in downtown Miami.

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