Donald Trump may or may not be the republican nominee for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but his new hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW won’t be very far from the White House however things turn out.
Last Monday, Trump Hotels announced that it plans to open the $200 million renovated facility in September, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The hotel will feature 263 rooms, of which 35 will be suites. Three of those will be “presidential suites,” according to Mickael Damelincourt, managing director for the project, ranging from 2,500 to 6,300 square feet. The biggest suite will outstrip others in D.C. “by more than 2,000 square feet,” Damelincourt says.
“It’s very important to marry the old and the new” given site’s history, he says. “We’re trying to create a modern space.”
The 6,300-square-foot suite, also known as the Trump Townhouse, will have a private entrance and start at $25,000 a night. Rates for more-modest rooms will begin at $545 a night, although prices may fluctuate based on demand. Many rooms have already been booked by corporations for next year, across multi-day stays, Damelincourt says: “What I can tell you is that we’re expecting it to be very busy—it’s tough to find a room in this city,” especially at the end of the year.
The hotel will also feature a 13,000-square-foot ballroom as part of new addition on the east side of the pavilion, which will be able to accommodate around 1,000 people for events like weddings, banquets, and international meetings. Nine meeting rooms are being installed above the ballroom for such gatherings. The complement will have its own entrance. Weddings, Damelincourt says, could cost $650 to $1,000 a person on average, noting that customization affects prices.
Inside the main building, BLT Prime, a steakhouse, will anchor the space beneath a glass covering at nine-stories high. “There will be lots of natural light and an incredible view of the clock-tower,” the managing director explains. Asked about another restaurant that may open in the hotel, he replied that his team is focusing on the opening of BLT. He could not comment on lawsuits Trump filed in 2015 against celebrity chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian for allegedly breaching contracts to open hotel-restaurants. (A judge recently ordered the Trump family to appear for a deposition.)
When the hotel opens, it will have a staff of about 500, Damelincourt says, which may expand to 600 or 650 depending on business. He adds that he’s looking for employees who are passionate about customer service and fine dining. “It’s a lot of pressure!” Damelincourt says. “You really need to be on top of your game on a daily basis. It’s all about consistency.”
The hiring process has already started with hotel managers. The managing director expects thousands of applications for associate roles, with the majority filled by June so the company can be sure everything is in place over the summer.
As for the 2017 presidential inauguration, Damelincourt says the hotel has already gotten a lot of inquiries; prices will be higher than normal. “It’s easy to understand—it’s right on Pennsylvania Avenue. We expect the hotel to be sold out.”
And will Trump himself attend the hotel’s grand opening come September? “There’s nothing guaranteed, obviously, depending on his agenda,” Damelincourt explains. “But, I do know for sure he’s keeping a close eye on this project.”
Photo by Andrew Giambrone