The Mar-a-Lago resort, owned by the Trump Organization, has doubled its membership fee to $200,000 after Donald Trump assumed office as the President.
The Florida-based palm resort has witnessed a growing interest since the election. The increase in initiation fee could boost its revenues after President Trump called the resort the “Winter White House”. The hike could also directly benefit his private fortune after he refused to divest his business holdings while holding office. However, his son Donald Jr. has been appointed as the club’s official director as a part of Trump’s pledge to separate his business from his presidency.
It is noteworthy that the membership fee was slashed by half from $200,000 to $100,000 back in 2012 in the wake of a reported decline in memberships following the Bernie Madoff scandal.
A daily was reported to have quoted sources close to the resort as saying that the increase had come into effect on January 1 and had been considered for some time.
The members-only resort, which requires its members to pay $14,000 a year as annual fees over and above the membership fees, plus tax, is located across 20 acres and has more than 100 rooms, along with private quarters for Trump and his family. The sumptuous resort also has a ballroom encompassing a whopping 20,000 square feet, a beach club, pools, restaurants and tennis courts. The resort earns its revenue through two means: as a private club exclusively meant for members, and as a venue that can be rented for weddings and events. Hosting an event at the club can cost anything between $100,000 and $300,000.
The club, which has come to offer its deep-pocketed members the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with the President, has also given a chance to Trump’s critics and ethics watchdogs to lay into him. Norm Eisen, a former chief White House ethics adviser, termed the Mar-a-Lago price-hike as a “naked profiteering that is more like something out of the era of Louis XVI.” Eisen is part of a lawsuit accusing Trump of acting in violation of a constitutional provision barring presidents from taking payments from foreign governments.
While the Trump Organization has assured that it will not engage in any new overseas deals, it also intends to keep expanding its operations and outreach in the U.S., and the Mar-a-Lago move is an indicator that price hike can be instrumental to its growth.
According to Bloomberg, the chief executive officer of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, hinted at a threefold expansion in the States. “There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five,” CEO Eric Danziger said after a panel discussion at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”
Although the executives at the Trump Organization have chosen not to respond to the criticism, the timing is likely to be used by Trump’s critics to drive home their argument that the new president elect is trying to profit from a government office.