I miss the old Donald Trump

NBC reports that business at Donald Trump’s luxury hotels has plummeted, and that The Trump Organization’s next hotel chain will be called “Scion.” (Fortunately, Toyota has no use for that name anymore.)

Bookings at the newly opened Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue also seem to be bearing the brunt of this contentious election cycle.

When it had its soft opening in September, rack rates for the basic 410-square “deluxe” rooms started at over $575 a night.

Checking the hotel’s online booking site, that same room type is now available for an unrestricted rate of $505, with a discount to $404 for AAA members, for at least the next two weekends and for the weekend after the presidential election.

By comparison, when searching Expedia for a five-star hotel in Washington, D.C., next weekend, a room at the St. Regis Washington, D.C. is available for $655 a night, while the Hay-Adams and others show as sold out.

The Trump family plans an official ribbon-cutting and press conference for the D.C. hotel on October 26, but for now, it’s the falling room rates that are getting noticed.

Despite its prime location and promotional mentions by Donald Trump himself, “empty rooms have forced hotel to reduce rates during the peak season,” noted New York Magazine.


“While the Trump name is a powerful brand name, it may also carry some negative connotation with travelers from around the world,” noted Keven Murphy, chair of the Hospitality Services Department, at Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando.

Perhaps that’s why Trump’s newest hotel line, announced last month, won’t bear his name at all: The Trump Organization has dropped the name completely, going for Scion, which means “descendant of a notable family,” the company’s news release explained.

For all the damage Donald Trump has wrought since he launched his divisive neo-fascist campaign for President, the most damage was arguably self-inflicted.

It seems hard to believe now, but it really wasn’t too long ago that Trump was a legitimately beloved celebrity.   Everyone wanted to be like him in the 80s, everyone respected his comeback in the 90s, and everyone watched his TV show in the 2000s.  He was a uniquely American celebrity: unrepentantly wealthy, yet seemingly down-to-earth with a gift for self-deprecation.

How many other (alleged) billionaires would make commercials with Grimace?

Now we know, of course, that the entire Trump edifice was built in sand.  He harassed women, stiffed small businesses, and after Obama’s election to the Presidency outed himself as a believer in racist conspiracy theories.

More than anything, the rise (and, now, the fall) of Trump’s political career reminds me of the media frenzy that surrounded the OJ Simpson trial – another phenomenon that proved a well-known celebrity was really nothing like his popular persona.

I miss the days when I could watch the Naked Gun movies without thinking Nordberg brutally (and, um, allegedly) murdered two people in real life.  And I miss the days when Donald Trump was just a harmless, charismatic, entertaining distraction instead of something much more dangerous.

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