Trump Boys TREMENDOUS Failures In Hotel Biz, If You Can Believe That
A quick update on the real estate development careers of Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, who are super-geniuses! Back in 2016, the Trump Organization announced it would build a great big chain of upscale hotels that wouldn't have the "Trump" brand. Instead, the new hotels would be called "Scion," because as a press release helpfully reminded journalists, scion "means 'descendant of a notable family,'" so these new hotels are like the offspring of the king of hotels. Please pay no attention to the tiny detail that it's also the name of Toyota's failed line of sporty-ish little cars millennials didn't buy enough of, because they were ugly. (FORESHADOWING?) At the time, Donald Trump hadn't yet held that presser with all the empty folders to announce he was putting his business in a nearsighted trust to be run by Eric And Don Jr., but hey, what a nice coincidence. Now the scions were in charge of Scion, and also a second hotel chain called "American Idea."
But as the Washington Post reports, the new brands are not experiencing meteoric growth. Of the 39 properties announced just after Trump took office, only three are actually being built, and they're all in Mississippi. Not a single hotel outside Mississippi has gotten underway. But maybe that's simply because the Trump Boys are such geniuses that they want to make sure every last detail is perfect. That, or they're still learning how to stiff contractors.
Sadly, the Trump Boys just seem a tad slow in getting their very own hotel empire off the ground:
The first Scion, in Cleveland, Miss., remains nearly a year from completion. The first two American Idea hotels, in the same area, will not open until later this year.
And no projects outside of Mississippi have publicly materialized, giving Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump little to celebrate following a two-year stretch overseeing their father's business. During that time, the company became the target of federal court cases and lost deals in some markets after partners complained about the brand.
Still, Eric-n-Donnie have a loyal partner in the three-hotel dynasty. The Scion will be built and owned by Mississippi brothers Dinesh and Suresh Chawla, who already own 18 hotels around the Gulf Coast. The brothers are renovating two of their existing hotels, a Comfort Inn and a Rodeway Inn, to become the first American Idea hotels. Once the hotels are actually up and running, they'll still be owned by the Chawlas, while the Trumps will handle the marketing and management. And gosh, if the whole thing goes ass-over-teakettle in a frenzy of grift and backbiting, at least the story of two sets of brothers from very different backgrounds (the Chawlas are the sons of a refugee from India) could make for a terrific quirky comedy-drama on cable. "Better Call the Chawlas," maybe.
In a novel variation on the usual Trump Inc. storyline, the flailing attempt to bring forth two new hotel brands doesn't appear to involve any criming -- just some incompetence and development setbacks:
The plans for Mississippi remain. But Dinesh Chawla now says that at the direction of Trump Organization executives, he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and the better part of a year reworking the Scion so it will be capable of attracting meetings, concerts and festivals to Cleveland.
Eventually the 100-room hotel, half-completed on a 17-acre site, will be surrounded by 10 other buildings for restaurants and event space in a complex costing more than $20 million. Chawla estimated he would spend $5 million more than he originally planned.
"They looked at all our plans, and they liked the basic layout of the hotel, but they did not find our meeting space functional," Chawla said. "They worked with us around how it could be restructured."
As the Post notes, Cleveland, Mississippi (population 15,800) isn't exactly the sort of place the average developer of a luxury hotel chain would look at and decide THIS IS THE PLACE. Since nearly 60 percent of families in the area make under $35,000 annually, locals aren't likely to be booking many rooms at the Scion. Not with an expected $200-$300 per night rate. Currently, the big draw for Cleveland is blues music, but who knows whether there's enough tourism potential to support a new upscale Scion hotel and Trump-Jr.-branded glorified Comfort and Rodeway Inns in nearby Clarksdale and Greenville, respectively. Hey, maybe the hotels themselves will become a huge destination, with all the amenities and conference rooms? Local tourism boosters and Dinesh Chawla sure are optimistic, kind of:
"We need to grow the pie," Chawla said. "If we just capture the current Cleveland visitors' market, we'd be going into bankruptcy."
Makes you wonder whether any Saudi royals have a taste for blues music, huh? In any case, Mississippi taxpayers must surely be excited about the prospects of job creation and huge benefits:
Mississippi's department of tourism approved up to $6 million in tax rebates for the project on top of already approved local subsidies, and the Chawlas have talked about partnering with Delta State University, a state-run school.
And Mississippi is very definitely Trump country, unlike those snooty liberal places that have clamored to dump the Trump brand from properties in New York, Chicago, and Toronto. Trump remains popular in the state, and for all we know, the three hotels in the Delta will do a huge business hosting gatherings of New York Times reporters going on Cletus Safaris.
We're sure that even if the Mississippi hotels do go tits up, Don Jr. and Eric will be fine. Heck, considering the Trump family history, we bet Daddy Trump will find some clever way to bail them out if he needs to -- like their daddy's daddy did for him! -- and then they can both claim they became billionaires through hard work, a tiny little loan, and their own gumption. Then, once Junior and Eric are president together, we can find out the details, and the Wall Street Journal can dismissively say, oh heck, everybody does it.
It's the American Idea.
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