Today I stopped by what was formerly known as The Old Post Office Pavilion, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP), which reopened today as The Trump International Hotel – Washington, D.C. Based on a 60-year lease from the Federal government, Donald Trump has transformed the building into a 263-room luxury hotel which he proclaims is “one of the finest hotels in the world.”
Beginning today, guests will be able to stay at the new five-star hotel at rates that start at $750 per night and go up to $4,800 a night for the premier “Postmaster Suite”. After the hotel’s official grand opening, which will take place later this year, room rates will drop to around $472 a night for a “Deluxe Room”, and $9,000 for the one-bedroom “Presidential Suite”. But the Presidential Suite is not the most expensive accommodations being offered. For that, guests will have to book the hotel namesake’s “Trump Townhouse”. For that, guests will have to pay $18,750 per night.
For today’s opening, the Answer Coalition and Code Pink organizations were joined by a few individual protestors to conduct a demonstration in front of the new hotel. However, when I was there at around noon during the peak of the protest, only about two dozen protestors had shown up to display their signs and banners. As indicated by a sign-up table and pile of mass-produced signs on the ground next to it, they had been expecting many more people to show up to participate. It is unknown how many people the organizing groups initially expected to be part of the protest, but most likely they expected many more than I saw while I was there. In the end, I saw more journalists and photographers there to cover the event than the people they were there to cover.
Adding insult to injury, the protestors were often drowned out by a street preacher in a red shirt who brought his own bullhorn to their bully pulpit. Riding around on a bicycle in front of the protestors while simultaneously broadcasting his own personal message, he often drowned out the speakers at the protestors. At times the speakers even stopped what they were doing while they waited for him to stop talking or, at times, dancing. But when he did stop it was usually only temporary.
However, despite the protest not being a success in terms of size or getting out their message, the protestors may eventually have the last laugh. Trump made the deal and broke ground on the renovation before he entered the Presidential race. At that time his brand was mostly associated with luxury amenities and quality customer service. But now, after more than a year of campaigning, the Trump name is much more polarizing and off-putting to many people. And how that will translate into business for the hotel is as uncertain as the outcome of the upcoming election.
UPDATE (9/12/2016): I was contacted via Twitter and advised that the protest was planned as an all-day event, and that the number of protestors had increased to approximately 75 participants by early evening.
UPDATE (10/1/2016): The hotel was the scene of ongoing discontent and protests when it was vandalized today with spray-painted messages of “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice No Peace” near the front entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue.