US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opened the latest outpost in his real estate empire on Monday, a luxury hotel in a historic building five blocks from the White House that underwent a two-year, $200 million (£150m) renovation.
While staff members at the 263-room Trump International Hotel planned little hoopla for what they described as a “soft opening,” about 40 protesters opposed to the New York real estate developer’s presidential run gathered outside. The opening came eight weeks before the November 8 election.
“It kind of fits his personality that he finds a way to be on Pennsylvania Avenue, one way or another,” said protester Judy Byron, 70, a Washington artist.
The hotel, which includes a $20,000-a-night suite, is less than a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. The hotel is housed in Washington’s third-tallest building, the 1899 Old Post Office, built in the Romanesque Revival architectural style.
Mr Trump said on Twitter he had stopped by the property “to thank all of the tremendous men & women for their hard work!”
The protesters criticised some of Mr Trump’s positions, including a promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to block illegal immigrants. Protest organiser Andrew Castro of Baltimore said: “We’re out here building a wall against racism.”
Stopped by @TrumpDC to thank all of the tremendous men & women for their hard work! pic.twitter.com/oGcJL4N454
Dozens of people filtered in and out on Monday afternoon, some to gawk and others pausing for a drink at the hotel’s bar.
On his way in, Ric Hedlund, who works in port development, said he had been impressed by the renovations of a building that he said was previously “a dump.”
“I’m going in to drink Trump wine,” said Mr Hedlund, who added he also supported Mr Trump as a candidate.
Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who helped negotiate the 60-year lease with the US government and oversaw the building’s revamp and design, said the project had come in a year ahead of schedule and under budget.
“We have really positioned this hotel to not only be the finest hotel in DC but in the country,” she said in a telephone interview.
A grand-opening ceremony is planned for next month.
The Republican nominee attended the 2014 groundbreaking for the renovations alongside local Democratic officials before launching his presidential campaign last year.
While Mr Trump’s name is hard to escape in his native New York, where it adorns structures including the Trump Tower as well as a Bronx golf course, the hotel marks his most visible presence in Washington.
His comments describing some Mexican immigrants as criminals prompted celebrity chefs Jose Andres and Geoffrey Zakarian to pull out of the project. Mr Trump has sued them.
News Source TelegraphNews