Seated in a suite on the 60th floor of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Eric Trump looks remarkably rested for a guy who, two days earlier, had been in Ireland, sealing the latest deal for The Trump Organization, the rapidly expanding development firm headed by his father, Donald Trump. “We found an amazing property called Doonbeg on the west coast of Ireland. It’s a golf course and hotel, [and] it’s so beautiful,” he says enthusiastically. “When we heard it was for sale, we wanted it so bad that we put in the contract literally in six days, which is probably a record.”
Even though he just turned 30 in January, Eric Trump is firmly ensconced in the booming family business. As executive vice president of development and acquisitions, Trump expects to rack up 200,000 miles this year jetting around the world. An exclusive residential tower is soaring on Manila’s skyline, and new hotels are scheduled to open in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington, D.C. They’ll bring the number of properties in the Trump Hotel Collection to 12, and Eric Trump confidently says he expects the total to zoom past 30 over the next six years. “It’s really exciting. We’re the fastest-growing [luxury] hotel company in the world right now,” he claims. “In terms of performance, in terms of ADRs, in terms of occupancy, we’ve been beating pretty much every hotel in every market that we’re in. We do it with a very lean machine.”
Trump attributes that success and the energetic expansion plans to the fact that the company is family owned and therefore not answerable to investors: “[Publicly held companies] can’t sustain the ADR to run a true quality hotel because they have to appease shareholders, to show them that they’re growing.” The worldwide recession also deserves some of the credit. The newly acquired Irish property was in bankruptcy when the Trumps moved in. So, too, was the Doral golf resort in Miami, another recent purchase. “We like to buy things out of bankruptcy,” Trump acknowledges. “I think we probably wouldn’t be the size that we are if we didn’t have an economy that let us go in and take things that were in trouble or under water and do great things with them.
“There are so many hotel companies out there that are pure management companies,” he adds. “We own the actual physical assets and that really separates us from a lot of companies that are really more like figureheads, just names on buildings.”
Possibly the most exciting current venture is the Washington, D.C., hotel, which will take shape inside the historic Old Post Office Pavilion, opened in 1899 as the headquarters of the federal government’s mail service. “We competed against every big player in the world,” Trump says. “This is a project that had to go in front of Congress to get approved.” The $200 million renovation of the Pennsylvania Avenue property, according to Eric’s ebullient father, will restore the iconic building “to far beyond its original grandeur.”
While the United States will hold future opportunities for the Trump family, much of the expansion in coming years will occur overseas. “There are so many opportunities outside the U.S. right now…in countries that have thriving economies,” Eric observes. “We want to go into the best cities in the world. We don’t want to go into tertiary cities. We want to go into the Rios, the Shanghais, the Hong Kongs.”
Despite the fact that most people associate the Trump name with his distinguished dad, Eric clearly doesn’t mind. “I have a father who’s my best friend and an incredible mentor,” he says. “He never shuts his brain down to real estate and hotels. And, quite frankly, neither do I.”