The average monthly occupancy rate at the emolument quagmire that is the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, was nearly a third less than industry standards in the nation’s capital throughout most of 2017, a new report by CNN found.
According to the report, the average monthly occupancy at Trump’s DC hotel was only 50% through November 2017 compared to 77% occupancy reported at other luxury hotels in Washington. That figure was based on a survey of nearly two-dozen hotels by the research firm STR.
While CNN was unable to obtain data on Trump International Hotel’s overall profitability throughout the year, it did find that room rates were considerably higher than the industry standard in the same market. While competitors charged on average about $334 per night for a room, the Trump Organization, which leases the building from the U.S. government, charged an average of $559.
Nightly rates at the hotel increased during Trump’s presidential inauguration last year, and over the next four months, the hotel generated a $2 million profit, CNN said. We know this because the federal government accidentally posted the information online last August.
While the report said that charging more for lower occupancy is indeed a strategy for some lodging operators, it is uncommon for new hotels. One can assume that it wouldn’t be difficult to find clients willing to pay a higher price to, I don’t know, gain influence over the hotel’s owner, who just happens to be the president of the United States.
CNN laid it out as follows:
A Trump business rents the building that houses the Trump hotel from the General Services Administration. The GSA oversees the 60-year lease, which Trump signed two years before he began his presidential campaign. As President, he now oversees the GSA, which effectively gives the tenant control of the landlord.
To address potential conflicts of interest—because Trump hasn’t really divested of his companies—one of his lawyers announced at the start of the administration that Trump would donate all profits the hotel generated from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. But, surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
A hotel spokesperson told CNN that more financial reporting would be available sometime next month. Mark your calendars, but don’t hold your breath.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit against Trump for violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses appeared to gain some traction this week after a federal judge in Maryland expressed skepticism over an attempt by Justice Department attorneys to have the case dismissed, The New York Times reported.
The federal complaint, argued by the attorneys general of DC and Maryland, accuses the Trump International Hotel of diverting business and depriving revenue from other businesses that DC and Maryland “license, tax or own,” the Times said.
The judge in this case, Peter J. Messitte, “seemed to already be considering what remedies might be in order should he allow the case to proceed, although both sides anticipate that any decision he made would be appealed,” according to the report.