MIAMI — Like other luxury resorts, Trump National Doral offers parched guests a refreshing, fruity drink when they check in.
But here at “the greatest golf resort in the United States,” as owner and soon-to-be president Donald Trump describes it, the water is marquee.
“Trump Virgin Mojito Water,” the label says. Nearby, there is a portrait of the water’s namesake, in which he points at guests with a “you’re fired” expression on his face.
Trump’s 643-room, five-course retreat might be a warm escape this time of year for wealthy golfers up north, but there is no escaping Trump — his name, face and tastes — here or at his company’s other resorts, hotels and condominiums around the world.
Staying at Trump means staying with Trump.
At Doral, guests see Trump in the shower with Trump shampoo and Trump conditioner. The shower head, like other resort furnishings, is his preferred color: gold. In the pro shop, framed magazine covers of Trump hang on the walls, including one from Playboy that features The Donald with an attractive woman who is not Melania.
“People know Trump’s brand is Trump,” said Laura Bates, a branding consultant who used to help oversee Marriott International’s brands. “His properties are linked to him.”
He makes sure of it. And he makes sure guests know he makes sure of it.
While Trump may have to delegate more in the Oval Office, that has hardly been his approach in curating the culture of his dozens of properties, demanding certain furnishings and round-the-clock spa attendants and valets, according to developers who have worked with him.
Trump sits for hours with architects and designers, instinctively pointing to what he likes and doesn’t like. A video in Doral guest rooms shows him looking over renderings with his daughter Ivanka.
And he does it on paper, in lengthy contracts that govern standards developers need to uphold to license Trump’s name on properties his company doesn’t own.
A contract for a failed luxury condo and hotel project in Mexico obtained by The Washington Post stipulated that the developer provide plans for “the interior signage, interior design (including, without limitation, lobbies, hallways and other common areas), and (jii) all furniture, fixtures, equipment and appliances, to Licensor.”
To make sure potential buyers or guests see that Trump is involved — or appears to be involved — Trump’s contracts typically stipulate that he or one of his children will visit during construction. (The contract for the Mexico project required that Trump and his family be provided with “first-class travel and miscellaneous expenses.”)
Gil Dezer, a Miami developer who licensed Trump’s name for six beachfront condo towers, said Trump “swooped in” one day to meet with designers.
“He fell in love with this green marble from a Brazilian rain forest,” Dezer said. “It was super-duper expensive, but we got it. He has his tastes and knows what he wants.”
What is Trump’s taste?
“That’s a tough question,” Dezer said. “I’m not so good at coming up with adjectives.”
Opulent, say some reviewers. Gaudy, say others.
Another way of putting it: very gold.
Just like guests can’t escape Trump’s face or name, they also cannot escape Trump’s near addiction with the color. It dominates the decor in many of his properties. “Lobby elevator . . . gold,” a reviewer on TripAdvisor wrote of Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas, where the entire outside facade is, of course, gold.
At his Doral resort, the wide frames around the bed headboards are gold. The bathroom fixtures are gold, too. The caps on the shower soaps — gold. Trump’s company has shared a photo of a ballroom at his new hotel in the District with gold chairs, gold patterns in the carpet, and gold wall decorations.
Design and brand experts say all the gold seems to scream, as one of his tweets would put it, “SUCCESS! THE BEST! THIS IS LUXURY!”
“Trump is about success and showing it,” said Bates, the former Marriott executive. “He thinks about everything big and grand. Gold is symbolic to him of success and money and wealth.”
Gold as a decorative color is old fashioned — like ancient Egyptian old fashioned. It was King Louis XIV’s go-to decor. Just looking for a few minutes at online photos of the gold at Versailles is enough to sear one’s eyeballs. Saddam Hussein and other modern dictators have decorated with it, too.
Trump’s taste in gold was heavily influenced by Angelo Donghia, the late Italian designer who designed Trump’s Fifth Avenue penthouse, which has gold railings, a gold-leaf ceiling, gold couches, gold pillow covers and gold chairs, among other gold. Donghia is remembered for his audacious 1970s style.
“Naturally, every surface of the home shimmers like liquid gold,” Architectural Digest wrote last year. “Donghia designed a mirrored box where Trump’s opulence was on full display.”
Trump’s golden ethos came up recently (and not positively) in a rather unlikely place — a story in the Atlantic about “Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court,” an exhibition about the 1700s gilder at the Frick Collection.
Charlotte Vignon, the exhibition’s curator, was not available to speak with The Post about Trump, a museum spokeswoman said. However, she told the Atlantic that in the 18th century, gold furnishings were “an expression of cutting-edge craftsmanship. When it is not new and it is only an expression of power, it’s not interesting.”
Vignon assessed Trump’s use of gold in his properties.
“I think Trump is using objects like that to express power,” she said, “but without taste and refinement.”
On Trump’s over-the-top scale, nothing weighs in more than Mar-a-Lago, his home-away-from-home mansion and private club on 17 acres near the ocean in Palm Beach, Fla.
Marjorie Merriweather Post built it in the 1920s. With more than 100 ornate rooms, Post entertained society figures and held lavish affairs. The home’s living room is itself the size of a large home — so large, in fact, that Post reportedly used up all of the country’s gold leaf decorating it.
Post died in 1973 and left the property to the federal government, which sold it to Trump in 1985 for $8 million. Trump restored the property and since then it has hosted frequent charity events and parties thrown by the rich and famous. There is a no-denim policy.
For Jack McDonald, former mayor of Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago was the place he would bring foreign dignitaries and other people he wanted to impress.
“It’s just an incredible place to bring people to,” McDonald said. “I’m told there are more Spanish tiles there than the Alhambra in Spain.”
Thirty-six thousand tiles, Trump’s company says.
Trump’s representatives declined to give The Post a tour, but Caroline Taylor — wife of singer James Taylor — reviewed Mar-a-Lago last year for Vanity Fair. Taylor was singing at a charity event there.
“I felt like James Bond during the part of the movie when he can’t help but be a bit seduced by the opulence of the villain’s fabulous enclave,” she wrote. “The Mar-a-Lago staff was gracious, kind, and always at attention.”
The lifelong Democrats enjoyed their stay. The thread count on the sheets numbered 500.
“To reach the shore, a tunnel connected the croquet court to the beach club and beyond,” Taylor wrote.
Barron’s Macaroni was on the menu at one of Mar-a-Lago’s restaurants.
“It’s named after Donald Trump’s son,” Taylor told her 15-year-old twin sons, one of whom replied, “well, it probably stinks.”
But after trying it, the boys declared they liked it — a common refrain among travelers to Trump’s properties.
“We did not know what to expect from a Trump property (never been in one before),” a reviewer on TripAdvisor recently wrote about the Doral resort. “Worried a bit about possible tackiness, but we were pleasantly surprised.”
The reviewer did have a couple of quibbles.
“Our room was very large (good), but the space between the bed and the TV was totally empty (like 150-200 sq ft) except for a tiny armchair,” the review said. “Clearly there should have been some sofa and a coffee table.”
Also the “espresso capsules, although abundant, were a (presumably) Chinese knock-off with a Trump seal.”