In a message to members about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar-a-Lago said that in response to DeSantis’s order, it was closing the last parts of the club still in operation: the tennis club and the beach club. “We hope that this suspension is short-lived,” the club said. Mar-a-Lago is a wintertime club, which typically closes for the season around Mother’s Day.
Previously, Mar-a-Lago had been partially open, offering limited sit-down service at its beachfront bistro, according to a letter sent to members.
Before that, Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas was shuttered in response to a statewide order from Nevada’s governor. It will not reopen until April 17, the hotel told customers. Some employees at the hotel have already been laid off, according to a letter one employee received.
In New York, Trump’s hotel on Central Park remained open Friday, but the hotel warned its investors that “we cannot predict the duration of this unprecedented event; however, the hotel expects a significant shortfall in revenues,” according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
By late Thursday, 51 of the New York hotel’s 300-plus employees had been laid off, according to a person familiar with the Trump hotel’s operations. The person, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the organization’s operations.
“Various facilities are temporarily closed given local, state and federal mandates,” Trump Organization spokeswoman Kimberly Benza said in a statement. “We anxiously await the day when this pandemic is over and our world-class facilities can reopen.”
At the Trump International Hotel in Washington, the layoffs were even more drastic: 160 workers were let go, as the hotel’s occupancy rate plunged to about 5 percent, according to the union that represents the hotel’s employees.
Trump’s D.C. hotel remains open, despite the bar and restaurant being closed by a directive from the D.C. government and almost no guests staying there.
John Boardman, executive secretary-treasurer of the D.C. affiliate of Unite Here, said occupancy is about 5 percent and about 160 of his 174 workers he represents — including housekeepers, dishwashers and bellmen — have been laid off. He said the Trump Organization is “no different than anybody else except that they’re staying open, which amazes me.”
And at all of the company’s other large U.S. hotels — in Miami, Honolulu and Chicago — restaurants were either partially or entirely shut, cutting off a key stream of revenue.
The company does not release profit and loss information, so it is unclear what the downturn has meant to its bottom line.
The company has other lucrative investments in commercial buildings that will not be hurt immediately by the coronavirus. But many of the company’s largest — and most heavily indebted — businesses are dependent on a travel industry that is now largely shuttered, with no end in sight. Trump still owns his business empire, so its struggles could affect his personal wealth.
“He’s in leisure. He’s basically in the tourism business. And it’s an easy place for consumers to cut back,” said Tim O’Brien, a former journalist who wrote a biography of Trump. O’Brien recently served as an adviser to the now-ended presidential campaign of Democrat Mike Bloomberg.
Trump owns seven U.S. hotels, including three — in Washington, Miami and Chicago — with outstanding loans from Deutsche Bank. The original value of these loans was more than $300 million. Deutsche Bank declined to comment about the loans on Friday.
Trump says he has given day-to-day control of his businesses to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric. But his personal ownership puts him in an unprecedented position in this crisis: He is being asked for a federal bailout by the same industry that includes his own private businesses.
The hotel industry has asked the Trump administration for a massive infusion of aid, saying that the coronavirus’s impact on their industry has been bigger than “September 11th and the Great Recession of 2008 combined,” according to the president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
The Trump Organization has not responded to questions asking if it will seek federal-government assistance as part of any broader industry bailout. The White House did not respond to questions Friday.
As recently as early March, as Trump had downplayed the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, his businesses had largely followed suit. On March 7 and 8, Trump visited Mar-a-Lago for a weekend that included two GOP fundraisers, a birthday party for the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., and a visit from the Brazilian president. Three people at the club that weekend later tested positive for the virus.
In the days after, as officials began to urge “social distancing,” Trump’s hotel in Washington was advertising cheese night and discounts on facials at the spa, according to social media posts noted by journalist Zach Everson. Mar-a-Lago canceled its seafood buffet and closed for a one-day “deep cleaning,” then reopened.
But then, Trump’s clubs began to be affected by the decisions of outsiders. At Mar-a-Lago, the organizers of big charity events canceled. In Washington, the city ordered bars to close: On the last night at the Trump hotel’s bar, normally full of lobbyists, Republicans and Trump advisers, there was just one person in the lobby. The only noise was the music.
At the same time, the hotel business began to crater nationwide. The firm STR, which analyzes data from across the hotel industry, found occupancy rates last week were down 25 percent from the year before.
At the Trump hotel in Chicago, “everything came to a screeching halt,” in March, according to one person recently briefed on the hotel’s fortunes. After an unusually busy January and February, occupancy dropped. Customers canceled events as far out as June, the person said. The bar and restaurant were shut due to government orders, the person said.
Then, entire Trump properties began to shut down. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J., closed. Then, on Thursday, Trump’s Los Angeles County golf course closed on Friday, after the county ordered nonessential businesses to close. In Las Vegas, Trump’s hotel said it would also close, per an order from the governor, until April 17.
The day before, some hotel employees received an email from managing director Brian Baudreau. “If you are receiving this letter, your employment has been changed to temporary layoff status,” the letter said, according to a copy obtained by The Post. Baudreau did not respond to an email from The Post.
One nonsalaried employee in the hotel’s food and beverage department said his manager told him he would receive nothing.
“Zero, nothing,” said the employee, who said he had been at the hotel for more than a decade. “We live paycheck to paycheck,” said the employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relationships in the hotel business. “We’re screwed.”
On Friday, with shutdowns only increasing, one Trump property was trying to make the most of the situation. Trump’s golf course in the Bronx wrote on Twitter that golfers could still play there: “The golf course is a great place to relieve stress and exercise social distancing.”
But only for two more days. Later in the day, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) ordered all nonessential businesses to close on Sunday.