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Brendan Buhler

A 'golden moment' for the Trump International Hotel & Tower

14 April 2008

Conveniently located across the street from the Deja Vu Love Boutique and just up the road from the Elvis-O-Rama memorabilia museum, the new Trump International Hotel & Tower is the soul of class, cast in bronze, dipped in gold, placed on a marble pedestal and surrounded by mirrors.


Which is to say, it and Donald Trump belong here.

For one, the gold-clad tower looks like a slice of Mandalay Bay. For another, well, there's the lobby, which is an exercise in more gold, mirrors, showers of crystal and acres of ankle-twisting-slick marble. Beyond that, there's the disarming modesty in the giant, illuminated "TRUMP" on the 64-story, 1,282-suite building and the restaurant named with his initials, DJT.

And judging by the reception he got Friday morning at the second opening of the building (this was the ribbon-cutting one), we seem to want him here.

A good many developers and real estate agents and a couple of local politicians have shown up, many of them wearing ties as pink as Trump's own. They sip champagne and Trump-brand water while brunching on oysters, soup shots, raw meat on spoons and mini-cheeseburgers. Everyone talks about real estate deals and Trump.

What can be said about Trump that hasn't already been said in the five-page biography handed out with the press kit, the one that describes him as "a schoolboy's dream"?

Well, there's the famous hair, from under which the Donald emerges like a hungry wolf eel.

(About the hair: We're not going to be able to explain the follicular Bermuda Triangle that is Trump's hair, not today. All we'll note is that, up close it looks real, but also combed forward. You do what you have to do at age 61.)

And, as was already mentioned, he wears a pink tie (his own brand).

At 11:05, Trump is preceded to the small stage by Misses Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Universe and Teen USA. "Apprentice" winner Stefanie Schaeffer introduces Trump, which causes the guests to raises their glasses of Veuve Clicquot and cheer. Trump takes the stage, points to the perfectly practiced beauty queens and says, "Isn't that nice? You're going to get some more of that tonight."

He goes on to brag that his eponymous condo tower is "defining luxury in Las Vegas" and is "virtually" sold out.

He introduces his good, good friend and partner Phil Ruffin, a billionaire last seen wearing chinos and a polo shirt, plucking nickels off the carpet at the New Frontier before he sold it for $1.2 billion. Now he's in business with Trump and dressed in a tailored suit, wearing sunglasses inside and joined by his new wife, Oleksandra, Miss Ukraine 2001. Oleksandra Ruffin (ne Nikolayenko) has also participated in the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant. The couple were wed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

After Trump crows about "The Apprentice," Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a couple of blocks outside his city, takes the podium, also wearing a pink Trump-brand tie. He says Trump's building is "as beautiful a place as one could ever imagine," and he's thrilled to welcome "a gentleman of his magnitude."

Next up is Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who declares that "Donald Trump is good for Vegas" — and so, by the way, are Phil Ruffin and Oscar Goodman. She says Trump's development is a spot of good news amid the mortgage foreclosure crisis, the mention of which makes Trump grimace.

Berkley says that as a congresswoman she has the pleasure of recognizing people with certificates and she has brought one for Trump.

"I can't imagine anyone I would rather give a Certificate of Congressional Recognition to," she says.

"I'd rather she got us out of the war in Iraq," Trump says.

"I'd rather she tell Hillary and Barack not to raise taxes in a recession," Ruffin says.