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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

An inside look at the Trump Tower: Lots of luxe

31 March 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- When the Trump International Hotel & Tower officially opens Monday, don't expect to see crowds of would-be gamblers hoping to hit the Megabucks jackpot or for the dealer to bust.

There isn't a slot machine or blackjack table within a half-mile of the 64-story luxury resort.

Instead, the public areas of the $1.2 billion Trump International are populated with ornate chandeliers, gold-accented features and enough Italian marble to decorate half of Rome.

Upstairs, Trump International's lavishly furnished 1,282 studio, one-bedroom and penthouse suites carry some of the highest single-night room rates on the Strip, starting at $349 and increasing depending upon location in the building and size of the unit.

"I think this is the highest level of luxury for any hotel in the world," said New York real estate developer Donald Trump, who is not known for understatement. "I'm excited to be part of Las Vegas. I didn't want to own a casino. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to capture that ultimate sense of luxury."

Trump isn't scheduled to be in Las Vegas on Monday, but plans to participate in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting April 11.

The Trump International, on Fashion Show Drive behind the former New Frontier site, is a founding hotel in the newly launched Trump Hotel Collection, a brand that will compete with luxury hotel companies nationally and internationally. The hotel joins the Trump International in New York City and the recently opened Trump International in Chicago.

Trump hotel brands will open in the SoHo area of New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu in 2009. Openings in 2010 are slated for Toronto and New Orleans, and locales in Panama, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Scotland and Dubai.

"It's the power of the brand and it's the power of the name," Trump said.

Trump International Las Vegas is a combination condominium tower and hotel. Owners have the option of placing their units in the Trump reservation system and sharing in revenues generated from rentals. Steve Shalit, vice president and managing director of the hotel side, said he suspects more than 75 percent of the units will eventually become part of the hotel reservation program.

Shalit said about 100 of the Trump units will be rented out by Monday. A unit can't be placed into the reservation system until its owner officially takes possession. Stefanie Schaeffer, vice president of the condominium side, said owners are closing on units daily.

"What's exciting is that we're creating a hotel brand with family involvement," Shalit said. "(Trump's) name is on the building and the whole family is very involved, from selecting the uniforms, the furnishings and from a design standpoint."

Don Marrandino, president of Harrah's Las Vegas and the Flamingo, worked for Trump early in his career in Atlantic City. He purchased a one-bedroom unit as an investment. Marrandino, who closed on the unit this month, expects to list his condominium in the Trump reservation system.

"I believe in the investment and I believe in the Trump name," Marrandino said. "I walked in and saw it the other night. I'm really happy with the finishings and the views."

Shalit expects Trump International to have its highest hotel rates during busy Las Vegas events and large trade shows, New Year's, and the National Finals Rodeo. In addition to the Trump Collection reservation system, Trump International units will be listed on the various travel Web sites.

Shalit, who joined the project in July 2006, and Schaeffer, who became a Trump Organization employee after winning the reality television series, "The Apprentice," showed off portions of the hotel this week.

Since it does not have a casino, the entire property is nonsmoking. Also, hotel guests will be charged $14 a day for parking if they bring their own vehicle.

"We're really a cab and limousine market," Shalit said. "We'll make sure our guests get to where they want to be."

The tower, which is wrapped in 24-karat gold glass, offers views of the Strip, downtown and the mountains. Floors 16 through 59 contain 28 units each, 20 studios and eight one-bedrooms. Floors 60 through 64 hold the penthouses, some as large as 3,000 square feet. All of the units include full kitchens and high-end furnishings.

Guests are also invited to use the large pool deck, a 1,500-square-foot health club and have access to the property's 10,0000-square-foot spa. Trump International has 2,400 square feet of meeting space. The property will employ 600 workers.

DJT, the hotel's signature restaurant, also opens Monday. The executive chef is Joe Isidori, former chef at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Construction of Trump International began in July 2005. The project, which Trump jointly owns with former New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin, was completed four months ahead of schedule. A second 64-story tower is planned for the site, but Trump said construction would not begin for at least a year.