Here’s What It Costs to Take a Vacation at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort
While most of us will probably never attend an extravagant event at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, we still wonder what an evening at the Palm Beach, Florida, golf club would cost. The answer, of course, depends on whether you’re a club member. But it’s safe to say partying at such a posh resort doesn’t come cheap. Find out more about Mar-a-lago — and see whether you can afford membership (page 4).
The history of Mar-a-Lago
Trump was not the original owner of the Mar-a-Lago estate. It was built in the 1920s by Marjorie Merriweather Post, a businesswoman and philanthropist. Post and her husband already had a large mansion to live in, but she wanted something bigger to suit her entertaining needs. Despite her extravagant tastes, Post wasn’t looked down on for her money — in fact, she never hesitated to help others, and many called her the most generous woman they had ever known.
After Post’s death in 1973, the cost of the upkeep of Mar-a-Lago became too much to handle for the Federal Government (to which Post had willed it). Donald Trump offered the Post family $25 million for it (according to him), but they rejected him. Trump then purchased the property between Mar-a-Lago and the ocean, threatening to build a house there that would block their views. He eventually bought Mar-a-Lago in 1985 for a mere $8 million, which got him the property along with its impressive furnishings and antiques.
Next: How Trump turned things around
From private residence to private golf club
Trump promptly renovated his new estate, adding a 20,000 square foot ballroom and some other finishing touches. And despite some financial difficulties faced by Trump in the 1990s, Mar-a-Lago grew into a successful golf resort. This is partially due to the fact that, unlike other “old money” resorts in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago accepted Jews, black people, and other minorities as members.
Mar-a-Lago has hosted concerts by Celine Dion and Billy Joel, among others. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley spent their honeymoon there. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to visit Mar-a-Lago, although it doesn’t hurt.
Next: The luxurious amenities
The resort features
Mar-a-Lago is a beachfront resort, and being by the ocean itself is a huge selling point. In addition to enjoying access to pristine private beaches, the property boasts the world class Trump Spa and Salon, European indoor and terrace dining, an oceanfront pool, six championship tennis courts, a full size croquet court, a chip and putt golf course, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and two ballrooms, the White and Gold Ballroom, and the sumptuous Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom.
There is also an on-property Beach Club that has eight seaside cabanas, a 100-foot-by-50-foot pool, a whirlpool, and the beachfront Bistro, all complemented by a full-service private beach and a breathtaking view.
Next: The cost
Of course, the “easiest” way to visit Mar-a-Lago is to become a member. Membership has numerous benefits, such as the use of the formal and casual dining areas, the Trump Spa and Salon, the pool, the Beach Club, the fitness center, and gorgeous state-of-the-art suites, just to name a few. But it will cost you a fortune: A $200,000 initiation fee to be exact, plus $15,000 in annual dues. Oh, and if you’d like to spend the night, you’ll have to pay an extra $2,000.
Next: Who are the members?
Who can afford a membership?
Obviously, those membership fees are too rich for most Americans’ blood. However, since the Presidential election, interest in Mar-a-Lago membership has skyrocketed. But the club only admits a handful of new members each year, and currently there are only about 500.
Next: How to have an event at Mar-a-Lago
Hosting an event at Mar-a-Lago
Non-members are welcome to hold their private events, such as weddings and birthday parties, at Mar-a-Lago. In fact, the resort seems to have all the amenities one would dream of for an elegant affair: A grand ballroom, onsite catering, lavish guest rooms, a salon and spa, and much more. The cost will vary depending on your party’s size and amenities, but be prepared to shell out some serious cash.
Next: Pay to party
Those glamorous parties
Partying with Donald Trump (or at least at the place where he parties) has never been cheap, and the cost has been increasing since he assumed his role as president. Tickets for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration cost $600 for members and $750 for their guests. Last year’s tickets sold for for $525 for members and $575 for guests.
Next: Friends in high places
Who can go?
As you may have guessed, you’ll have to be a member to enjoy all the benefits of Mar-a-Lago, unless you’re lucky enough to know a member. Members are allowed to bring a certain number of guests, but some restrictions apply … and for the parties and suites, you’ll have to pay to stay.
Next: Worth the price of admission?
But is it worth it?
So what do $600 and $750 get you, besides the privilege of ringing in the new year with a sitting president? A lot, apparently. Guests of Mar-a-Lago’s New Year’s Eve party were treated to a grand red carpet entrance to the ballroom, a four course meal that included lobster and the Trump Iceberg Wedge Salad, live music from cover band Party on the Moon, and a welcoming speech by the president. Baseball legend Keith Hernandez, Fox News Business host Lou Dobbs, and Sylvester Stallone were in attendance as well.
Next: The rules and regulations
Of course, there are some new safety measures in place for members of Mar-a-Lago now that Trump is the president (and there so frequently). When Trump or his family members are there, members and their guests must go through Secret Service checkpoints and leave their knives, laser pointers, pepper spray, and any other items deemed to be a safety hazard at home.
Next: It’s not always fun when Trump is there.
There’s another rule in place when the president is at Mar-a-Lago: Members can only bring two guests onto the property. All the added rules and restrictions, as well as the presence of the Secret Service, are enough to keep members away when Trump is there.
“We plan not to be there when he’s there,” one longtime member told Politico. “When he’s there, it’s a mess.”
Next: Stay out of the kitchen.
Mar-a-Lago made headlines in 2017 when it was announced that the kitchen was slapped with 13 health violations. A few of them were categorized as “high priority,” meaning they could directly lead to foodborne illness. One was for serving undercooked seafood that not undergone proper parasite destruction. Yikes.
Next: Is Mar-a-Lago overrated?
Other negative reports
If you don’t know anyone who has visited Mar-a-Lago but you’re curious, you can always check out the online reviews. While TripAdvisor removed Mar-a-Lago from their site last year, Yelp reviews are current — and Yelp monitors them closely, removing any review that isn’t based on firsthand experience. While there are some positive reviews, most of the comments aren’t great.
“Yeah I get that it’s problematic, politically right now, but mostly I wish their ugly toilets flushed and the horrific seashell decor was properly dusted,” writes Merrill L. on Yelp. “Literally the tackiest most overpriced case of smoke and mirrors. The employees are miserable and the food is not worth the overall price of the club,” added Yelp reviewer Conner.
Next: It’s not all bad.
Some positive press
Of course, not all reports are bad. A Business Insider article from November 2016 goes into detail about what a stay at Mar-a-Lago is like, and the grounds seem pretty impressive. James Taylor, the famous singer-songwriter (and a Democrat), spent a week there with his wife and children to perform at a charity gala on the property. He and his wife were very impressed, calling it one of the most exotic, larger-than-life hotels they’d ever visited.
Next: You can buy a house … or become a Mar-a-Lago member.
The bottom line
Vacationing at the winter White House costs more than practically any other vacation on Earth (or a trip to outer space, most likely). If you’re serious about a Mar-a-Lago membership, after the initiation fee, annual dues, one total week staying in the suites, and the cost of the New Year’s Eve party, you’ll have to shell out $229,600. And if you want to go when Trump is there, you’ll have to be diligent about the restrictions and leave most of your guests behind.
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