Trump’s hotels are doomed — so he’s focused on ‘monetizing politics’: WaPo reporter
Donald Trump (center) stands between his daughter Tiffany (left) and wife Melania (right) at the opening for Trump International Hotel in DC. Image via screengrab.

Donald Trump's name has become so polarizing that he can no longer survive in the hotel business, according to Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, an expert on the former president's financial dealings.

Fahrenthold pointed to the Trump Organization's recent decision to sell the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

"It was losing millions and millions of dollars," Fahrenthold told the newspaper's Post Reports podcast on Wednesday. "I think they recognize that you cannot make it in Washington, especially with as expensive a hotel as that is, as big of a loan as that hotel has, you can't make it on one slice of the pie. You can't make it just on Republicans."

He noted that Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, "literally set up his office in the restaurant" of the hotel, adding that "a bunch of other Republicans practically live there."

"It's not enough," he said. "To make that kind of hotel at that luxury level work in Washington, you need everybody. You need embassies and you need conventions. You can't have a polarized audience. So that's them admitting, we can't make this work. ... It's the kind of place that could do really well — it's got a great location — but not (with the) Trump (name).'"

Asked whether the Trump brand still has any value, or is more of a liability, Fahrenthold noted that in addition to hotels, the company has two other main types of brick-and-mortar businesses: Golf courses and office space.

"The golf courses, there is some sort of future," he said. "Trump goes to those places. People who golf are people who like Trump. There's not a lot of overhead. ... I don't think the Trump golf empire has any long-term problems."

But he added that the company has "had a lot of trouble" with office buildings, noting recent reports about Trump Tower in New York City.

As for hotels, Fahrenthold noted that the Trump Organization doesn't own many.

"They've always had a structural disadvantage, because you can get Marriott points or Hilton points, or you can get your Trump card points, which you can use at three other hotels," he said. "They've always had that kind of structural disadvantage being a small chain. Now they've polarized their audience. I don't see that as a long-term venue for the Trump Organization. The Trump hotel in DC, if they can't make it here with that beautiful building, I don't really see how they can make it anywhere."

Going forward, Fahrenthold predicted that the Trump Organization will "collapse the parts of their business that aim at the general public."

"The idea that the Trump brand is something that brings in the general public, that demands a premium from the general public above a Hilton or a Marriott, I think that's over, and they'll shrink that part of the brand and focus on ways they can monetize politics," he said. "They're doing that now. They have the whole T-Shirt and tchotchke shop online where you can buy Don Jr.'s book, and a MAGA hat, and an $85 candle that says 'Trump' on the side."

"There's that, and then there's this new digital venture, that are meant to monetize Trump's fans," Fahrenthold said, referring to Trump's new Truth Social platform.