|By Douglas Hanks III, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jun. 7, 2006 - When Donald Trump opens his new hotel in Fort Lauderdale, he expects to face a formidable competitor down the beach: himself.
The celebrity developer will affix his name to both the Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale, at 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., and the Trump Las Olas Beach Resort, at 525 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
A Trump spokeswoman said the two condo-hotels, separated by 2.2 miles, will sit closer than any other Trump projects in the United States outside New York, where the reality-TV star has 11 towers.
The proximity prompts the question: Will Trump wind up trumping Trump in Fort Lauderdale?
That is, does the world's most famous real estate mogul have enough drawing power to keep two hotels on the same beach profitable?
"In traditional hotel circles, if I open a new Westin, I absolutely make sure I have a radius restricting any other Westin from opening up," said Gregory Rumpel, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in Coral Gables. "You put two hotels up side by side, it's confusing for the market."
But since both Fort Lauderdale hotels are being developed as condo-hotels -- with the rooms sold off to individual owners -- Rumpel said Trump's strategy makes sense.
Developers of condo-hotel projects make the majority of their profits upfront by selling units.
Although they then split hotel revenues with unit owners, the profits from sales would give Trump an incentive to pursue multiple projects even if they eventually cause some marketing headaches for the hotels.
"This is not about the hotel operations," Rumpel said. "This is about the real estate."
Both the 24-story Trump International and the 12-story Trump Las Olas are set to open in 2008 and will target the same five-star customers. But Trump spokeswoman Jill Cremer said the differences between the two projects will give them each their own niche.
"One has 300 units with large-scale amenities -- large restaurant, a big pool deck and a big health club," she said. "The smaller is only 95 units, very boutique, very intimate. . . . We didn't feel there was any competition among the two."
The Las Olas project -- which sits about half a mile from the end of Las Olas Boulevard -- was initially conceived as the Trump International Beach Club, with the smaller property serving as an "off shoot" of the larger one, Cremer said.
But once Bayrock Group, the New York-based minority partner common to both projects, wound up with different developers backing the two hotels, the decision was made to give the smaller property a more distinct identity, she said.
Even without two properties on the same street, Tuesday's official announcement of the Trump Las Olas Beach Resort might raise questions of brand saturation.
This week the fifth season of Trump's show, The Apprentice, finished with its lowest ratings yet, and the mogul is currently selling Trump branded golf clubs, business suits, cologne, bottled water and home loans.
Locally, Trump has affixed his name to condominium and hotel projects in Hollywood and Sunny Isles Beach, where a cluster of buildings bear Trump's name.
But developers and real estate brokers say Trump's star power has proven a sales magnet, particularly among foreign buyers.
"His name is like magic. South Americans are crazy about him," said Eugene Kessler, the retiring Turnberry Associates partner who is building the Trump Las Olas. As with many of Trump's real estate deals, Kessler said the Trump Organization has no money in the venture; instead Kessler pays a licensing fee to use Trump's name.
Francis Nardozza, who runs a Fort Lauderdale investment firm specializing in hotel deals, thinks having two Trump hotels on the beach will "be a little bit confusing for people to figure out which one they're booking, and why they're choosing one and not the other."
Even so, he noted Fort Lauderdale's most famous hotels sit a mile away from each other on the beachfront: the Sheraton Yankee Trader and the Sheraton Yankee Clipper.
"I don't think it's too much" Trump, he said.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Miami Herald
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