|By Amanda Finnegan, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 13, 2011--It's an unlikely scene at a Las Vegas luxury hotel. A guest with two fluffy white dogs enters the Trump Las Vegas after an afternoon walk and no one balks. A family with kids in tow, pulling along rolling suitcases adorned with cartoon characters, arrives at the hotel's valet.
Inside Trump Las Vegas, there's no chirping of slot machines and there's no pervasive smell of smoke. There's also no nightclub and there's not a string of posh restaurants with a roster of celebrity chefs.
It might not be the ideal scene for the typical Las Vegas customer who is coming to party and gamble, but it's a niche market the Trump is trying to fill: a family-friendly Las Vegas luxury hotel.
Where some might see the Trump's lack of gaming or off-the-Strip location as a drawback, Marshall Davenport, director of sales and marketing, said they see it as a selling point.
"Because we are nonsmoking and nongaming, parents don't have to worry about the kids running off or going into the casino or all the crowds. That's one of our biggest features and that's how we try to market the hotel," Davenport said.
The family market is a segment that Trump International Hotels has been going after for years, Davenport said. The company developed the Trump Kids program, offering amenities such as children's books, suggested nanny services and a list of child-friendly attractions in Las Vegas. The hotel's restaurant, DJT (named for Donald J. Trump), has a kid's menu and even kiddie cocktails, sans alcohol of course.
Where other Las Vegas resort gift shops might sell bikinis and booze, the gift shop off the Trump pool deck sells goggles, swimmies and pool diapers. Outside, kids are splashing in the pool while adults lounge around the edge. No one seems to mind.
The hotel is trying to cater to everyone in the family -- even pets. All of Trump's hotel rooms allow small dogs, but not without a price. The cost to bring your dog for a stay at Trump is $200.
Trump also goes as far as offering couples massages for dogs and their owners for $150 for 30 minutes. If anything, it's something that sets it apart from nearby luxury hotels like Wynn Las Vegas, Encore and Palazzo.
The $1.3 billion Trump tower opened in March 2008 in the midst of the luxury boom on the Strip, and like other hotel-condo projects that opened during the recession, things didn't go as planned.
Trump hoped to sell the tower's 1,282 suites as residences, along with suites in a second tower that never broke ground, but the real estate market crashed and only 339 of the units has closed so far. Now, the tower is mainly leaning on its leisure travel business.
The tower's original plan has benefited hotel guests. All of Trump's rooms are stocked with full kitchens, which include stoves, microwaves and Sub-Zero fridges, dining areas and pullout sofas. Rooms start at $119 on weekdays and $189 on weekends in July and August, according to rates on Trump's website.
But Trump Las Vegas has dealt with some struggles aside from condo sales. Since the hotel opened, misconceptions and questions among locals have swirled about what that golden tower is next to Fashion Show mall. Is it a hotel or condo tower -- or both? What's there to do at the hotel? And is there even a reason to go?
"I think it's because some locals have never ventured over here," Davenport said. "Maybe they think it's just a condominium tower. They don't realize they can come here and have dinner. I think they just haven't explored what we have to offer, and that's what we are trying to do with new marketing. Word-of-mouth -- that's what we are trying to work on."
Davenport said marketing the hotel outside of locals has been the opposite experience. Guests who are familiar with the Trump brand through other cities know what to expect in Las Vegas, he said. The Las Vegas hotel also has the benefit of being able to pull from a client base of guests who stay at other Trump properties around the world.
"Everyone knows the Trump brand," Davenport said. "They don't even have to second-guess what type of hotel it might be. You know exactly what you're getting."
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Copyright (c) 2011, Las Vegas Sun
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