The Mar-a-Lago private resort owned by the Trump Organization hiked its membership fees to $200,000 in January after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, a resort official said. CNBC, which first reported on the membership fee hike, said members also pay $14,000 in annual dues to the club, which covers 20 acres and features a private beach, beauty salon and ballroom in Palm Beach, Florida.
According to Reuters, "Fees had risen to $150,000 in June last year from $100,000 previously, said the official, who asked not to be named because she was not allowed to speak to the press. The fees then increased again effective January 1, 2017. Mar-a-Lago's website calls the club 'ultra-exclusive,' further noting that it boasts 'an elite lifestyle reserved for a select few.'" Trump, on the other hand, has described the property as his "Winter White House."
Shortly after the Mar-a-Lago membership fee hike was revealed, Barack Obama's former top ethics lawyer, Norm Eisen, told MSNBC that the increase is a "not very subtle exploitation of the fact that the club's figurehead is now president of the U.S." He continued on to note: "This type of naked profiteering off of a government office is what I would expect from King Louis XVI or his modern kleptocratic equivalents, not an American president."
Trump - who was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States last Friday - has been seeking to separate himself from his global business empire. He has resigned his position as CEO of the Trump Organization, putting his two sons in charge, according to his lawyers. He has also transferred his assets into a trust, but details of the trust and Trump's income from the company remain unclear.
What we do know is that in the days following Trump's inauguration, the head of his hotel-management company outlined hopes for an ambitious expansion across the U.S., raising new questions about potential conflicts between his business and the presidency.
Trump Hotels Chief Executive Officer Eric Danziger suggested the company’s broad U.S. ambitions while saying it shelved plans for expansion in China, where the president’s comments have already led to rocky diplomatic relations. “There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S., and we’re in five,” Danziger said after a panel discussion Tuesday at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles. “I don’t see any reason that we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”