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It has Trump written all over it

There's no gaming at the billionaire's new Vegas hotel, built in an out-of- the-way spot, but his luxury stamp is everywhere.

May 25, 2008|Valli Herman | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — With the opening of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas, New York developer Donald Trump is bringing another dose of bravado to a city that already swaggers with it. Trump's approach to luxury hospitality may be more gilded, exclusive and Manhattan-inspired, but it's no less bold.

Seven weeks ago, the guy opened a $1-billion hotel in Vegas without a casino. Madness. He built the thing off a lonely stretch of road behind the Fashion Show Mall. Insanity. He created his 64-story condo-hotel tower by selling the residential-style units to deed-holding investors, who may or may not add them to the hotel's rental pool. That's possibly brilliant -- or disastrous if sales of the units, priced from $700,000 to $5.6-million, continue to slow.

But he's added enough novel, indulgent features to warm jaded travelers and soothe frequently frazzled fliers. A white-gloved doorman ushers guests into a high-ceilinged lobby that shimmers with crystal, marble and golden trim and is continuously scented with a lightly floral fragrance. Guests are immediately offered a chilled bottle of water and a heated hand towel on individual trays. In half a minute, the elevator whisks them to the uppermost floors, where cozy but contemporary rooms offer vast views of the neon Strip or the golden sunset.

Trump leaves no doubt about his ambitions. The hotel's logo -- a T emblazoned across a map of the globe -- is woven into napkins, embossed onto coasters and stationery.

In case you forget

Trump is omnipresent: His name appears nearly three dozen times within the guest room, whether on his namesake magazine, a catalog for daughter Ivanka's jewelry collection or on the bath toiletries. He named the main restaurant with his initials, DJT, and put his favorite dishes on the menu (Mr. Trump's Butter Whipped Potato Puree, Mr. Trump's Butter Lettuce Salad). He installed his personal chef, Joe Isidori, at the helm of DJT, a grand restaurant of chandeliers, giant half-moon banquettes and inscrutable menu items. (Frozen goat cheese? Evaporated carrots?)

Moreover, plastered across a mirrored wall in H2(eau), the poolside restaurant, Trump spelled out his personal vision in capital letters: "As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big."

He does. Viewed from the side, the tower looks like a giant upside-down T, one that Trump crowned with his name in lights. With 1,282 rooms, it's not the largest hotel in Vegas, but it may be the biggest gamble.

Tranquillity isn't usually what brings the big-spending throngs to Vegas, but this no-smoking hotel is a serene oasis apart from the action on the Strip. The building sits alone behind a dusty vacant lot where the New Frontier hotel once stood and where a second tower may someday be built. To leave the hotel, guests must travel by car, traverse a rocky path without sidewalks and street lights or navigate through Nordstrom, which offers the nearest entrance to Fashion Show Mall across the street.

With the Wynn and the Palazzo as its luxury hotel neighbors, the Trump helps form a new Golden Triangle at the increasingly upscale northern end of the Strip. He's dressed the building to fit in with its rich friends -- in 24-karat-gold glass, we're told. He should have spent more on sound insulation: Sirens, freeway noise and train whistles came right into my 46th-floor room, loudly enough to wake me.

The studios, one-bedroom and penthouse suites, from 515 to 3,500 square feet, are outfitted with golden-hued, contemporary decor and brand-name kitchens. My studio came with a compact Sub-Zero refrigerator, a two-burner Wolf stove and enough Cuisinart tools and appliances to make breakfast or mix cocktails but not a full meal. Rack rates for studios begin at $349 and penthouses top out at $5,000, and at those prices (among the highest in Vegas), I don't necessarily want to lie in bed facing a microwave.

The studios, which comprise nearly three-quarters of the tower, make efficient use of space, however. A wall of built-in shelves, drawers, closets and cabinets contain the kitchen and flat-screen TV. On the opposite wall sit the king-size bed, nightstands, four lamps and a compact writing desk. The floor-to-ceiling windows are framed by a sleeper love seat, coffee table and two armchairs.

The bathroom is appropriately Trump-ified. A gigantic spa tub is big enough for two and surrounded by marble. Click the TV remote and, from within a mirror that stretches across two sinks, a foot-wide TV screen blinks to life. Cool.

Trump pops up again on the room service menu; you can order a $125 bottle of Trump vodka or Ivanka's $199 Caviar Breakfast for Two ($550 if you insist on Dom Perignon).

Personal service

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