When Donald Trump assumes office this month, his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago will become the holiday retreat of the U.S. President.
But the sprawling Palm Beach property is a far cry from George W. Bush’s Texas ranch or George H.W. Bush’s Maine beachfront home. While past presidential holiday homes were secluded, Mar-a-Lago is a 118-room club teeming with paying members who now have a chance to chat with the most powerful man in the world.
“It’s like going to Disneyland and knowing Mickey Mouse will be there all day long,” Miami developer Jeff Greene, a club member, told the New York Times.
When Trump rang in the new year with an opulent party at Mar-a-Lago, club members and their friends could join for as little as $500. Among the attendees were Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. and MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
Observers expect Trump to frequently retreat to Mar-a-Lago as president. “Mar-a-Lago is an environment he can control,” said historian Douglas Brinkley. “I watched him hold court — he was so comfortable in his own skin, and so relaxed.”
Ironically, when Mar-a-Lago’s first owner Marjorie Meriweather Post died in 1973, she left the estate to the federal government hoping it would become a vacation home for Presidents. But the government wasn’t interested, and later Trump bought it. [NYT] — Konrad Putzier