Trump’s Doonbeg resort ‘did not profit’ from presidential visit

US protocol means Clare hotel had to charge ‘close to cost’ for White House entourage

Donald Trump jnr and Eric Trump  in Doonbeg, Co Clare, last month. Businesses in the village have reported a surge in interest from visitors as a result of US president Donald Trump’s June visit. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Donald Trump jnr and Eric Trump in Doonbeg, Co Clare, last month. Businesses in the village have reported a surge in interest from visitors as a result of US president Donald Trump’s June visit. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The Co Clare golf resort owned by Donald Trump was not permitted to profit from rooms taken by the presidential entourage during his visit last month, the resort’s manager has said.

Reflecting on Mr Trump’s visit one month ago, Joe Russell, managing director of Trump Doonbeg, said the resort must follow US government protocol and a strict mandate for visits by Mr Trump and his family to ensure “we do not make a profit from the presidency”.

“Rooms are all at rates that are very low to ensure that that doesn’t happen. Within the company we do have to report back on those various visits,” he said.

“As it relates to the direct business that came in, we are not permitted to profit from any business, so White House, Secret Service – any rooms like that – are all at rooms that are close to cost.”

Mr Russell put the bill for the rounds of drinks purchased by Mr Trump’s sons, Donald jnr and Eric, during their pub crawl around Doonbeg’s five bars at “above €2,000”, which, he says, was paid for by the resort.

“It came out of this business, which is ultimately coming out of their business,” he said.

The resort had seen an increase in “day callers” dropping in for tea or coffee or wanting their photograph taken with the Trump Doonbeg sign or clock at the resort but there has not yet been an increase in room bookings as a result, he said.

‘Trump bump’

“I wouldn’t say a ‘Trump bump’ just yet. It is high season – we are busy and it should be busy,” he said.

The resort was benefiting from an increase in business from the Irish Open golf tournament in nearby Lahinch, which finished on Sunday, and being on the Wild Atlantic Way, the popular tourist trail that runs along the west coast.

A US media report last month sourced to investigative news outlet ProPublica said that a payment of almost $11,000 (€9,752) was made by the US state department to Mr Trump’s Doonbeg resort since 2017 without saying when the specific payment was made.

Another ProPublica report said the US Secret Service paid $27,724 to Doonbeg for a visit by Eric Trump in March 2017.

Businesses in Doonbeg have reported a surge in interest from visitors as a result of Mr Trump’s visit.

Hugh McNally, owner of Morrissey’s pub, said the visit had brought welcome business and publicity at a time when the hospitality sector was struggling from last year’s four-point increase in the VAT rate and fewer British visitors as a result of Brexit.

“The Trump visit was a blessing in disguise. If we didn’t have the visit, we would be down a hell of a lot more,” he said.

Moneygall

It made Doonbeg “the most famous village in Clare, if not the wider country”, he said, likening it to the attention Moneygall enjoyed after the visit of US president Barack Obama.

“The feedback we are getting from people coming into the pub is ‘we saw you on the news’ or ‘is this one of the pubs the boys came into?’ The pub crawl has become famous,” said Mr McNally.

Another publican in the village, Tommy Tubridy, said he has had a lot of American tourists coming into his bar since the visit asking if this was one of the bars the Trump sons called to and the village the president visited.

“Tis all a great help,” he said. “It is a win-win situation.”

Tommy Comerford, whose bar was also visited on the pub crawl, said the visit “has been a help and given us higher profile” with US tourists from Pennsylvania and Ohio remarking on having seen media coverage of the Trump visit.