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Design Challenge

With the renovation of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on her already-busy plate, Ivanka Trump tackles
one of her most ambitious projects to date.

Ivanka Trump


A rendering of a future guest room

Ivanka Trump has just returned to the Doral Golf Resort & Spa after spending an afternoon with her 2-year-old daughter in the company of parrots and kangaroos at Jungle Island. The busy daughter of developer Donald Trump had to shuffle her itinerary several times while in Miami for the Cadillac Championship golf tournament. And although rescheduling meetings is not a big deal for the young mother, she admits that these days her life is a 24/7 juggling act. “Like any working mother, finding balance is always a challenge and I continue to adjust and work at it,” she says. “Family is very important, but I would not be fulfilled without my work, and I am thrilled about this new challenge.”

Said “new challenge” is the head-to-toe renovation of the iconic and aging Doral, a project the 31-year-old Trump, who serves as executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization, promises to infuse with style and glamour (two terms she’s rather familiar with thanks to her role as fashion designer of her own label). The northwest Miami-Dade property will be rebranded as the Trump Doral once the major restoration is completed by early 2015. “We will impose our own look and feel on the Doral,” says (the newly pregnant) Trump, who plans to commute back and forth from New York City to Miami during the renovation process. “There was an incredible glamour affixed to the name Doral years ago and we want to bring that back.”

Trump and her family’s Trump Hotel Collection, headed by her legendary father, bought the 650-acre golf resort last June for $150 million, and will pump $200 million into its renovation. Plans include a complete redesign of all 50 executive suites and the addition of marble-clad bathrooms with large tubs as well as a complete overhaul of the resort’s 50,000-square-foot spa. Additionally, each of Doral’s 693 guestrooms will be upgraded with sophisticated touches like mahogany accents and gold-leaf details. Furnishings will proffer the golf theme of tartan plaid, herringbone and geometric patterns, and touches including classic photographs of superstar golfers like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Trump will also help redesign the 25,000-square-foot ballroom, private members clubhouse, restaurants, lodges, main building, and all meeting and retail spaces.

The elder Trump has so much confidence in his Wharton School-educated daughter that he has involved her in most of his national and international real estate projects during the past few years. Trump joined her father’s business empire in 2005 after working for a year as a project manager in the retail development division of Forest City Ratner Companies in Westchester, N.Y., where she learned the day-to-day travails of the real estate business from developer Bruce Ratner. In true Trump fashion, the Doral gig wasn’t just handed to her. She earned it after years of spearheading the expansion of the Trump brand via hotels, residential developments, golf clubs and casinos from Chicago to Dubai. During this time, she’s learned that owning hotels allows the Trump brand to control services and keep them thriving.

“Ivanka is competitive and has done a terrific job with our projects around the globe,” says Donald Trump. “For the Doral, she will focus on the golf traditions as well as update the look to modern-day demands and attract new leisure travelers. She is a dynamo who gets things done.”

Working with father and daughter on the five Doral golf courses will be famed architect Gil Hanse, who has already begun redesigning the resort’s signature course, the Blue Monster, to make it bigger, better and tougher. He hopes to finish the work by this November.

In the works for the restaurant component of the property is a steakhouse (soon to be named) and a high-end sports bar/grill in a clubby motif with large TV screens. The pro shop will boast a larger lobby, new locker rooms and a more luxurious feel. “The golfers will be challenged, and the leisure guests will have a variety of programs for parents and children,” Trump explains. “We will diversify the resort like it hasn’t been done before.”

The main challenge for the Trump heir lies in updating a classic and iconic property while incorporating modern-living creature comforts, yet that’s the part that excites her the most. “For the past 10 years the Doral has had absentee owners,” she says. “So we have lots to do because there is nothing like this place in a golfing compound. People will no longer have to drive to Georgia golf resorts for a full-scale luxury weekend. When we are finished everyone will be blown away!”