On the 24th of June, following eight months of being under construction, Trump Turnberry hotel was now under the gaze of the world’s media as owner and Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, Donald J. Trump, arrived to officially reopen this reborn resort.
Having invested over £200m into Ayrshire since purchasing this iconic resort in 2014, Trump was greeted warmly by staff and invited guests as he arrived for the first time since the hotel opened its doors on the 1st of June.
As he made his way toward the hotel he was applauded and cheered loudly by his staff who, sporting red baseball caps with the legend, Made Turnberry Great Again, formed a guard of honour on the steps. These members of the local workforce have been provided with jobs in a geographical area where employment can prove difficult to secure. They are just some of the beneficiaries of Mr Trump’s sizeable investment in the local Ayrshire economy.
Through the construction period, all of the hotel’s permanent staff were retained, resulting in no redundancies being made. Some members of the Turnberry team have proudly been a part of this iconic resort for over 30 years and have seen many owners through the years. They agree that this is an owner for life. An owner who loves and respects the property and who has delivered on his promise to make it one of the finest hotels in the world.
With over 110 years of history within its walls, this renovation project was also very much a restoration project. A host of local companies from across Scotland were hired to be a part of this refurbishment, from painters and decorators to joiners and plumbers, with over 200 workmen on site at any given time.
Overseeing the construction of the hotel was Mr Trump’s son, Eric Trump. With frequent visits, Eric worked closely with the project team to execute the vision that would bring the hotel back to its former grandeur. He even personally positioned each of the hotel’s chandeliers (of which there are over 300) in place throughout the building.
All 103 bedrooms were refurbished to the highest of standards, featuring hand carved mahogany beds with gold leaf detail. Over 270 polished, solid brass taps are found throughout the hotel, with over 36,000sq ft of Italian marble tiling installed in lavish bathrooms.
The Grand Reopening marks a day for Turnberry’s history books but also for the local Ayrshire area. It’s a prestigious event for the south of the county and the world is watching. Flights have been booked in and out of Prestwick, transport arrangements made, local hotels, eateries, retail outlets supplied with extra trade due to the volume of media and other interested parties descending on this small corner of the country.
With a family connection to Scotland, his mother hails from Stornoway, Mr Trump thanked everyone for being a part of this momentous day:
“Okay thank you very much” Trump opened. “I appreciate it and this is an amazing corner. It’s an amazing day, very historic day for a lot of reasons, not only Turnberry. My mother was born in Scotland, in Stornoway. She loved Scotland. She would be here a lot, she would come every year with my sister Mary and they just loved it her loyalty to Scotland was incredible.”
During a press conference, held on the breathtaking new 9th of the Ailsa course, with the refurbished lighthouse a dramatic backdrop, Mr Trump told reporters and guests how proud he was of the property and of his children:
“I want to support my children, they worked really hard to make this property what it is and what it has now become,” he said “The reviews of the course have been phenomenal, and the reviews of the hotel have been great.”
“Ivanka and Don came with me to congratulate Eric,” he said referring to his children. “We gave him the responsibility of building the hotel, and I think it’s going to be one of the great hotels of the world, but it was in a somewhat dilapidated shape. We had a choice we could fix it and paint it, (or we) could do it the way we did it. We went back to the original plans from the original architects from…1906. We went back to those plans which are magnificent rooms, very big, they were cut in half and all sort of things happened over the years, we have something very special. Considered one of the most beautiful buildings in golf.”
As well as the hotel refurbishment, the Championship Ailsa course has also been transformed under the watchful eye of respected golf course architect, Martin Ebert. With a true love of golf and golf course architecture, Mr Trump spoke passionately about the reborn Ailsa course. He himself worked closely with Martin Ebert in the critically acclaimed redesign, which sees key holes now played over the ocean.
Consistently ranked as one of the best in the world, its first Open Championship in 1977 is frequently referred to as one of the tournament’s most memorable occasions. The final round was played on July 9 and has been dubbed The Duel in the Sun, an epic tussle between two of the greatest golfers of all time Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.
With a membership of over 400 at Turnberry Golf Club, they too are delighted with the 2015 refurbishment of the clubhouse and of the changes made to the Ailsa course. With work already started on the resort’s second course, the Kintyre, golf club captain, Clive Douglas, has hailed the investment as a “dream come true.”
As we left Turnberry we considered: Donald Trump might not be everybody’s favourite person but the cash injection of £200 million is more than gratefully received. It helps facilitate the employment of local people and sub-contractors and has a backward linkage to the health of other businesses in the area.
It is Trump’s vision, as well as his money which is providing a platform attracting people from all over the world into Ayrshire, helping to stimulate the economy. Few would disagree that is a good thing.