As part of their portfolio in Florida, the Trump brothers have developed several successful, top-end real estate properties, starting in 1985 with the creation of Williams Island in the exclusive Aventura, Florida. This complex of eight high-rise towers, a charming Mediterranean village, and suite of resort and club amenities was one of the first developments of its kind in South Florida. Their development portfolio includes Acqualina Resort & Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, The Mansions at Acqualina, and Luxuria Residences, a luxury condominium situated on the ocean in Boca Raton, as well as extensive land holdings and developments in California.
What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19?
During the lockdown, we’ve had time to do surveys and ask lots of questions. Some of the specific comments that have come up, in recent research: People are sick and tired of the pandemic, tired of the lockdown and of the things tearing our country apart, and they’re ready to move on. Many are looking for a better living situation in anticipation of what might come next. There is clearly a pent-up demand for luxuries, and people are looking for a new and better way of living. People are looking for more to do and to have it readily available. Urban has lost much of its appeal. The work/life/travel balance has been redefined and they are figuring out how to live the rest of their lives and make it work best for them. Also, people are finding out that telecommuting works just fine. They want to be surrounded by family and feel for the safety of their families.
For Acqualina Resort & Residences, we reopened the hotel on June 15, 2020, with enhanced health and safety measures in place so travelers feel safe and comfortable. We are seeing that people want to travel again. We offer a Mediterranean-lifestyle atmosphere and gorgeous outdoor spaces with our green lawns and red umbrellas and couches on the beach. Our rooms and suites are large, and all have balconies. We have no more than four or five rooms per floor, so we are seeing groups of families book the entire floor. Service is top notch and we continue to receive industry awards. I am most proud of our TripAdvisor award—being named Best Beachfront Resort in the Continental U.S. for six years in a row. We have a great team here. Passionate people who want to deliver the very best service.
What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation?
We remain extremely optimistic for the outlook for The Estates at Acqualina, our newest development, opening in 2021. We believe that very fortunately we have landed in exactly the sweet spot of what people are looking for. We are located far away from the madness.
You enter our private gated, lushly landscaped community and you feel like you’re on a Mediterranean island. We have 12 acres on the beach, which is significant. We are in Miami’s Sunny Isles Beach, so you feel as if there’s room to breathe. Our residences are spacious with wide-open views of the ocean.
The Estates at Acqualina started with our vision to build a happy place with lots of space and lots to do for people who want to enjoy life, feel secure, enjoy over-the-top services—whether couples or families and all ages and backgrounds. The common denominator is people who want the best and enjoy life! The kind of place you and your family never have to leave.
Through conversations, we learned that the luxury customer is no longer interested in a small condo in Miami. This no longer suffices. More and more people will be making Miami their permanent or preferred home. People have realized that you don’t have to be in central Manhattan or the center of Boston to do business. Everybody has become a Zoom expert and people are totally comfortable with that experience. They love the fact that they no longer have to commute.
So, why do I say we are in a sweet spot? The fact that we are an oasis away from the hustle and bustle is a starting point, but then we built very large residences. The 154 residences in the South Tower range from 3,200–5,600 square feet, and there are two single-family homes, a tower suite, and a pair of two-story penthouses, all ranging from 6,226–9,000 square feet, all with private leisure pools. In the Boutique Tower, there are 94 turnkey residences ranging from 4,385–9,134 square feet. In fact, that’s why we called it the Estates, the Estates in the sky. With room to be by yourself, rooms to be with your family, room for an office, room for a gym, room to move around, and even a media room. On your terrace, which measures 47′ x 20′, you feel like you’re on a private yacht with a summer kitchen, incredible views and lots of space.
More and more people will be making Miami their permanent or preferred home. People have realized that you don’t have to be in central Manhattan or the center of Boston to do business.
We achieve all this because we build beautiful, usable homes for people to actually live in. We build from the inside out and let form follow function. And in our outdoors, we are blessed again with plenty of space. We have 1,200 feet of beachfront with beautiful green lawns facing the beach where people can enjoy the luxury of sitting on our couches. There will be three swimming pools with cabanas lining each pool. Places for solitude and places to socialize. There is a whole area where young people can have their own pool, soccer, and basketball, which many adults are very happy about.
How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now?
The demand is certainly there, and we expect it will still be a year from now. We are 80% sold in the South Tower and sales began for the new Boutique North Tower earlier this year. The South Tower will be completed in summer 2021 with the second tower and the rest of the development opening shortly after. We will continue doing what we do best—creating great living experiences. We build to the standards of the world’s finest residences and provide incredible value for our buyers. Our customers have trust in living at The Acqualina residences.
We are seeing people want rooms where they can take phone calls and more home offices and places for school. Fortunately, in our second boutique tower at The Estates, we built out all four- and five-bedroom residences. So now we are showing examples on how you can build one of the rooms out as an office and we are actually building it out for the buyer. We can also adapt for a homeschooling space. It’s an idea that we will look at more. We are learning as we go as it’s a different world.
Safe–and entertained–at home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime
I am an early riser—up at 5 a.m. We have a lot of construction calls. I speak with my teams from Florida, New York, California, and Israel. I spend most of my day on Zoom. I think everyone has become a Zoom expert.
I don’t really watch television.
We have a fantastic reading program at Acqualina Resort and The Estates at Acqualina. As part of the Bedside Reading Book Club, my wife, Stephanie, just finished reading Challenge Everything and really enjoyed it. That might be my next book. I read the Wall Street Journal and, locally, The Real Deal for the latest real estate news. I enjoy podcasts too.
What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I live with my wife, Stephanie, at The Mansions at Acqualina, our second residential building, which opened in 2015. We are on the 40th floor and the water and city views are amazing. We can even see Williams Island from our balcony, which was our first development in Miami and today encompasses 2,000 luxury homes. We are very lucky and have a lot of space in our apartment. Stephanie cooks every day and is a great cook. We miss seeing our three children and 13 grandchildren but talk via Zoom quite often.
What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
I have a trainer—her name is Veronika. We meet three days a week at 7 a.m. on the green lawn fronting the beach when there is no one outside. We lift weights, do pushups, planks, stretches, and lots of cardio. She does Tabata so I have been doing this high-intensity workout!
Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
Greece—I love the country, culture, food, and its people. In fact, the restaurant at The Estates will be a spectacular Greek/Mediterranean waterfront restaurant that will be unlike anything in South Florida. Yiamas as they say in Greek, meaning cheers!