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The first fairway at Doonbeg Golf Club. Photograph by John Kelly.

Trumps get down to business in Doonbeg

THE Trump family had quite an adventure travelling to Doonbeg in West Clare. Flights from London and Birmingham were cancelled as the storm took hold on Wednesday. Eventually, the Trump brothers, Eric and Don, left England on a flight for Dublin, which was subsequently diverted to Shannon. So after all of that, they reached Doonbeg, ironically ahead of their re-arranged schedule, on Wednesday night.

“It was a journey to say the least,” Eric Trump told The Clare Champion early on Thursday morning, at the rebranded Trump International Golf Links Ireland club in Doonbeg.

“A couple of flights cancelled, a lot of storms, a lot of diversions and a lot of waiting in airports. But it’s obviously great to be here,” he added.

Ahead of an array of meetings with Doonbeg management, Eric Trump was keen to stress that the family’s attention will be firmly on Doonbeg in the coming months.

“A significant focus. We have a lot of golf clubs, we have a lot of hotels. This combines both of them, so it’s very pivotal. Whenever we do projects as a family, we go in, we do the project and we get it perfect,” he revealed.

“Only when the thing is physically and operationally perfect do we really look for others. So, this will be our full source of focus over the next six months, year, two years. It will always be our focus. We’re a family company and we’re always at our assets. You’ll see Don (brother) and I here a lot. We’ll be back and forth every month. We spend a tremendous amount of time at our properties and, obviously, our teams, which are comprehensive, will put a tremendous amount of focus on it,” he said.

Mr Trump says the family-owned company insist on getting the small details right, across their international range of 16 golf clubs and 12 hotels.

“We’re not a company that does a deal and then we never show up again. There’s plenty of those companies around the world.  Our brand name is everything. It really is the golden goose. Everything has to be right. A cup of tea has to be perfect, the sheets have to be perfect. The littlest of details have to be perfect, otherwise we lose our name and we lose the brand value. So we’re very, very hands on,” he reiterated.

Eric Trump is confident that his family’s entrance to the Irish market will have a positive knock-on effect for the nation’s economy.

“When we come into a country, a lot of time that happens. I think it’s a good thing. What normally happens is people become reassured and foreign investment becomes reassured. Often they look to us and say ‘if Trump is willing to make a move, than so am I’. I think you’ll see a lot of that. I think it will be great for the country. Ireland is an amazing place. It’s a place I spent a lot of my childhood. I think you’ll see a lot of people, in our wake, coming in here,” he predicted.

The Trumps have known about Doonbeg Golf Club for some time.

“A whole group of our team, including my brother, were here about a year ago. I’ll never forget them coming back and saying ‘of all the courses we saw in Ireland, there’s only one and that’s Doonbeg’. We kept that in the back of our mind and, obviously, this came up a few weeks ago. We got the deal done incredibly quickly. Had we not, there was apparently six other groups behind us that were also getting on it. I think we got very fortunate and I’m glad we moved very quickly,” he acknowledged.

“It really has blown away my expectations. You walk through the place and it is truly incredible and I think, more than anything, contextual. It’s something you don’t find a lot of. A lot of times you go to a place and it’s nice but this is so five-star and the service is so quality. It’s so contextual to the local environment. It just fits in the landscape. Everything about it works. That’s what we like. I go all over the world and we’ll see a hotel in Miami that has the same brand in London. We try to do the exact opposite. It has to be contextual to the area that it’s in. This place really epitomises Ireland,” he believes.

“I had a friend that got married here last year. He told me that ‘when you get to the property, you will meet some of the nicest people in the world. My wedding was perfect. It went off flawlessly’. We really did meet those people last night. They are an amazing team and they do an incredible job. Amazingly well-polished, which is what we care about because the service component of these properties is so big for us,” he added.

The Trumps plan to spend 36 hours in Ireland on this trip.

“We started last night,” he said on Thursday morning. “We sat down with a large percentage of the team. We had a great dinner and we really got to know each other,” he revealed.

Eric Trump says the family is not overly concerned about the almost €1m of coastal erosion damage in Doonbeg.

“We knew that coming into the property. Quite frankly, there’s no one better in the world at building than us. It’s what we do. We build golf courses. Not that the golf course here is for rebuild. But we’ll make sure that those areas that are damaged are fixed better than ever,” he vowed.

About Peter O'Connell

West Clare native Peter O'Connell has worked for The Clare Champion for 12 years and covers everything from sport, especially GAA, news, features and has been even known to branch into the fashion scene on occasion.

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