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with the amusement rides about a third full. A young woman

Source:sites edit:casino time:2018-03-15

 with the amusement rides about a third full. A young woman with a Russian accent at the Krazyballs game holds a microphone and says gambling problem hotline

Earlier, I had a swim in the strange indoor pool that, late at night, transforms into a Vegas-style nightclub called Drai's; I draped a towel on an upholstered lounge banquette. Later, I was given very professional, very invigorating massage treatment at The Spa by Ivanka Trump™ (which "personifies her lifestyle, embarking on every endeavor with energy and passion, but always taking the time to pause, heal and recharge"). At the spa, a woman with an Eastern European accent asked me about my "intention" for today's treatment. "Calm, restore or energize?" she asked.

Who was not in attendance was the mayor of Vancouver and other prominent officials. "Trump's name and brand have no more place on Vancouver's skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world," Mayor Gregor Robertson wrote in a letter to Tiah. A city council member, Kerry Jang, called the tower "a beacon of intolerance" and said it had "bad karma."

Back in my room, still hungry, I open a container of honey roasted peanuts ($8) and a Mexican beer ($11) from the minibar, flip on CNN and lie on the bed watching reports on the first indictments in the Mueller investigation. As a jaded travel writer, someone who has stayed in many soulless hotels and eaten in many overpriced restaurants in many disappointing places, I'm completely at ease with a certain exquisite idleness and ennui. But there's something profoundly unsettling about the sort of boredom that I've been feeling in the Trump properties over the past many weeks.

I'm having trouble concentrating on the wines because the big screen above the tasting bar is playing a series of videos. The volume is muted, but there is sweeping footage of the vines, glamorous images of weddings, and shots of the winemakers. Every once in a while, Eric Trump pops onto the screen - arriving at the estate in the Trump helicopter, touring the grounds or talking to the camera. I recall that Eric and his siblings have been put in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization. When the videos end and switch to the next, you can see the video file names. One of them clearly reads "DJT edited out."

"Oh, there's a restroom right around the corner, and there's a bunch of pool towels in the closet," he says. "Basically, this is y'all's house while you're here." That may be because the Albemarle Estate is being run on a skeleton staff, and we're sort of on our own.

"I own, actually, one of the largest wineries in the United States. It's in Charlottesville." Thus boasted President Trump after a news conference at Trump Tower in August, in which he addressed questions about the clash between white supremacists and those protesting a statue of Robert E. Lee that resulted in a neo-Nazi allegedly killing a woman with his car. There were "very fine people on both sides," he said.

(Ben Nelms / Bloomberg)

Jason Wilson's new book, "Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey Through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine," will be published in April. He is the series editor of "The Best American Travel Writing."

I tell the bartender about the screaming protester who'd driven by outside, and he looks pained. "Ah, politics," he says with a sigh. "I have friends that tell me, 'Well, we can't visit you now because you work at that place.' " He adds, somberly: "This property is owned by TA Global, not Trump."

I wasn't traveling as an investigative reporter or a salacious Michael Wolff type. As a food and travel writer, my role as a contributor to The Washington Post has always been a minor, lighter-weight one. I'm someone who roves around and writes about craft beverages or artisan cheese or cigar culture or Spanish tapas or Scandinavian culinary movements - someone you'd turn to for a cocktail recipe or a bar recommendation, not political commentary. But at this point, Trump has been written about in every other genre of journalism: political, entertainment, financial, fashion, sports. Why not look at Trump, promiser of luxury experiences, through the eyes of a travel writer? My plan was to sleep in the various Trump hotels, experience the Trump amenities, wear the Trump robe and shower cap, eat in the Trump restaurants, drink in the Trump bars - no differently than when I anonymously visit and review any other establishment in the course of a travel or food article. Given the state of things, this might have been naive, but that's what I ended up doing.

 with the amusement rides about a third full. A young woman with a Russian accent at the Krazyballs game holds a microphone and says gambling problem hotline

Now, from the 50th floor, through the dirt-smudged windows, you can look all the way down the Boardwalk at what casinos remain in Atlantic City. Five of the 12 closed between 2014 and 2016. From this high up, looking out past the beach, toward the ocean, things don't look so bad. But the view on the ground is of a different, grimmer reality.

We walk through hallways plastered with gaudy wallpaper that looks like a Roman toga hanging on a curtain rod, and we gaze out the big windows at the faux-Classical sculptures and faux-English hedges and fountains in a garden that appears as if it were dreamed up by a mafia don pretending to be a British aristocrat. We wander down a grand hallway that looks like a Jersey McMansion version of Versailles imagined by Donatella Versace, and our guide shows us busts of Jefferson and Washington. "They're working on busts of all the Virginia presidents," he says.

After the SUV cruises on, the street is quiet again. A Trump employee standing nearby shrugs and opens the lobby door for me. His body language is similar to that of the bartender I chatted with at the Trump Champagne Lounge earlier, who grimaced when the name "Donald Trump" was uttered. "The property is actually owned by TA Global," the bartender said, making clear that the Trump brand is licensed. "It's like a franchise."

Trump came to Aberdeenshire with a lot of promises: 6,000 jobs, 1,450 homes and millions for the local economy. Nothing near that has happened, and Trump's two golf courses in Scotland are losing a lot of money. Neither has turned a profit since he poured more than $200 million into both Trump International Golf Links and the famed Turnberry course (which he acquired in 2014) on the Ayrshire coast, an hour from Glasgow. The course here in Aberdeenshire lost nearly $2 million in 2016, and the Scottish government recently blocked Trump's attempt to build a new course on the dunes, according to multiple news sources. (The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.)

I'm paying nearly $300 per night to stay in one of the 147 five-star hotel rooms in the tower. When I arrived to check in, I gawked at the two Lamborghini Diablos parked in front of the hotel entrance. After I got to my room, I tried on the robe embroidered with "TRUMP," along with the "TRUMP"-branded shower cap, in my marble-tiled bathroom. At the Trump Champagne Lounge, I ate a "delectable playful bite" - a trio of not-all-that-delectable toothpicked sliders - and ended up only ordering a cheap by-the-glass sparkling wine, since bottles on the Trump Champagne Lounge's list range from $150 to $1,350. Throughout the lounge, which is interspersed with pillars that look like huge, gold-plated Jenga stacks, everyone else seemed to be speaking Chinese.

Near the old casino floor, I walk by a large man wearing a Trump-Pence T-shirt, reclining on a leopard-print fainting couch tagged for $125. "Comfortable?" I ask.

Then, on the desk, is the pièce de résistance: the huge, lavishly illustrated TRUMP Magazine. Amid the breathless travel features - on the Trump golf courses, on "A Day in the Life of a Trump Bride," on food and drink at Trump-owned destinations, on the Trump Cookie at the golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Wine by the Crystal Spoon at the lounge at the Trump hotel in Washington - there are "exclusive interviews" with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. In the Q&A with Donald Jr., he's asked: "If you had to give advice to a high school student, what would it be?" His reply: "If you always go with your instincts and never second-guess yourself, you will set yourself up for enormous success." Don Jr. is then asked, "What would you change about your life if you could?" He says, "I am really lucky so I would not change anything. But if I did change anything, I would add more hours to the day."

I covered one of the opening nights of the diving horse act for the Press, getting reaction from activists, from pier workers and from people on the Boardwalk. I walked to the end of the Steel Pier to watch the act. All of us in the crowd looked skyward at a raised platform. That's where we saw a "horse" slowly led out onto a plank. It soon became clear that the diving horse was not actually a horse. It was a mule. And it was not going to jump into the ocean, but rather 15 feet down into a pool of water.

"So is it like Switzerland?" I ask.

The notion of my "intention" had, frankly, been nagging at me. Not just at The Spa by Ivanka Trump™, but existentially. Over the past six weeks, I'd been traveling to Trump vacation properties around the world. I'd been to the Trump golf resort near Aberdeen, Scotland, to Trump Winery in Virginia, to the Trump hotel and tower in Panama City, and now here in Vancouver. Before that tour, over the summer, I'd visited the former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

It's a balmy night in Panama City, and I'm having a rum at the bar of the largely empty Ocean Sun Casino, which is next door to the largely empty Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama, where I'm staying. I'm talking with a friendly young Frenchman who's telling me about his life here as a bitcoin trader. Apparently, he's moved to Panama because of the favorable tax situation for his line of work. Tomorrow, he says, he'll be moving into a condo in the Trump tower, which he says he's rented very cheaply. (The Trump Organization is not the owner of this tower, but it has managed the hotel property since its opening.)


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