>> Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits costing Florida thousands, documents show
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurel Baker said she isn’t privy to the president’s summer travel plans, though merchants are interested in finding out what they can do to brace themselves in case he visits.
“The traffic obviously is hurting the hotels south of here. I heard from one that they were just sending their guests to Delray,” Baker said.
She speculated that since Mar-a-Lago likely will close for the summer, Trump might take vacations to New Jersey rather than Palm Beach. Either way, she suspects that Trump's visits already might have affected tourism.
“We don’t have as many inquiries from tourists for summer, which I find unusual,” Baker said.
>> Trump’s Mar-a-Lago food service cited for state violations
Presidential travel announcements are made only a few days in advance, according to a White House press officer who refused to give her name when reached by phone Wednesday.
“If he’s going to be in Palm Beach, we’re going to make that particular announcement,” she said.
Grand interior reception at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Estate in Florida
Credit: Colin Miller
Credit: Colin Miller
Here’s what we’ve been able to find out about whether Trump will return, so you can make your own guess:
*Visas haven't expired — Sixty-four employees at Mar-a-Lago operate on federal government H-2B visas, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department. Those visas expire May 31, leaving Trump several more weeks of time before the club might be understaffed for a presidential visit. It's unclear exactly how many workers remain at the club year-round and whether it would be enough to run the club — or Trump's private residence — with an influx of security and staff.
*No closing date — The town doesn't require Mar-a-Lago to close during the summer, according to Logan Elliott, zoning technician with the Planning, Zoning and Building Department. That means that the club, as well as Trump's residence, can operate all year.
*Spring cleaning — In the past, Mar-a-Lago staffers spent time in late spring cleaning and bracing the club so it could withstand hurricanes. Drapes are dismantled, cleaned and stored, and windows are shuttered to prepare for potential storms. It's unclear how much of that process would need to be reversed if the president visits this summer, or if those preparations affect his residential area.
*Traffic debacles — After last-minute road closures and security measures snarled traffic on the island during Trump's first visit to the winter White House since taking office, the town created a traffic mitigation plan. The plan, which included having officers man busy intersections and limiting bridge openings, is in place only until May 1. Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin said that plan could evolve and be used this summer if needed.
*First lady moving to Washington, D.C. — The White House confirmed this week that first lady Melania Trump and Barron Trump will move to Washington, D.C., this summer when Trump's youngest son finishes school. While it was no secret that Melania planned to move out of her New York home, but the fact that she isn't moving to Palm Beach hints that the president may stay with his family in D.C.
*Straight from the horse's mouth — Trump initially called his Mar-a-Lago Club the "winter White House," though that rhetoric switched to his "Southern White House" in recent weeks. Could this be a hint that he plans to return this summer? Only he knows.