Trump’s Right-Hand Man at the Re-Imagined Blue Monster
By Robin Jay, Dale King and Julia Hebert
News heralding David Feder’s arrival as Vice President and Managing Director of the Trump National Doral Miami resort in January 2014 says he has “presided over some of the nation’s most prestigious resorts, including the Boca Resort & Club, Fontainebleau, Arizona Biltmore and Turnberry Isle, to name a few.” The amiable maestro of hostelry is shouldering a massive responsibility in his newest gig. He has operated the country’s most spectacular meeting resort and PGA TOUR’s iconic Blue Monster golf course, during a quarter-billion dollar restoration, all while under the microscope to help one of the nation’s most influential families fulfill its dream. “The reason I am here is the Trump family,” said Feder, whose reputation as an industry expert is being recognized by South Florida Opulence, which named him its Best Golf Hospitality Visionary. At Trump National Doral, Feder continues his success using a long-held, unbeatable philosophy of hotel operation: “If it’s legal, moral and the guests want it and will pay for it, we should do it. If you have that philosophy, you don’t determine the product, the clients determine the product. It’s a market-driven strategy with the ultimate objective of delivering a luxurious and memorable experience. Our service and attention to detail has to be second to none.”
BRINGING AN ICONIC MIAMI LANDMARK BACK TO THE GLORY DAYS
Located in the rapidly-growing Miami suburb of Doral, the 800-acre, 643-room resort boasts four golf courses, including the infamous ‘Blue Monster.’ Donald Trump purchased it in 2012 for $150 million, then invested another $250 million to bring it up to par, a process that continues today. “Mr. Trump’s personal ties with Doral go back to his childhood, when he spent time vacationing here with his family,” Feder said. “A few years ago, when Mr. Trump purchased the resort, it quickly became a passion project for him and his children.” It was a phone call from Trump himself that enticed Feder to make his way to the paradise for golfers, tourists and business executives in Doral.
“David is a hospitality visionary with a proven track record that matches the standards of excellence synonymous with the Trump brand,” said Donald J. Trump, Chairman and President, The Trump Organization. “As the property draws nearer to completion, he will ensure that it emerges as one of the most distinguished resorts in the world.”
In point of fact, Feder has worked for many rich and famous on his trek to hotel eminence: H. Wayne Huizenga, owner of the former Boca Resorts Inc., a conglomerate which included the Addison Mizner designed Boca Raton Resort & Club at its pinnacle; the Soffer family, operators of the Fontainebleau and Turnberry Isle, and now, Trump. Feder has also held executive positions at other luxury lodgings, such as the Breakers in Palm Beach, the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco and the PGA National.
The resort executive’s brushes with fame were not always hotel-related. While working on his MBA at night and employed in his youth at Britches, a Washington, D.C. men’s store, Feder sold apparel while standing next to budding clothing mogul Ralph Lauren, who spent many weekends in the store building his garment empire.
IN THE TRUMP SPOTLIGHT
Working for the Trumps has taken center stage lately. It can be challenging, Feder said, but he embraces it.
Three of Donald’s children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., all with business degrees from top universities, serve as Executive Vice Presidents of Development and Acquisitions for The Trump Organization. “They are bright, savvy and polished business visionaries,” Feder said. “Ivanka is an amazing and passionate entrepreneur who not only leads the design aspect of the company, but also heads development and acquisitions for the company. There is virtually nothing on the property that this dynamic family didn’t have a decision in. They worked with me on all aspects – which is unusual – most other developers would have simply handed the project over to the operations team and moved on. We have created a very tight-knit partnership. Eric is involved with the construction of every inch of the restoration at Trump National Doral. He’s practically had a hammer in his hand ever since he was a young boy. And Ivanka? She’s a superstar. She spearheads the interior design decisions for the Trump Hotel Collection. Everywhere you walk on the property in Doral, you see touches of Ivanka’s timeless glamour and modern sensibility.”
While Trump is known throughout the world, Feder said, “Many people don’t realize that he is what he is. When you see him on television, he is the same person off screen. Without doubt, Donald Trump is the brightest, most perceptive and passionate man I have ever met.” The New York billionaire’s demeanor “hasn’t changed since he’s been on the campaign trail for president.” “Except,” said Feder, “that I don’t see him here as much.”