Donald Trump’s Turnberry golf resort suffers disappointing profits | US news

Donald Trump’s luxury golf resort at Turnberry in Scotland earned much less than forecast last year, suggesting the repeated controversies about his conduct may have dented its popularity.

Trump Turnberry’s last accounts show the luxury hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire had an income of £15.2m in 2017 because its takings jumped after he spent more than £100m refurbishing its buildings and courses, and with rooms available at a steep discount.

In January last year, Turnberry’s general manager, Ralph Porciani, told the Guardian he expected 2017 to be the best-performing in the hotel’s history – more than a century – by beating its previous record takings of £16.2m in 2007 by 15% to 20%.

Trump had told the Times that month Turnberry was doing “unbelievably” well because the value of sterling had fallen after Brexit, boosting US and overseas visitors. Turnberry’s earnings for 2017 were much lower than Porciani’s forecast of at least £18.5m though.

Its sales grew by 70% chiefly because it was not affected by any closures during 2017 from the remodelling of its golf courses and refurbishment of the hotel. Turnberry also increased its golf club membership fees by 38% to £2,500 a year after the courses were revamped at great expense.

The accounts for Turnberry’s holding company, Golf Recreation Scotland, also suggest that Trump’s optimism about the impact of sterling’s weakness against the dollar was unfounded.

Golf Recreation Scotland claims it made a profit of £4m in currency transactions last year after suffering £8m in losses from currency transactions in 2016, when sterling was much weaker compared to the dollar.

It said it does most of its business in US dollars but only totals up the cost of its currency transactions at the end of the year, implying the pound’s steady growth in value against the dollar during 2017 helped its accounts. However, a stronger pound may have contributed to a fall in overseas visitors to Turnberry, forcing it to cut its room rates.

The SLC Turnberry accounts for 2017 also show that resort still owes President Trump’s trust in New York £107m in loans for its major overhaul and refurbishment, which included the construction of an ornate ballroom at the hotel.

Its losses, which included claims that the value of its buildings and assets fell by £2.3m last year, meant it got a tax rebate of £96,000.

Last week a US court cleared the way for a group of nearly 200 Democrat party senators and representatives led by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to sue Trump over the legality of continuing business dealings abroad.

The US constitution bans sitting presidents from receiving “foreign emoluments” such as payments, preferential deals or gifts from overseas, and his critics allege that many of the Trump Organization’s foreign business dealings breach that ban.

The court documents cite Trump’s Scottish business interests including his attempts to lobby Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, to help him campaign against an offshore windfarm near his Aberdeenshire course.

They say Trump’s Scottish courses stand to gain “regulatory benefits” if its planning applications go ahead: Trump Aberdeen has live planning applications for a second golf course and a housing estate of 500 homes with the local councils. A decision on the golf course could come this year.

Trump Turnberry has been approached for comment.

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