Donald Trump retreated to Mar-a-Lago. Take a look inside his exclusive resort that the public never sees.

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Michal Kranz,Mariana Alfaro,Taylor Borden
·11 min read
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trump mar-a-lago
trump mar-a-lago

Donald Trump outside the entrance of Mar-a-Lago on December 21, 2016. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Mar-a-Lago is Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The property made a number of headlines and served as the First Family's gilded getaway throughout Trump's presidency.

  • It's where the family went on Wednesday following the end of Trump's presidential term, even though neighbors weren't thrilled at the prospect.

  • Here's a look inside the exclusive resort that the public doesn't get to see.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Related: Highlights from President Joe Biden's history-making inauguration

Over the last four years, Donald Trump's exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida was often referred to as "the winter White House."

Now, it's just his house.

Following the end of his presidential term on Wednesday, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Recent reports of construction work at the family's on-property living quarters and Melania Trump touring a local school (presumably for son Barron) stoked rumors of the move long before it was official. Neighbors even publicly spoke about wanting Trump to stay away, though it clearly didn't deter him.

Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, as it has seemingly always served as the Trump family's gilded weekend getaway. Mar-a-Lago has served as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls. It was built to impress.

Case in point: the property was closed for 57 days amid the coronavirus pandemic after visitors like the press secretary to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Brazil's Chargé d'Affaires Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

Here's a look inside the sprawling complex, which was built in the early 20th century, where the Trumps have hosted opulent holiday parties and watched Super Bowls alongside members of the exclusive private club.

The Mar-a-Lago Club is a 20-acre estate with 128 rooms. The heiress to Post Cereal built it in 1927.

mar a lago
mar a lago

The name of the resort means "sea to lake" in Spanish. John Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Town and Country Magazine

It spans the entire width of the island Palm Beach is located on, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort fronts the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Google Maps

Trump bought the estate and all of its antique furniture in 1985 for a total of $8 million.

mar a lago trump
mar a lago trump

Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump during their Mar-A-Lago wedding on November 12, 2005. Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Source: Town and Country Magazine

Today, it serves as the Trump family's opulent playground, but is also open to people who purchase a membership at the club.

Mar-a-Lago Club
Mar-a-Lago Club

Trump at the Mar-a-Largo Club, where there's a polo ground. Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

Back in the 1990s, memberships cost $50,000, but they soared to $200,000 after Trump's election.

GettyImages 907091808
GettyImages 907091808

Guests attend a Mar-a-Lago party with more than 800 guests on January 18, 2018, which was a celebration of President Trump holding the nation's top office for one year. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

Members also have to pay a $14,000 annual fee, with a $2,000 dining minimum.

mar a lago new year
mar a lago new year

Guests gather for a New Year's Eve gala hosted by President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

Members can access the club's pools, beaches, dining halls, and private rooms. They can also rent out the resort for events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and charity galas.

brunch wealth mar a lago club palm beach trump
brunch wealth mar a lago club palm beach trump

Guests gather for an opulent event at Mar-a-Lago. Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider

Source: Mar-a-Lago

Trump has also used it to host numerous campaign events and publicity events, like the one pictured below, which was held in Mar-a-Lago's giant ballroom.

mar a lago
mar a lago

The Trumps gather for a 2016 campaign event. Getty/Win McNamee

Source: Time

For most people, access to the club stops at its gated entrance.

mar a lago entrance
mar a lago entrance

The gate to Mar-a-Lago. Alan Diaz/AP

Source: Mar-a-Lago

Those who do make it inside are treated to a detailed portico that leads into the main building, which features neo-Gothic and Andalusian accents.

trump mar a lago entrance
trump mar a lago entrance

Trump stands next to the ornate entryway into Mar-a-Lago's quarters for living and socializing. Evan Vucci/AP

Source: Mar-a-Lago

Once inside, ornate decor reminiscent of European palaces accompanies pricey antique furniture. The club's main living room features high ceilings and gold-plated designs over every wall.

trump mar a lago
trump mar a lago

Trump speaks with members of the armed forces on Thanksgiving 2017. Alex Brandon/AP

Source: Mar-a-Lago

Here, the president and first lady Melania Trump used the cavernous library to make calls to children on Christmas Eve in 2017.

trump melania library mar a lago
trump melania library mar a lago

Donald and Melania Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Christmas Eve in 2017. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Source: The White House

Not all of the rooms are so lavish. This interior room is where Trump gathered with his advisers to order 2017's missile strikes in Syria in response to what the US said were President Bashar al-Assad's chemical attacks on his own people.

trump missile strike
trump missile strike

President Donald Trump gathers with his team to order Syria missile strikes on Apr. 7, 2017. White House Press Secretary

Source: Business Insider

Trump has also hosted world leaders at the resort, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Mar-a-Lago resort melania donald trump Shinzo Abe Akie Abe
Mar-a-Lago resort melania donald trump Shinzo Abe Akie Abe

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and wife Akie Abe as they arrive for dinner at Mar-a-Lago in 2018. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

In February 2017, Trump got into a bit of hot water when he discussed national security details with Abe in full view of the resort's other guests.

mar a lago
mar a lago

A photo of the night Abe visited Mar-a-Lago that Richard DeAgazio posted to his Facebook page. Screenshot/Facebook

Source: Business Insider

Trump used Mar-a-Lago's luxurious interior to full effect when Xi visited the complex. As usual at Mar-a-Lago, bouquets were everywhere. Reports later found that such flowers cost the US government $6,000 - with the entire visit totaling more than $35,000.

trump xi jinping Mar a Lago
trump xi jinping Mar a Lago

Trump (center left) with Xi Jinping (center right), their wives, and aides. Alex Brandon/AP

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

In 2018, Trump also welcomed the Chinese president's delegation in a royal neo-Baroque hall at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump state dinner china mar a lago
Trump state dinner china mar a lago

Trump welcomes Chinese dignitaries at one of Mar-a-Lago's dining rooms. Alex Brandon/AP

Source: Sun-Sentinel

Not a detail was amiss for the visit, including the elaborate place settings

place setting
place setting

A place setting at Mar-a-Lago for a dinner with Trump and Xi Jinping of China. Alex Brandon/AP

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

The food at events like these is prepared by a team of expert chefs.

Mar-a-Lago food
Mar-a-Lago food

The meal served at President Donald Trump's party celebrating one year in office. Held on January 18, 2018, it was a lavish celebration with more than 800 guests. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

But not all of it is up to fine dining standard: In January 2018, a customer was disappointed when she was served caviar with plastic spoons, with allegedly "low-budget" crackers to accompany it.

Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago

These guests, however, seemed to enjoy their meal on January 18, 2018. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Trump's taste is evident throughout his palatial second home.

Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Mar-a-Lago
Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe host a joint press conference at Mar-a-Lago estate on April 18, 2018. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Town and Country Magazine

Because of its flat terrain and open air access, Trump can fly in on his own helicopter.

Trump helicopter mar a lago
Trump helicopter mar a lago

Trump's helicopter. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Source: Palm Beach Daily News

If the club's multiple beaches aren't enough for guests, they can relax by the various pools on the property. It seems Trump and his security team have taken advantage of brief windows of downtime to do so.

trump mar a lago
trump mar a lago

Trump with his staff poolside at Mar-a-Lago. Lynne Sladky/AP

Source: Mar-a-Lago

Mar-a-Lago has become synonymous with Trump's lavish lifestyle.

Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago

A view of the ornate hall where President Donald Trump hosted his one-year anniversary gala in January 2018. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Source: Town and Country Magazine

The parties he holds there, like those on New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday, last late into the night.

trump new year
trump new year

Trump arrives for a New Year's Eve gala at Mar-a-Lago with the first lady and their son Barron. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Source: Business Insider

In addition to being a social setting for the elite, the resort itself has become a backdrop for a number of recent national news stories.

Mar A Lago
Mar A Lago

An aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider

In September 2019, Mar-a-Lago made headlines as one Jeffrey Epstein victim said she had been recruited directly from the resort in 1999 when she was 15.

Donald Trump with Jeffrey Epstein
Donald Trump with Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump. Davidoff Studios/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider, The New York Times

In September 2019, a Chinese businesswoman was convicted of trespassing on Mar-a-Lago with multiple cell phones and electronic devices. She was suggested to be a spy for the Chinese government and was ordered to be deported after her eight-month sentence.

Yujing Zhang mar-a-lago trial
Yujing Zhang mar-a-lago trial

A sketch shows Yujing Zhang (left), the Chinese woman charged with lying to illegally enter Mar-a-Lago club during a courtroom hearing in West Palm Beach. Daniel Pontet via AP, File

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

In February 2020, a 30-year-old opera singer from Connecticut named Hannah Roemhild was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase through Palm Beach. Roemhild barreled through two security checkpoints at Mar-a-Lago in a black SUV that was shot at by police.

mar-a-lago
mar-a-lago

After the incident at Mar-a-Lago (above), Hannah Roemhild picked up her mother from the airport in her bullet-riddled SUV and checked into a motel before she was arrested. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Most recently, Mar-a-Lago hosted events with attendees who later tested positive for COVID-19, including a Brazilian press secretary who came into contact with Trump. On March 15, the club was shut down for a deep cleaning. It did not reopen until May.

Trump coronavirus
Trump coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting at the White House in March, as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to spread in the US. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Source: CNN, Business Insider

Following the Trumps' exit from the White House in January, the family seemingly moved back to Mar-a-Lago to live full time. Recent reports have surfaced about construction work being performed on the family's living quarters during Trump's final months in office. Sources close to the president told People in December that his 2,000-square-foot private residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach "will be expanded and spruced up." Melania Trump also just toured the $35,000-a-year Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, ostensibly for their 14-year-old son Barron. It's a 40-minute drive south from Mar-a-Lago, but also has a campus in Boca Raton, which is 10 minutes closer to West Palm Beach. Neighbors, however, aren't thrilled at the prospect and are even trying to keep him from taking up residence at Mar-a-Lago. The DeMoss family sent a letter pleading their case via an attorney. They claim that Trump cannot live at Mar-a-Lago because he signed an agreement to that effect around 30 years ago, around the time he transformed the estate into the members-only club it is today, according to the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the letter. The signatories asked the town to step in and enforce the agreement.

Trump Melania mar a lago
Trump Melania mar a lago

Donald and Melania Trump speak to press at Mar-a-Lago. AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Source: New York Times, Business Insider, Washington Post, Miami Herald

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