Tourism & Cruises

Far-right conference to bring Sarah Sanders, Matt Gaetz to Trump’s Doral resort

President Donald Trump’s Miami resort will serve as a venue for an ultra-conservative conference in October.

Political group American Priority chose Trump National Doral to host its second annual AMPfest Oct. 10-12. The conference will “support free Speech and free association while also highlighting American Culture,” according to its website. Scheduled speakers include such well-known conservatives as former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders; Charlie Kirk, founder of the youth organization Turning Point USA; author Dinesh D’souza and U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) of the Panhandle.

The conference comes at a time when the president’s Miami hotel is struggling. In December, a consultant for the Trump Organization successfully urged the Miami-Dade Value Adjustment Board to lower the property’s value, citing an 18 percent revenue shortfall since 2015.

The hotel’s best-known event, the PGA Tour, left Trump Doral in 2016 after Cadillac reduced its sponsorship. The American Priority conference is the latest in a series of events more aligned with Trump’s politics to fill its void. The private prison company GEO Group and a pay-day lenders trade group moved their annual corporate gatherings to Trump Doral in 2017 and 2018. The Republican Governors Association and the Republican National Committee have also met at the hotel.

Earlier this month, Axios reported Trump is considering the property for the Group of Seven meeting of the largest advanced economies in 2020. Trump visited the hotel for the first time as president in June.

Last year’s American Priority conference held at a Marriott in Washington, D.C., was not very well attended, according to Politico. The conference’s organizer Alex Phillips said that security at the D.C. hotel was not as tight as the organizers would have liked.

“We didn’t find the area very hospitable and friendly to what we were trying to do,” said Phillips in an interview.

This year the group migrated south to the Trump property in Miami, which has been more receptive to its message, Phillips said. Of the hotels American Priority considered, Trump Doral was among the cheaper bids, he said.

This year’s preliminary agenda features a topic called “Is America in a Great Awakening?” — a slogan associated with the Internet conspiracy theory called QAnon, which alleges Trump is working with former special counsel Robert Mueller to take down a ring of “deep state” actors.

Phillips said the topic on the group’s website is a reference to a Trump speech in which the president called for a “great reawakening.”

QAnon was repeatedly referenced at the group’s 2018 event. Phillips likened followers of QAnon to people who are devoted to checking their horoscopes.

“Does that mean they’re crazy? No,” he said. Phillips said the topic will likely be replaced in the final agenda.

Tickets for the event start at $250, which doesn’t include a hotel room. Students with an ID can get in for $50.

Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.
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