US first lady Melania Trump ran up a six-figure hotel bill for a one-day trip to Toronto last year, according to federal spending records.
Government spending data show at least six separate Toronto hotel charges ranging from just under $12,000 to nearly $49,000 for a total of roughly $174,000. She did not spend the night.
The total was roughly eight times what it cost to house the first lady’s advance team, whose $18,000 in hotel expenses were broken out separately; in addition to the hotel charges, the first lady’s trip involved $21,000 in transportation costs.
Reports from the press pool that accompanied Trump on her September 23, 2017, Canadian excursion showed that her schedule involved multiple hotel stops. Based on those reports, this was her itinerary for the day:
12:09 pm (Sept. 23): Arrives in Toronto. The first lady travels to a downtown Sheraton, meets with Britain’s prince Harry for 20 minutes, and then departs for the Ritz-Carlton.
4 pm: Returns to Sheraton. The first lady meets with US athletes competing in the Invictus Games (an event for disabled veterans created in 2014 by prince Harry) for 20 minutes. She delivers a speech that was one minute, 15 seconds long.
6:35 pm: Arrives at Air Canada Centre. The first lady greets prime minister Justin Trudeau and his family and watches the opening ceremony of the games from a VIP suite.
12:12 am (Sept. 24): Returns to Andrews Air Force base in Maryland.
How Trump and her staff ran up nearly $200,000 in hotel bills for a 12-hour trip is unclear (the total was nearly double the $95,050 bill for a hotel in Cairo, Egypt, where she stopped for a day last month during a trip to Africa). All six charges for the first lady’s Toronto hotel bills were paid to “miscellaneous foreign awardees” rather than a specific hotel. These links will take you to the documents for each amount, rounded here to the nearest thousand:
Hotel rooms: $35,000
Hotel rooms: $12,000
Hotel rooms: $19,000
Hotel rooms: $49,000
Hotel rooms: $43,000
Hotel rooms: $16,000
The top rate at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel is currently $574 CAD ($435) per night for a premium suite, plus $100.56 CAD in taxes for a total of $674.56 CAD:
At the Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, standard rooms start at $679 CAD. The most expensive suite, the 2,415 square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite, goes for $8,000 CAD per night, plus $1,401.60 CAD in taxes
Additional hotel charges for the FLOTUS advance team for the Toronto trip came to $18,000. Three separate transportation charges for the same trip came to $21,000: one for $13,000, one for $5,000 and one for $3,000.
Asked about the details of the expenses, the first lady’s office referred specific questions to the US State Department, which told us we would need to file Freedom of Information Act requests for more information. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, also said, via email:
What I can tell you is that when the President or First Lady travels, there are people who travel ahead on the advance team to ensure safety measures, medical care, communications, motorcade needs and logistics are all in place. Mrs. Trump travels with a much smaller contingent of staff than that of her predecessors, but the entities I mentioned above are legally required for all official travel.
The previous first lady, Michelle Obama, spent $18,320 on transportation over 10 days in Copenhagen, Denmark, during a 2009 trip that included speeches and meetings to push for Chicago to be the site of the 2016 Olympic Games. Her two-day visit to Chengdu, China, in 2014 cost over $220,000 in hotel bills, the Weekly Standard reported then. The figure included expenses for her advance team, communications staff, and security.