“It makes sense that he wants to be there and will make the mansion his home,” a source says of the president, who has not yet publicly acknowledged he lost the election

By Linda Marx
December 03, 2020 05:31 PM
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When Donald Trump leaves the White House on Jan. 20, he will likely head to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. That's where he and First Lady Melania Trump filed their "declaration of domicile" last year, switching their permanent residences from New York City.

The White House is, of course, staying mum about his post-presidency plans, at least publicly, while he continues to make baseless allegations of fraud in the election he lost.

Privately, however, aides acknowledge they're all on their way out.

And the staff at Mar-a-Lago have been preparing the way, including renovating Trump's 2,000-square-foot residence at the club, which he purchased in the '80s.

“Donald’s apartment, which once belonged to Mar-a-Lago estate creator Marjorie Merriweather Post, will be expanded and spruced up,” a source close to the president tells PEOPLE.

“They are definitely renovating his apartment within the Mar-a-Lago Club to make it larger, more modern and comfortable for his use,” this source says. (Sources have told PEOPLE he and the first lady have separate bedrooms in their Mar-a-Lago lodgings.)

From left: Barron, Donald and Melania Trump arrive for a New Year's party at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 31, 2017.
| Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

Some of those around Trump, 74, say he and the first family are expected to spend significant time in Palm Beach while dividing the remaining time between other properties — such as his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Trump Tower in New York City.

But Mar-a-Lago is likely to be the centerpiece of any plans, in part because of how warmly received the Trumps are in the area compared to elsewhere in the country. It is also a favored retreat of the first lady, 50.

“He wouldn’t want to be in Palm Beach in the dead of summer, but he doesn’t have to be so it can work out well,” a Mar-a-Lago Club member tells PEOPLE.

“He loves Palm Beach and his friends here,” the member says of the president. “And his golf club is minutes away in West Palm Beach.”

As a club source previously told PEOPLE: “No matter what else is happening in the world, he is treated like royalty at Mar-a-Lago. He loves to be here.”

From left: Barron, Donald and Melania Trump sit with their family as they have Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago in 2018.
| Credit: Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock
From left: President Donald Trump, son Barron Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2015

“Mar-a-Lago is iconic, a building he took great pride in renovating when he bought it,” one source says now, adding, “It makes sense that he wants to be there and will make the mansion his home.”

The club apartment for Mrs. Trump's parents — who have remained close at hand in Washington, D.C. — is also undergoing renovation in anticipation of their relocation while the president and first lady's 14-year-old son, Barron Trump, attends school in Florida, PEOPLE understands.

Though the first lady's parents had typically been holiday guests at the club, it is expected they will be in Palm Beach for large chunks of time to help raise their grandson.

“Melania is checking out a good Florida school for Barron,” another source close to the family tells PEOPLE.

“They have looked all over Palm Beach County and neighboring Broward County for just the right place,” this source says. “There are several options, and they will decide soon.”

(In addition to the personal renovations, the staff at Mar-a-Lago have had to fix weather-related damage to the grand ballroom: There was a leak in the roof dripping into the opulent crystal chandelier-filled space.)

Spokespeople for the president did not respond to a request for comment; neither did the Mar-a-Lago manager. But a White House source says, “The Trump family has many homes and they will be traveling between them.”

• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON