Mrs. Trump has become more withdrawn while at Mar-a-Lago — a likely reflection of the glare of the presidency
While President Donald Trump stays in Washington, D.C. — stirring controversy after controversy, battling headlines, tweeting about his accomplishments and mocking his foes — First Lady Melania Trump prefers to escape when she can to the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Her comfort there is based on years of familiarity, as recently detailed by CNN.
PEOPLE confirmed the basics of CNN’s account of Mrs. Trump’s Palm Beach routine. Reached for comment on this article, her spokeswoman claimed “much” of the reporting wasn’t accurate but declined to provide specifics.
“She does travel there with her son during his holiday breaks as has always been family tradition,” Stephanie Grisham said. (Mrs. Trump spent nearly three weeks there this past New Year’s Eve.) “And she and the president usually dine together, yes.”
Mrs. Trump has been coming to the exclusive club for almost 10 years without her husband and often only spends time with son Barron, 13, her parents and sister and her husband when he does fly down. The Trumps held their 2005 wedding reception at Mar-a-Lago.
“She has a long history with Palm Beach … but she stays to herself for most part,” Laurence Leamer, author of Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace, told CNN.
Mrs. Trump used to go to the club spa and shop on local Worth Avenue, but she has become more withdrawn over time — a likely reflection of the glare of the presidency.
Now she travels on an Air Force plane and is regularly accompanied by her spokeswoman. But other things are the same: The family’s private space at the club does not come with corresponding private amenities such as their own pool or spa or a private drive. The menus are still tailored to President Trump’s taste for very well-cooked meat.
Privacy — and a retreat to the kind of old-world luxury which shrouds Mar-a-Lago — seems to be what Mrs. Trump seeks. Her family (particularly her son) is her focus while there.
She also takes walks alone around the estate and, since becoming first lady, meets with her staff about her White House work.
Like his wife, President Trump, who bought the massive estate for a reported $10 million, loves spending time at Mar-a-Lago. There he is insulated through sheer branding from most criticism of his polarizing tenure in the White House.
The Trumps don’t go to restaurants in Palm Beach, instead staying inside the confines of the club or, in the president’s case, taking trips to his nearby golf course.
According to a source, the two have separate bedrooms in their Mar-a-Lago lodgings.
At the club, Mrs. Trump is never far from members, fans and supporters but she often keeps to herself. When she and the president dine together, there are usually others at their table, including family.
Mar-a-Lago was one of the first places that President Trump took his wife when they first began dating in the late 1990s.
It’s “the one place where [the president] feels truly relaxed, he feels comfortable there,” Leamer told CNN, “and I think that’s true of her as well.”
Or as a club source told PEOPLE in February: “[The president] loves to be here. No matter what else is happening in the world, he is treated like royalty at Mar-a-Lago.”
• With reporting by ADAM CARLSON