ARCHIVE – This file photo of July 4, 2011 shows the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, third building from the left, in the city of Panama. The owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama are working to remove the name of President Donald Trump from the 70-story building and fire the hotel management company run by the Trump family. The property once paid at least $ 32 million to partner with Trump. (Arnulfo Franco, Archive / Associated Press)
By Jeff Horwitz | AP By Jeff Horwitz | AP November 27 at 2:25 PM
WASHINGTON – The owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama are working to remove the name of President Donald Trump from the 70-story building and fire the hotel management company directed by the Trump family. The property once paid at least $ 32 million to partner with Trump.
The uprising of hotel owners in Panama, following the news that Trump was actually paid to terminate a similar administration contract for the Trump Soho hotel in New York, points to continued struggles for the Trump brand outside of bastions like Mar-a-Lago in Florida and the Trump Hotel in Washington.
The Trump Organization recognized before the Associated Press the effort to strip the management and brand of the property of Panama. He said he believed the move was a violation of the contract.
"Not only do we have a valid, mandatory and enforceable long-term management agreement, but any suggestion that the hotel is not working up to expectations is denied by the real events," the Trump Organization said. a statement.
on the waterfront of Panama City, the Trump Hotel is inside a 70-story tower in the shape of a candle full of wind. Despite the luxurious amenities, visitors can have drinks next to an edgeless pool of the 65th floor that seems to float over the ocean, has had problems with little occupancy.
"I bought there because I thought Trump's name made it a safe investment," said Al Monstavicius, a retired Nevada doctor who owns a penthouse hotel unit in the Panama project. "But Latinos are a real problem for him in Panama."
Before the sale in bulk of units that were not previously sold until the beginning of this year, the owners of the remaining units in the 369-room condo hotel lacked the votes to control their management. In August, the investment firm Ithaca Capital Partners of Miami, Florida, paid the developer in difficulties of the Panama project an undisclosed sum for the restaurants, the conference center and 202 unsold condo-hotel units, giving Ithaca the Most votes from hotel owners.
At the time of purchase, Ithaca managing director Orestes Fintiklis said his company was looking forward to working with the other owners of the unit and the Trump management team. However, at a meeting of owners in October, Ithaca representatives proposed to remove the directors of the Trump Organization from the hotel board and send a notice of default to Trump, the first step to end Trump's relationship with the property. .
Ithaca did not respond to emails last week and on Monday, and there is no public listing for the company or its CEO. No one voted against Ithaca's proposal, according to three people who were present or voted for power.
"They were given 30 days to heal," said Jeffrey Rabiea, a New York businessman who owns three units in the building. It was not clear if the owners sent Trump a formal notice of noncompliance. Rabiea said that Ithaca and the owners were already looking for a new hotel operator to manage the property under a different brand.
Monstavicius, who said the occupation in his penthouse hotel suite has been running at only 30 percent in recent months, praised the move to oust Trump.
"It can not get worse," said Monstavicius.
Both men, along with another owner who spoke with AP on condition of anonymity due to litigation issues, said their units were not profitable, with occupancy rates too low even to cover the cost of maintaining their units.
Owners of apartments and hotel units on Panama property have previously complained about the problems with the Trump administration. The AP reported in October 2015, when Trump was running for president, that the apartment owners in the building had rebelled for alleged mismanagement, dismissing the Trump manager from the building's general board.
Trump responded with an arbitration claim of millions of dollars in damages, but the claim was finally resolved and Trump remained manager of the hotel component of the tower.
Trump's company at that time threatened to sue the AP for its coverage, saying that the complaint had damaged Trump's business interests. No claim was ever filed and Trump never identified or alleged factual errors in AP coverage.
The completion would mark a new setback for the hotel business of the Trump family, which already lacked the scale of the main international chains that cater to business travelers. The family announced two new hotel brands after the presidential elections, Scion and American Idea, and said it has already signed dozens of letters of intent with potential licensees, but tangible progress in the form of permits and construction has been scarce.
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