By Jeff Horwitz
WASHINGTON — Owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama are working to strip President Trump’s name from the 70-story building and fire the hotel management company run by Trump’s family. The property once paid at least $32 million to associate with Trump.
The uprising by Panama hotel owners — following news that Trump was effectively being paid to end a similar management contract for the Trump Soho hotel in New York — points to continued struggles for the Trump brand outside strongholds like Mar-a-Lago in Florida and the Trump Hotel in Washington.
The Trump Organization acknowledged to The Associated Press the effort to strip away the Panama property’s management and brand. It said it believed the move was a contract violation.
“Not only do we have a valid, binding and enforceable long-term management agreement, but any suggestion that the hotel is not performing up to expectations is belied by the actual facts,” the Trump Organization said in a statement.
Located on Panama City’s waterfront, the Trump hotel is within a 70-story tower in the shape of a wind-filled sail. Despite lavish amenities — visitors can sip drinks next to a 65th-floor, edgeless pool that appears to float above the ocean — it has struggled with poor 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 bulks sale of previously unsold units until earlier this year, the owners of the remaining units in the 369-room condominium hotel lacked the votes to control its management. In August, investment firm Ithaca Capital Partners of Miami, Florida, paid the Panama project’s struggling developer an undisclosed sum for the property’s restaurants, conference center and 202 long-unsold condo hotel units, giving Ithaca a singlehanded majority of the hotel owners’ votes.
At the time of the purchase, Ithaca’s managing director, Orestes Fintiklis, said his firm looked forward to working with both the other unit owners and Trump’s management team. At an owners meeting in October, however, Ithaca’s representatives proposed removing the Trump Organization’s directors from the hotel board and sending a notice of default to Trump, the first step in terminating Trump’s relationship with the property.
Ithaca did not respond to emails last week and Monday.