Vancouver’s Trump Hotel has permanently closed, citing the pandemic, but it could reopen under another brand.
The land and building is owned by TA Global Berhad, a multinational Malaysian property company headed by Joo Kim Tiah, which paid to license rights to use the Trump name.
Three of U.S. President Donald Trump’s children — Donald Jr., Eric and Tiffany — were on hand to cut the ribbon at the $360-million complex opened on Feb. 28, 2017.
TA Global said its two of its Canadian subsidiaries, which leased and ran Trump Hotel and Tower Vancouver, are insolvent after the pandemic hobbled the hotel business, with revenue plummeting while expenses continued. The closure of the hotel has left hundreds of hotel employees out of work.
TA Global said TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership and TA Hotel GP Ltd. are bankrupt. TA Hotel Management’s bankruptcy filing showed it had assets of $1.104 million and debts of $4.795 million. Grant Thornton Ltd. was named bankruptcy trustee.
Naming the 147-room hotel for the American president was unpopular locally. There were protests outside, including on opening day. Gregor Robertson, then the city’s mayor, asked for the Trump name to be removed, describing it as having “no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world.”
Lindsay Meredith, a Simon Fraser University marketing professor emeritus, said TA Global probably “wish to hell they hadn’t” licensed rights to the Trump name.
“They’re probably looking at it as a convenient way to dump a deal they made,” Meredith said. “The Trump brand historically looked to be relatively stable, but it’s become ever-mercurial and a bloody lightning rod.”
“If it was me, I would try to get out of that deal and take the financial hit,” said Kerry Jang, who was a city councillor and opposed the use of the Trump name when the hotel opened.
“Quite frankly, it would make good business sense,” Jang said. He suggested any future development here by TA Global subsidiaries — including the high-profile Holborn Group developer — might have faced protests over the Trump name.
The Washington Post said that since Trump became U.S. president, three other hotels bearing his name have cut ties with the brand and reopened under other names. In Vancouver, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has reportedly been looking for a hotel since losing its lease at its Pacific Centre location earlier this year.
TA Global, which has a market cap equivalent to $440 million Cdn, also owns and runs commercial properties in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China and Australia. Among them are hotels that are associated with other brands including Radisson and Movenpick, and the AAVA Whistler, which reopened in June.
Holborn Group, which built the Trump hotel building, owns several major properties here, including Vancouver’s Little Mountain site.
Tiah would not comment further. Grant Thornton did not respond to inquiries. Inquiries to the Trump Organization, which is owned by the U.S. President, but run day-to-day by his sons, also went unanswered.
The bankruptcy filing also affected the 200-unit condominium section of the tower because owners relied on TA Hotel Management Limited Partnership to operate the building itself. The strata council assured residents it was making arrangements to ensure basic services in the building would be maintained .
With files from Scott Brown