We have an American idea for President Trump: It might be a better idea to put the country's needs first ahead of attempts to make money from your elected position.
Trump Hotels is adding a new brand to its portfolio — American Idea — and unlike the company’s eponymous luxury Trump Hotels brand or its other more boutique, four-star brand, Scion, this brand will be marketed as a three-star, midscale brand that’s budget friendly, and echoes President Trump’s “America First” tagline referenced during the campaign trail.
The company made the announcement at a reception in the lower level of Trump Tower on June 5, coinciding with the 39th annual NYU Hospitality Investment Conference in New York City. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump were in attendance at the reception, as were Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger and the developer working with Trump Hotels to bring the American Idea and Scion brands to life, Dinesh Chawla, the CEO of Chawla Pointe.
A press release announcing the new American Idea brand described it as “a concept rooted in local history and neighborly service” and that the “hotels will be an alternative, for both guests and hotel developers, looking for an answer to the run-of-the-mill offerings currently in the midscale space.”
The new brand already has three signed agreements, Trump Hotels said, all for properties to be located in the Mississippi Delta area of the U.S.
Trump Hotels isn’t the only major hotel company launching a new midscale brand, either. InterContinental Hotels Group CEO of the Americas, Elie Maalouf told Skift that IHG plans to announce a new midscale brand in two weeks, as well. This brand, he said, will begin in the U.S. and Canada with new build properties, and will have a strong focus on design and technology.
The First Scion Hotel Will Open in Mississippi
The first hotel will be called Scion at West End and will open in Cleveland, Mississippi, and is slated to have a combination of 100 rooms, suites and extended stay accommodations.
In a press statement, Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger said, “We are so fortunate to partner with Dinesh and Suresh Chawla, two dynamic and highly accomplished hoteliers who work with a variety of brands. Their family has managed each one of their hotels for over 30 years but they have chosen us to manage Scion at West End. We are honored, and we look forward to a very successful relationship.”
“We are proud to work with the Trump Hotels team to bring the very first SCION hotel experience to life,” said Dinesh Chawla, CEO, Chawla Pointe, LLC. “The team has been incredibly responsive and creative, and as our partners, they have been invaluable resources for us. We are thrilled to bring this exciting project to the Mississippi Delta area.”
Reports earlier this year claimed that the first Scion property would debut in Dallas, but in April, the deal fell through when Dallas councilman Philip Kingston met with the developer of the proposed project. Kingston and a fellow council member openly opposed developer Mike Sarimsakci’s plans to go into business with the Trump Organization.
Following Sarimsakcki’s decision to scrap the plans to work with Trump, Kingston told Bloomberg: “The President is a bad brand and we have to protect the Dallas brand. We’re trying to sell ourselves internationally as a city that’s welcome and open for business travelers, new residents, innovators, young professionals and the president is an extremely bad brand. He’s a hateful and ignorant man who says things that are hurtful to the people I care about.”
Political, Ethical Challenges Face Domestic Growth of Trump Hotels
Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, his namesake hotel brand has faced a number of challenges, including ethical concerns, especially from government ethics experts who believe that the company’s decision to use external money to fund its future projects could be seen as a form of “pay to play.”
Still, the company has repeatedly said it will continue to pursue domestic growth, and official news of the first Scion property, as well as the launch of the new American Idea brand seem to confirm that strategy.
In January, Skift interviewed Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger, who told Skift that Trump the President was no longer involved with the Trump hotel company, and that the hotel company’s primary focus going forward would be on domestic growth.
“The simple truth is, is we had a lot of discussions that were related to international growth,” Danziger said. “With the presidency, we’re not going to do any international growth, because of whatever people perceive as conflicts. So, all that did was say that we’re going to have full focus — instead of some focus — on growth domestically of both Trump and Scion.”
“That is a natural outcome of being able to focus a 100-percent on that growth. But I have to say that the opportunities which exist in the United States for both brands are … You can draw your own conclusion. Why wouldn’t a great five-star brand like Trump be in every market that has a five-star market opportunity? Why wouldn’t it be?”
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Photo credit: Eric Danziger, CEO of Trump Hotels, left, joined Eric Trump, center, and Donald Trump Jr., both of whom are executive Vice Presidents of The Trump Organization, in announcing the debut of the new American Idea hotel brand. Kathy Willens / Associated Press