The opening of the 147-room Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1161 West Georgia Street has been pushed to at least January, the hotel’s general manager told Business in Vancouver October 12.
The original opening date was set for June 2016.
“Constructionwise, we’re just not there,” said Philip Posch, who has been based in Vancouver and was the project’s first hire, in July 2015.
“I know people are trying to read things into it but if you walk by the construction site, you can see that there’s still work going on.”
The Trump hotel, which occupies 15 storeys of the 69-storey tower, has been a lightening rod for critics of controversial presidential candidate Donald Trump, who owns the Trump Organization, which will manage the hotel.
Just last week, a large group of protestors set up a faux voting booth in an effort to encourage Americans living in Vancouver to register to vote.
A campaign also launched last December to have Vancouver-based Holborn Group remove the Trump name from the project.
Holborn owns the hotel, is paying the Trump Organization a management fee and will reap any profit from the venture.
Prominent figures such as Coun. Kerry Jang and Mayor Gregor Robertson supported the campaign to have Holborn remove the Trump name from the project but Holborn CEO Joo Kim Tiah said that contracts had already been signed and that the branding was a done deal. Hotel valuation experts then predicted that it would be very expensive for Holborn to sever the contract with Trump.
Posch would not comment on Trump’s political campaign or his recent controversies, such as a video tape where he is heard saying that because he is a star he is able to grab women by the genitals and that they let him do it.
Posch also would not say whether he believes it would be good or bad for the hotel’s occupancy rate if Trump were to win the election.
He expects construction to complete within the next few weeks and he said that the hotel then needs to get occupancy permits and to train staff. Finding employees was not a problem, he said, because the company was inundated with applications.
“We felt that with the holidays coming up that January is probably a more realistic date [to open the hotel,]” Posch said.
“If we open up in November, we would have to start training pretty much now or next week and we just don’t have the permits yet.”
As recently as August, Posch had been planning for a November opening and the hotel had taken reservations.
With the construction delay, the hotel’s staff had to help those guests find new accommodation.
“We didn’t just throw it on them, saying, “sorry, fend for yourself,’ we got alternatives in a similar concept,” Posch said.
“We had some cheaper options. It was up to the guest what they wanted to do and we helped them secure that reservation. I heard nothing but great feedback from the guests who we did relocate.”
The interiors of the rooms are largely complete and Posch said he gets exhilarated when he visits some of the suites.
“It’s incredible when you walk in the room,” he said. “You see the linens and the bathrobes and hear the music and see the big 65-inch TV. It truly, it sounds funny to say, but it’s truly magical.”