Barely a week after Donald Trump took the oath of office, the chief executive of his hotel business has kicked a controversy by hinting at plans of an ambitious expansion across the U.S. amid calls urging Trump to divest his business holdings.
Eric Danziger, the head of Trump’s hotel-management company, has outlined his desire to expand Trump Hotels from its eight existing hotels in seven cities to 26 metropolitan areas across the U.S. It is noteworthy that Trump International hotels are also operating in Canada, Ireland, Panama and Scotland.
“There are 26 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and we’re in five,” Danziger said after a panel discussion at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t be in all of them eventually.”
Danziger expressed his hope of more than tripling the number of Trump hotels in the States by saying that Trump Hotels is “considering” opening luxury properties in Dallas, Seattle, Denver and San Francisco.
The hotel chain organization has also revealed its plans to launch a new, lower-priced brand called Scion, which would target young travelers who are looking for a hotel with a “strong sense of community”. The Scion properties would operate in smaller cities, Danziger said during the panel discussion. He went on to say that the first Scion hotel will open this year, though a location is yet to be announced for the same.
Trump has come in for a lot of flak from ethics experts and critics for not having divested his holdings entirely, which include his interests in the hotel business he launched in 2007. Instead of divesting the same, Trump has put his two elder sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, at the helm of the Trump Organization besides pledging no new foreign deals during his term as the country’s President.
“Even if his business activities are considered legal, they certainly heighten the perceived conflict,” said Wendy Patrick, a teacher of business ethics at the San Diego State University.
“Although he is now officially the leader of the free world, Donald Trump remains both a businessman and a brand,” Patrick was reported to have said in an e-mail. “The fact that the hotel chain that bears his name is seeking to expand within the United States raises questions of both law and ethics.”
Danziger’s comments come only a day after an ethics group had filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, accusing him of acting in violation of the Constitution if his businesses, including his hotels, receive revenues from a foreign government.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, and one of the several legal experts working on behalf of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that “there is no doubt” that Trump has been violating the Constitution since he took office. According to him, the lawsuit aims to reaffirm that “no person, not even the president, is above the law”.