US tycoon Donald Trump marked his entry into the Latin American property with the Panama City opening of his 70-storey luxury resort the tallest building in Latin America.
The sail-shaped structure, soaring 284 metres into the sky, is a resort and residential address that has added to a property boom in Panama. Trump had recently provoked the anger of the country's politicians by declaring that the US had, ‘stupidly,' handed over its inter-oceanic canal.
But the opening served to reconcile Trump with the Panamanians. "I want to thank Donald Trump for coming to Panama to invest in Panama and Panamanians for this opportunity to host one of the most important and beautiful buildings," said President Ricardo Martinelli.
"I'm sure it's going to be on many postcards."
The Trump Ocean Club reflects "the modern sensibility of the new generation of luxury travel," the company said in an invitation to the inauguration of the resort, where the cheapest room costs $300 (Dh1,101) per night and homes sell for $250,000 to $1 million.
With an investment of $430 million, the resort designed by Colombian architecture firm Arias Serna Saravia is home to 47 suites, 37 elevators, a spa, marina, casino and an island with a private beach.
It also boasts a 900 square metre terrace with an oceanfront pool, personalised butler service and a convention centre stretched across 4,200 square metres. "This is the first Trump project outside of the US," Trump's son Eric told reporters during a recent visit.
The Trump chain has hotels in US cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas and is currently building another in Toronto in Canada.
Around a thousand people work at the Panama City resort, where many celebrities and wealthy patrons have bought up nearly all of the residences, according to local press reports.
The city's property boom has turned the capital of Panama into a ‘mini Dubai' of sorts, mirroring the wealthy city's skyscrapers and monumental buildings.
With the Trump tower, Panama is now home to the three tallest buildings in Latin America. Both ‘The Point,' which stands at 67 floors or 266 metres high, and ‘Ocean Two,' which is just 20 metres shorter, opened this year.
The elder Trump, 64, drew the ire of Panamanians in March when he told CNN the United States ‘stupidly' turned over control of the key Panama Canal waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, "in exchange for nothing."
The comments prompted Panama City's municipal council to unanimously declare Trump a persona non grata.
The canal was built by the US in the early 20th century and complete transfer to Panama was completed on December 31, 1999 in compliance with the treaties signed in 1977 by former Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos and US President Jimmy Carter.
Trump, a property mogul and reality TV star, recently announced that because of his ‘passion' for business, he would not run in the 2012 presidential race, silencing months of speculation.
From / Gulf News