PANAMA CITY – U.S. tycoon Donald Trump marked his entry into Latin American real estate Wednesday with the opening of his 70-story luxury resort in Panama City. The structure is the tallest building in Latin America.
The sail-shaped tower, soaring 284 meters (932 feet) into the sky, is a resort and residential address that was added during a real estate boom in Panama. Trump recently provoked the ire of Panama politicians by declaring that the United States “stupidly” handed the country 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 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-meter (9,690-square-foot) terrace with an oceanfront pool, personalized butler service and a convention center stretched across 4,200 square meters (45,210 square feet).
“This is the first Trump project outside of the United States,” Trump’s son Eric told reporters during a recent visit.
The Trump chain has hotels in U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas and is currently building another in Toronto in Canada.
A thousand people work at the Panama City resort, where celebrities and wealthy patrons have bought up nearly all of the residences, according to press reports.
The city’s real estate boom has turned the capital of Panama into a “mini Dubai” of sorts, mirroring the wealthy Gulf 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 meters (872 feet) high, and “Ocean Two,” which is just 20 meters (66 feet) shorter, opened this year.
The elder Trump, 64, drew the ire of Panamanians in March when 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 United States 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 U.S, President Jimmy Carter.
Trump, a real estate mogul and reality TV star, also announced the 2013 Miss Universe pageant would be held in Panama City.
“I have accepted Mr. (Donald) Trump’s offer that Panama is the home of Miss Universe 2013,” Martinelli said during the inauguration of a resort and residential magnate in the country.
Panama hosted the contest twice before, in 1986 and 2003.