President Donald Trump has spent decades honing a luxury brand around his last name, but since he won the 2016 election, the Trump name has taken on political weight. According to reports on Tuesday, a Trump hotel in Toronto will remove his name from the property, paying at least $6 million in fees to do so.
The hotel in Canada ― still technically the Trump International Hotel & Tower, although that will soon change ― will likely be operated under Marriott's St. Regis brand, and signage could be removed as early as Aug. 1 onwards. According to Bloomberg, the hotel is angling for an overhaul; recently, it become a go-to site for Canadians to protest Trump's controversial policies and inflammatory rhetoric.
The Trump Organization, however, does not own the property. (Trump has resigned from his roles in his companies, but he has not divested and maintains ownership stakes. He is the beneficiary of a trust overseeing his interest, which his sons Eric and Don Jr. run.) Like many hotels around that world that bear the Trump name, the company is merely the holder of the naming rights, in contrast to his flagship building and home base in New York City, Trump Tower, which he owns outright.
Trump's personal popularity in Canada is very low; a poll in May found that Canadian sentiment towards the U.S. soured considerably after his election. A firm 53 percent majority of Canadians now have an unfavorable opinion of America, with 22 percent of them having a strongly unfavorable view. According to Newsweek, these are the lowest numbers as far as Canadian approval towards America that the poll has found in more than 30 years, representing a slide of more than 20 points since the departure of former president Barack Obama.
The Toronto hotel's decision to change its name displays a potential cost to the president's business empire, thanks to his controversial political career. Although concerns have swirled since he took office about whether his refusal to fully divest from his businesses constitutes a violation of the U.S. Constitution ― specifically, of the emoluments clause ― critics point to the many Trump businesses around the world that could unduly flourish by virtue of his current position of power and influence.
While it remains to be seen if this move ultimately benefits the hotel, it will drop the world's total number of Trump-branded properties by one. Insofar as Trump has similar arrangements with multiple international hotels that bear his name, but it's unclear if his controversial presidency will move more properties to take similar steps.