Trumping the Condo-Hotel

The Trump International Hotel Las Vegas has been Exhibit A in the recent revival of the condo-hotel concept, in which owners rent their property to tourists as hotel nights. Trump sold 19 new condo-hotel units through July, already eclipsing last year’s 13 units, thanks in part to prices that are in many cases just a third of their $1,200-per-square-foot boom-era peak.

But the latest news suggests another market may be ready to take off: The Trump Organization sold 300 units in a deal that reportedly fetched about $100 million to Hilton Grand Vacations, which will offer the units in time-share increments starting next year.

Eric Trump, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president of development, says it was the right deal at the right time. After all, who wouldn’t want to unload 300 units in a condo market with plenty more foreclosures to work through? But is this also a sign that Trump may be losing confidence in the Las Vegas condo-hotel concept?

Robert Woods, a professor at UNLV’s Harrah’s College of Hotel Administration and time-share industry expert, doesn’t think so. Since the start of the recession, time-share groups such as Hilton have been looking for existing inventory to gobble up instead of building new properties. It’s cheaper and makes more business sense, he says.

Trump still has about 200 more condo-hotel units to sell in Las Vegas. The condo-hotel is not dead, he says, hinting that he’d even love to build that once-promised second tower someday.

Even if he has to sell it 1/52nd of a unit at a time.