A rendering of Lido City, a massive entertainment and hospitality resort owned by MNC Group.
Lido City, one of Indonesia’s most anticipated hospitality development projects — a sprawling 7,400-acre complex of entertainment venues, country clubs, luxury resorts and residences in the forests of West Java, about 37 miles south of Jakarta — is finally getting off the ground following years of delays.
But at a media event earlier this week, reporters noticed that something really “yuge” was missing. The Trump Organization, which had been linked with the development since 2015, had been scrubbed from the presentation and promotional materials, as first reported by Nikkei Asia.
The Trumps “won’t likely pick up yet for the time being,” said the developer, Chinese-Indonesian tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, a self-made billionaire and nationalist strongman who proudly styles himself as the “Donald Trump of Indonesia.”
“Like Trump, he built his fortune—an estimated $1.1 billion—in real estate and media on a mountain of debt,” wrote Forbes in 2017. “He tweets nonstop to more than 1 million followers. He stages beauty pageants. He loves reality TV. He has a glamorous wife. Just as the tabloids boiled down Trump into a first name, The Donald, the Indonesian press likes to refer to Tanoesoedibjo simply as Hary.”
The similarities between Trump and Tanoesoedibjo are indeed uncanny. Both were raised by rich local-businessman fathers. Both have professed a great admiration for Vladimir Putin. And each has a long trail of allegations of tax avoidance and bullying prosecutors. Then there are the mirrored political ambitions. Tanoesoedibjo ran for Indonesia’s vice president in the 2014 elections and lost, then founded his own right-wing political party.
In August 2015, within months of launching his presidential campaign, Trump inked licensing deals with Tanoesoedibjo for two massive luxury resort properties in Indonesia: a “six-star” Trump tower and golf course on the island of Bali and a second massive resort and golf course in West Java that is part of Lido City. For both projects, the plan was for Tanoesoedibjo’s MNC Group to own and develop the properties and for Trump to bring the branding and manage the resorts through the Trump Hotel Collection.
For years, it seemed to be a mutually happy partnership. When Tanoesoedibjo attended Trump’s inauguration in 2017, he also took business meetings with Trump’s two oldest sons and bragged about his access to the U.S. president. “I don’t know whether I’m the only Indonesian invited, but I saw no one else over there,” he told Indonesia’s Tempo magazine.
In March 2019, nearly two years after the large Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali hotel was demolished to make way for the Trump-branded property, work on the Bali project had reportedly stalled. If there were any tensions, they did not prevent Tanoesoedibjo from buying the former president’s five-bedroom Beverly Hills mansion for $13.5 million two months later.
Then, in August 2019, Trump’s oldest son appeared at a pre-launch event in Jakarta, touting both the Bali and Lido projects. “Property is about location, location, location,” said Donald Trump, Jr. at the time, describing the planned Indonesian resorts as “dream projects.” Tanoesoedibjo told reporters that both properties would be developed over three years and that MNC Group was pouring $1.7 billion, reported Reuters.
Donald Trump Jr. and Hary Tanoesoedibjo give a thumbs up during a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August 2019. (Photographer: Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg)
As recently as September 2020, MNC Land was touting its Trump partnership on social media. “Inspired by the grace and charm of the area, Trump Residences Bali is tucked away in the 102-hectare grounds of Trump International Resort, Golf Club & Residences at MNC Bali Resort,” says one tweet. “With breathtaking mountain views, Trump International Golf Club Lido – an 18 holes PGA standard golf course designed by Ernie Els, offers a fascinating experience for all members to enjoy,” says another tweet. Those were the last times the #TrumpLido and #TrumpBali hashtags appeared on Twitter.
The Lido City website still highlights the 120-Trump International Resort, the Ernie Els-designed Trump Golf Club and Trump Residences Lido, “281 luxury residences and 180 condominiums that offer residents 24/7 White Glove Service and world-class privileges such as the exclusive Trump Golf & Country Club Membership.”
But the promotional materials dated February 12 reveal a notable shift in the narrative, describing a now-Trump-free project rather generically as “Luxurious International Resort, Golf Club & Residences Lido.” It’s clear that the “super-luxury resort,” Ernie Els-designed “International Golf Club Lido” and “Lido Residences” with 281 luxury residences and 180 condominiums are the same projects that once bore the Trump name.
2020 and 2021 have been tough for former President Trump. On top of two impeachments, the pandemic and losing the presidential election, his net worth dropped an estimated $600 million in the 12 months prior to September 2020. If he is also losing out on his “dream project” in Indonesia, it has got to hurt.
Neither MNC Group nor the Trump Organization responded to requests for comment.
I watch trends in travel. Prior to working at Forbes, I was a longtime freelancer who contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel +