Starwood first US hotel company to operate in Cuba after 60 years

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide today signed three hotel deals in Cuba, marking the first U.S. based hospitality company to enter the market in nearly 60 years.

Long-time Havana icon, Hotel Inglaterra, will join The Luxury Collection and Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. Both hotels will undergo renovations before raising their new brand flags later in 2016. The Company also announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent to convert the famed Hotel Santa Isabel into a member of The Luxury Collection.

Starwood partners with Gran Caribe, Grupo de Turismo Gaviota S.A. and Habaguanex to re enter in the Cuban market and will revamp all the propperties to operate them under different Starwood brands.

“…We plan to cultivate local talent, provide career enriching opportunities, and locally source art, décor, food, and materials to ensure we deliver authentic experiences,” Keith Grossman, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Starwood explains on Starwood’s plans for Cuba.

Hotel Inglaterra (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Inglaterra.
Hotel Inglaterra (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Inglaterra.

Jorge Giannattasio, Starwood’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Latin America Operations, said: “We are excited to add this sought-after destination to our growing Latin American and Caribbean portfolio, and offer our loyal guests more choice in this evolving market. Hotel conversions, like those we announced today, allow us to preserve history, architecture and culture while offering a unique branded experience. With our long-standing, locally based and highly experienced team in Latin America and the Caribbean, we look forward to welcoming guests to Cuba for many decades to come.”

Starwood has signed its first three hotels in Cuba just  before the first official trip of a President of the United States to Cuba in nearly 90 years. Barack and Michelle Obama along with thir two daughters will arrive in Cuba on 20th March to begin a State visit that will last in principle until the 22nd of this same month.

Partnership with Gran Caribe and Grupo de Tursimo Gaviota

Starwood has partnered with owner Gran Caribe to rebrand the renowned Hotel Inglaterra as a member of The Luxury Collection.

Just steps from the Gran Teatro de La Habana in the heart of downtown Havana, the Inglaterra first opened its doors in 1875.

Hotel Inglaterra (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Inglaterra.
Hotel Inglaterra (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Inglaterra.

This national landmark is home to the famed Gran Café el Louvre, which has hosted artists and travelers for over a century. Upon completion of the preservation and conversion projects later this year, the hotel will offer 83 rooms and reopen under The Luxury Collection banner.

Starwood has signed another agreement with Grupo de Turismo Gaviota S.A., owner of Hotel Quinta Avenida in Havana’s Miramar district, to rebrand the hotel as Four Points by Sheraton Havana later this year. With approximately 186 rooms, the hotel is planned to meet the needs of business travelers and state-of-the-art meeting facilities.

Letter of intent with Habaguanex

The Company also has signed a letter of intent with Habaguanex, owner of the famed Hotel Santa Isabel, to transform the nineteenth century colonial-style palace into a member of The Luxury Collection.

Hotel Santa Isabel (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Santa Isabel.
Hotel Santa Isabel (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Santa Isabel.

Located in the Plaza de Armas and overlooking Havana Harbor, the Santa Isabel will offer 27 rooms, including 11 suites to Starwood guests. A conveniently situated respite in the heart of Havana’s historic city center.
The deal with Habaguanex is still pending U.S. Treasury Department approval.

A step forward in the resume of Cuba-USA broken relations

Starwood’s announcement on the entri in the Cuban market follows receipt of authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department for Starwood to operate hotels in Cuba.

On December 17th, 2014, President Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and in August 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba was reestablished. Then, last month, the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement that provides U.S. airlines the opportunity to operate up to 110 daily roundtrip flights, which would resume commercial airline service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years and promises to vastly increase the number of Americans traveling to Cuba.

Hotel Santa Isabel (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Santa Isabel.
Hotel Santa Isabel (La Habana, Cuba). © Hotel Santa Isabel.

Starwood was advised by D17 Strategies, a consulting firm providing strategic counsel to clients seeking to carry out Cuban trade, investment, travel, and exchanges permitted under new U.S. regulations.

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