Starwood Signs Deals In Cuba For Three Hotels

March 21, 2016

Starwood Hotels & Resorts — which is also supposed to manage the resort which is scheduled to be built in St George’s — signed three new hotel deals in Cuba, marking the first U.S. based hospitality company to enter the market in nearly 60 years.

This announcement follows receipt of authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department for Starwood to operate hotels in Cuba.

Havana-basewd 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.

Thomas B. Mangas, Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Starwood’s history of creativity, innovation, sustainability and being a first mover is core to who we are and what has made us a formidable competitor in the industry with a long, global lead.

“I am proud of our team who worked tirelessly to make today possible. With Cuba’s rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire U.S. hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point.”

CBNC video report on Cuba tourism numbers:

Kenneth S. Siegel, Starwood’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, added: “We are confident Starwood is the right partner to help write the next chapter of relations between Cuba and American business, and we moved quickly and enthusiastically to pursue opportunities following recent government actions.

“As we’ve seen throughout the world, our entry into new markets has a positive effect on local communities, preserving and protecting the culture and delicate ecosystems while improving employment opportunities, which were driving forces in our discussions.”

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 partnered with owner Gran Caribe to rebrand the renowned Hotel Inglaterra as a member of The Luxury Collection. A national landmark just steps from the Gran Teatro de La Habana in the heart of downtown Havana, the Inglaterra first opened its doors in 1875. 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 an 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. The hotel will cater to business travelers with approximately 186 rooms and state-of-the-art meeting facilities.

The Company also has signed a letter of intent with Habaguanex, owner of the Hotel Santa Isabel, to convert the nineteenth century colonial-style palace to a member of The Luxury Collection, pending U.S. Treasury Department approval.

On December 17, 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.

Last year the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association [CHTA] released a position paper on the impact for the wider tourism industry due to the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens, calling it the “biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years.”

The paper said, “The CHTA expects that those islands and countries nearest to Cuba will feel the greatest ripple effects and believes it would be wise for them to begin planning ways to mitigate those effects now.

“As for the other destinations in the Caribbean, the CHTA is of the view that the consequences might be more muted but in the end the total Caribbean travel landscape will be changed forever.

In response to the paper, the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s Chief Investment Officer Andy Burrows said, “Like the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, we believe Cuba’s inclusion as a direct visitor destination for American travellers will have a sizable impact on many tourism industries, including Bermuda’s.

“However, also like the CHTA, we believe the impact is less pronounced the further the destination is from Cuba geographically. As everyone in Bermuda knows, our destination is not geographically in the Caribbean. Our position in the Atlantic provides some insulation.

“However, Cuba should not be ignored,” Mr Burrows added. “We think the CHTA’s paper is a reminder to all of Bermuda that we must redouble efforts already underway.”

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  1. I want to reiterate:“However, Cuba should not be ignored,” Mr Burrows added. “We think the CHTA’s paper is a reminder to all of Bermuda that we must redouble efforts already underway.”