Cuba has seen a surge in foreign travellers as of late, spurred in part by the addition of Americans who now qualify for travel to the island. Ever since the U.S. announced an easing of diplomatic relations between the two countries in late 2014 travel restrictions have also eased, giving more
U.S. travellers reason to book holidays to Cuba.
As explained in an article published on Skift this is
straining the supply of available hotel rooms. While private “casas particulares” have helped stem some of the flow, there are a number of hotel projects currently in the works that will appeal to foreign visitors, many of which include foreign partnerships. The 2014 Foreign Investment Law (RIL) allows for foreign companies to partner with companies in Cuba in hotel administration, golf course construction and development. Cuba does not currently allow for 100-percent foreign ownership.
Author Claire Boobbyer places the
hotel options listed in the article in three categories: boutique hotels, big brands and resorts.
As for the boutique-style hotels, they include
Malecon 663, set to open at the end of 2016. Located on Havana’s popular Malecon, the colonial building is being redesigned to include a concept store and cafe. As well, the Trinidad property of Mansion Alameda is expected to open by spring of next year.
Meanwhile the company behind the
stylish Loft Habana, which opened last year, is now working on the Vista Alegre boutique casa of
El Trianon. It also has plans for at least eight more boutiques over the next several years, currently working on properties in Camaguey, Vinales and Cienfuegos.
There’s also the option of a
luxury penthouse in Havana from Cuban designer Ydalgo Martinez.
Big brand hotels
The author continues by mentioning some of the
major international hotels that have signed on to management agreements with Cuban companies. U.S.-based Starwood was the first American company to sign-on to a deal in Cuba in more than 50 years. A management contract allowed for the former Hotel Quinta Avenida to open this past June as a Four Points Havana by Sheraton. Additionally, Starwood hopes to open Hotel Inglaterra under its Luxury Collection brand in early November and intends to operate under the same brand the Hotel Santa Isabel on Plaza de Armas.
As well, a French company has plans for three Cuban properties and French architects are involved in resurrecting hundreds of rooms at
Hotel Packard near Prado and Malecon. Another hotel operator in Old Havana is planning on opening several properties between 2017 and 2019, plus the towering and modern Hotel Arte, with ties to Canada, is planned for a late 2017 delivery.
Outside of Havana hotel companies from Singapore and Thailand are planning to open several properties and resorts, one of which will be
the first to include over-water villas in Cuba.
Iberostar is opening a beachside hotel on Cayo Guillermo and one in Varadero in late 2016. Spanish-based Melia, Cuba’s largest hotel operator, has plans for an all-inclusive hotel in Varadero where Hotel Internacional once stood. Additionally, plans call for hotels in Trinidad and a luxury property near Santa Clara.
A French company is developing
another luxury property into the La Popa church in Trinidad, while there’s also the possibility of putting properties in Vinales Valley and close to Havana’s Partagas cigar factory.
Other options include the resorts and golf courses, which allow for foreigners to purchase accommodations. These include the planned joint UK/Cuban venture of a hotel, golf course and villas east of Havana and west of Varadero. However,
those behind Carbonera Resort hope to become the actual first to break ground with their development by late 2016, completing it by 2020 and bringing residences, a hotel and a golf course to the island.
Another venture involves a Canadian company, which aims
to develop land east of Havana into four hotels, apartments, villas and a golf course. The Village at Jibacoa could break ground in fall 2017. In addition, a condo, hotel and golf project is also aimed for Guanabo, Playas del Este.
Two Spanish companies are also being eyed for
possible golf resorts in Punta Colorada and El Salado, while another is trying to secure financing for a resort and several golf courses not far from Cienfuegos.
In advance of the 2014 announcement that touched off a wave of American travellers coming to the island, Cuba had already been constructing some hotels and resorts, mostly aimed at European and Canadian tourists. While these included mostly beach resorts, there were also some built in Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa and Camaguey.
A fourth hotel in Vinales is currently under construction.
Uptick of travellers
More than 3.5 million people visited Cuba last year, up 17-percent from 2014. Many of them have been
Americans, lured to visit the island for the first time in decades due to the loosening of travel restrictions. Currently Americans must fall under one of the 12 approved travel categories to visit Cuba, including cultural interaction, commonly bringing many travellers to some of the larger cities such as Havana. Still, though, travellers are finding a variety of sites and attractions available in the country, immersing themselves in Cuban culture and tradition in record numbers.