Starwood Hotels heads to Cuba
The travel industry rejoiced when the United States lifted the longstanding ban on US travel to Cuba, with roundtrip flights now available. Following this celebration, Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced that they signed three hotel deals in Cuba, making them the first US hospitality brand in nearly 60 years to develop properties in this beautiful land. Being the first to market is a monumental triumph for Starwood, and all of their properties around the globe.
Starwood will operate and renovate two existing hotels in Havana – the Hotel Inglaterra will join Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand and the Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. They will also convert the Hotel Santa Isabel, also in Havana, into a Luxury Collection property.
The Four Points by Sheraton Havana is already up and running, with 180 guestrooms and six suites overlooking the pool and the surrounding city. This luxury hotel features six floors of guest rooms, and several restaurants, including a 5th Ave Cigar bar with a cigar sommelier and tobacco twisting. It also features a Lobby Bar Daiquiri, with nightly live music and entertainment, along with Cuban and international cocktails and snacks.
Starwood is capitalizing on the Cuban excitement, as Travel + Leisure named Cuba the Destination of the year for 2015, and American’s are delighted to be able to finally visit Cuba since the strictly imposed restrictions. Another key factor in the excitement is the proximity to the United States, as Cuba is only 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, making the travel times palatable for most Americans.
Although travel to Cuba from the United States has been banned, tourism from Europe and Latin America has been flourishing for years. Starwood is planning on capturing those tourists, as well as the new American travelers. With the lifted ban, international visitors to Cuba is on the rise, and according to the 2015 World Travel & Tourism Council report, the number of international visitors to Cuba is estimated to reach 4.83 million by 2025.
Even President Obama and his family visited Cuba, making him the first US president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 to visit Cuba – that’s 88 years ago! This presidential travel and its global publicity increased awareness around travel to Cuba.
Experts are predicting that the tourism boom in Cuba is going to continue. While Starwood is the first American hotel company to operate in Cuba, other chains are sure to follow.