Cuba races to build luxury hotels
Havana, Cuba – 8 June 2017 –
Towering cranes dot the Havana skyline as communist-run Cuba races to build luxury hotels, amid indignation among some residents and concern that US President Donald Trump might reverse a detente that fueled the tourist boom, Reuters reported.
Swiss-based Kempinski Hotels has inaugurated its Gran Hotel Manzana in the heart of the capital, billing it as Cuba’s first true luxury hotel. The five-star property, managed by Kempinski but owned by the Cuban government, occupies the top floors of a renovated Belle Epoque shopping mall filled with glitzy Gucci and Montblanc stores.
Farther down the iconic Paseo de Prado boulevard toward the Caribbean Sea, workers are developing two other sites into luxury hotels to be operated respectively by Spain’s Iberostar and France’s Accor, the largest hotel group in Europe.
Tourism is the one bright spot in Cuba’s moribund economy, which is struggling with falling exports and upheaval in major trade partner Venezuela.
Cuban Tourism minister Manuel Marrero said in May that more than 4.2 million tourists were expected this year, up from 4 million in 2016. He said the country was adding 2,000 hotel rooms a year to its stock of 65,000 hotel rooms and 21,000 homes renting to tourists.
The Cuban government has courted foreign hotel operators to develop untapped markets, particularly in high-end tourism.
Industry experts say Cuba, which offers a plethora of low- and mid-range accommodation, is right to bet on luxury, although it will be a challenge for operators to maintain standards in a tightly controlled Soviet-style economy.