Starwood Hotels is on course to become the first to agree Cuban deal
Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands and is famed for its white-sand beaches, rolling mountains, cigars and rum. However since the revolution which saw the government of Batista fall in 1959, the island has been in isolation after sanctions were imposed by the Organisation of American States.
Since the Obama administration lifted some of the travel restrictions that were imposed on American citizens, relations between the two countries have begun to thaw. This is illustrated by President Obama, who is currently on a visit to Cuba and is the first American President to do so for 90 years.
There is now hope that Cuba will soon be on the itinerary of holiday makers and in anticipation it has been announced that Starwood Hotels has become the first US hotel company to agree a deal to invest in properties on the island since the revolution ended in 1959. Another global hotelier Marriott’s are also in discussions and soon hope to team up with local partners on the island to develop hospitality there. Arne Sorenson, who is Marriott’s chief executive officer, is accompanying the President, in his role as vice chair of Obama’s Export Council.
The agreement with Starwood involves three hotels in Cuba, the 83 roomed Hotel Inglaterra, which opened in 1875, and they are partnered with owner Gran Caribe to rebrand the property into a member of The Luxury Collection. The186-room Hotel Quinta Avenida, located in the Miramar district of Havana, is owned by Grupo de Turismo Gaviota S.A., and overlooking Havana harbour, the 27 room The Hotel Santa Isabel, which is owned by Habaguanex.
In a comment made by Arne Sorenson he said: “We are gratified to receive permission from the US government to pursue business opportunities in Cuba.” He went on to explain that these opportunities will be of benefit to the Cuban people and also have the effect of bringing both Americans and Cubans closer together.
Currently Starwood is in the middle of a takeover battle between Marriott and the Chinese business Anbang Insurance, which already owns New York’s Waldorf Astoria, has made a $13 billion bid for Starwood, trumping an offer by Marriott, who have until the 28th March to improve their offer.