As U.S. President Barack Obama and his family arrived to Cuba on Sunday, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced 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. Long-time Havana icon, 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.
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 and is home to the famed Gran Café el Louvre, which has hosted artists and travelers for over a century. 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 famed Hotel Santa Isabel, to convert the nineteenth century colonial-style palace to a member of The Luxury Collection, pending U.S. Treasury Department approval. Situated on the Plaza de Armas and overlooking Havana Harbor, the Santa Isabel will offer Starwood guests a conveniently situated respite in the heart of Havana’s historic city center, with 27 rooms, including 11 suites.
Steps to Groundbreaking Announcement
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 and promises to vastly increase the number of Americans traveling to Cuba.
Keith Grossman, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Starwood, concluded: “Through our discussions and due diligence, it became clear that Starwood was the right choice for its unique approach to hospitality, sustainability and design that would enrich the local communities and enhance the guest experience. We plan to cultivate local talent, provide career enriching opportunities, and locally source art, décor, food, and materials to ensure we deliver authentic experiences.”
Starwood was advised by D17 Strategies, a consulting firm providing strategic counsel to clients seeking to carry out Cuban trade, investment, travel, and exchanges permitted under new U.S. regulations.