Developers plan upscale hotels for Havana

Iberostar Hotels & Resorts will open its first Cuban luxury hotel in Old Havana in the fourth quarter of 2018. 
Iberostar's new Grand Packard in Havana has boosted the city's upscale-rooms stock. Photo credit: Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Havana is expecting a major boost in hotel development ahead of its 500th anniversary in November, according to Cuba's official newspaper Granma. The city is set to open a total of 12 hotels and add another 1,121 rooms to its supply.

According to recent statements from Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero, the city is looking to build facilities that will attract international business travelers. Marrero estimated of the 12,000 guestrooms in Havana, a full 44 percent are midscale or below (two to three stars), so more upscale development is necessary.

The country has seen several high-end openings in recent months, including the Grand Packard Hotel, a 321-room property managed by Spain’s Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, which currently operates 27 hotels with 7,881 rooms on the island. In September, Paris-based AccorHotels announced plans to open the SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado in 2020 in the country’s capital, marking the brand’s debut in the Americas. AccorHotels already has a presence in Cuba with the Hotel Mercure Sevilla Havane and the Pullman Cayo Coco.  

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Other upcoming properties include the Hotel Línea y N, Hotel Cueto, Marqués de Monte Hermoso, Gran Hotel, Prado y Malecón, Hotel Vedado Azul, Hotel Universitario and Portales de Paseo.

Other properties, including the New York, Deauville, Lincoln, Riviera, Habana Libre, Sevilla, Cohíba, Colina, Vedado St Johns, Neptuno Tritón and Copacabana, are slated to undergo renovations and repairs.

Granma did not say how much these investments would cost, but United Press International noted China's Xinhua news agency quoted Marrero in September as saying Chinese companies are investing about $700 million in the "construction of new, high-standard hotels and the development of other tourism projects." While Chinese tourist visits are still relatively small at about 46,000 annually, Cuban officials are working to increase the number by trying to get direct flights from Beijing to Havana, UPI reported.

Cuba was set to end 2018 with a record 4.8 million visits, up from 4.7 million in the previous year. Most visitors are from Canada, the United States and Europe, according to UPI.