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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Starwood signs historic deal to manage 3 hotels in Cuba

As the diplomatic ties between US and Cuba continue to strengthen, Starwood Hotels & Resorts just signed a historic deal giving it control over 3 hotels in Havana which is likely just the start of many more to come. This represents the first time an American hospitality company has struck a deal with the Cuban authorities since 1959 and comes just on the eve of President Obama's historic visit to Cuba which is the first by an American president in over 90 years.

The 3 hotels are the Hotel Inglaterra and Hotel Santa Isabel which will both become part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection and the Hotel Quinta Avenida, which will become a Four Points by Sheraton hotel.

The Hotel Quinta Avenida, a 186-room business hotel in the upscale district of Miramar
The Hotel Santa Isabel is still pending a license approval by the US Treasury Department but the other two hotels have already been approved. They will all undergo extensive multi-million dollar renovations to bring the hotels up to the quality and standards expected from the Starwood brand and will be a warm welcome to a country where hotel accommodations are often somewhat lacking.

Tourists take in the sites at Cathedral Square in Old Havana on Saturday as Cuba prepares for the visit of President Obama . (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tourism in Cuba is already at an all time high since the US started to ease its travel restrictions to the country a few years ago and that number is expected to increase exponentially as US commercial flights begin their daily flights to at least 10 different Cuban destinations. Currently, all flights between the two countries are still charter flights and the US Treasury Department has set 12 categories of authorized travel.

Bottom Line

This is great news for the tourism industry in Cuba and likely just the beginning of a massive influx of US companies into the country. Cuban officials believe the arrival of US competitors into the market will serve to strengthen the quality and service throughout the entire tourism industry which is long overdue according to many first hand accounts. As far at the rest of Starwood's future plans are concerned, that remains to be seen.

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