Hotel opening in Shanghai highlights Cuban expansion

cubastandard:

Putting the spotlight on a recent expansion of Cuban economic activity abroad, tourism Minister Manuel Marrero traveled to China for the opening ceremony of a Chinese-Cuban five-star hotel towering over Shanghai’s booming financial district.

Owned by Chinese state company Suntime International Techno-Economic Cooperation Group and Grupo Cubanacan, the 686-room Gran Meliá Shanghai is operated by Spain’s Grupo Sol Meliá. The $250 million project — considered a key element of Cuban-Chinese cooperation — began in 2003.

No details about the cost or ownership arrangement have been released, nor have the partners explained what exactly Cuban companies have contributed to the project. The construction division of Chinese state company CITIC Group led the design and construction phase; Shanghai Bank, and Eximbank provided and guaranteed the funding.

Cuba’s first large hotel investment abroad is the first of more joint ventures to come between Suntime and Cubanacan, Marrero said during the ceremony. The next project will be construction of a “similar” hotel in Havana, the minister said. The partners reportedly are planning construction of a $150 million hotel at Marina Hemingway, in a western suburb of the capital.

Marrero said the partners had to overcome “great obstacles” to get the project in Shanghai done. He didn’t specify.

Sol Meliá was chosen, among others, because it is the biggest hotel operator in Cuba, with nearly 20 years of track record.

Making the ceremony a trilateral summit, the opening was also attended by Sol Meliá President Gabriel Escarret, Suntime Chairman Yue Shiron, Cubanacan Director Luis Miguel Díaz, as well as Spain’s ambassador in China, the designated Chinese ambassador to Cuba, and the mayor of Pudong, Shanghai’s financial district.

Designed with Feng Shui principles by Sol Meliá house architect Álvaro Sans, the 30-floor hotel is the highest in the Shanghai skyline. It includes a Cuban bar.

Splashed with Cuban art

More the 3,500 sculptures, paintings, and decorative objects by 60 Cuban artists are splashed over nine floors in the hotel. The presidential suite on the 27th floor features four paintings by Roberto Fabelo; a mural by Rigoberto Mena decorates the lobby.

Havana-based art gallery La Acacia held an exhibition opening parallel to the hotel opening ceremony.

Broader tourism agenda

While in China, Marrero met in Beijing with tourism officials to boost marketing of Cuba as a destination in the fast-growing Asian source market. He also talked about additional investment projects, including preparations for the construction of the Suntime-Cubanacan hotel in Havana.

In addition, Marrero met with potential investors, as well as with Chinese travel agency and tour operator executives, and tourism media representatives.

www.particularcuba.com

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About Particular Cuba
Particular Cuba organizes travel to Cuba. Hotel booking, car rental, package tours, excursions, flights to Cuba.

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