Chinese Companies Invest In Cuba Hotel Projects


A Chinese hotel investment project is underway in western Havana, the capital of Cuba. The luxury hotel, named the Hemingway Hotel, will have 600 en-suite rooms and “will be built this year in a Cuban-Chinese initiative involving the state-run Suntine International-Economic Trading Company of China and the Cuban Tourist group Cubanacan,” according to

Suntine will own a 49 per cent stake and Cubanacan will own 51 per cent of the venture. Citic Construction, the principal building company for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and the Cuban Ministry of Construction are also involved in the project. Reuters adds that “Qatar and Cuba signed an agreement in May to build a USD75m luxury hotel on Cuba’s Cayo Largo.”

The targeted market is reported as future U.S. tourists, given that the U.S. government seems likely to loosen its restriction on travel to the Caribbean island located just 90 miles offshore from Miami, and Cuban-Americans, who now have no restrictions to travel to Cuba. – Cuba investment and real estate

Cuba’s Resorts Welcome A New Clientele: Cubans Cuba’s President Raul Castro put an end last year to the country’s so-called tourism apartheid that banned ordinary Cubans from staying at tourist hotels.

The change has brought something new this summer to the island’s all-inclusive resorts: Cuban tourists.

With 12 miles of white sand beaches and more than 50 hotels, Varadero is one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean. Foreign companies partner with the Cuban government to run the place, and it’s a bit like Cancun without the American college kids.

Varadero is still off-limits to American tourists under U.S. law, and for years it was pretty much that way for Cubans, too. Cuban workers cleaned the hotel rooms and staffed the restaurants, but the island’s communist authorities wouldn’t let them check in as guests.

All inclusive resort  in Varadero -

All inclusive resort in Varadero -

That policy ended with reforms initiated by Raul Castro, who succeeded his ailing brother, Fidel.

Now, dozens of tour buses packed with Cuban vacationers are pouring daily into Varadero. For less than $200 per person, Cubans can buy a weeklong, all-inclusive package and finally claim their places in the sand alongside budget-minded Europeans and Canadians.

Cubans Flock To Beach Resorts

Cuban vacationer Lorenzo Yeras said there was not a single foreign tourist on the bus from Havana.

“They were all Cubans. And that’s something that makes me really happy. Not that I have anything against foreigners, but it’s really nice to see so many Cubans together, sharing that happiness and excitement,” Yeras said as he arrived at Varadero’s Cuatro Palmas resort.

If the Castro government’s old policy was intended to enforce some degree of socialist equality, its removal of the restriction is the latest sign that a growing number of the island’s residents have money to spend.

The average workers’ monthly salary is less than $20, but Varadero’s resort hotels are crowded with Cuba’s new economic elite — employees of foreign companies, private entrepreneurs, black marketeers and farmers prospering from the country’s new land reforms.

“You know, this is how it works in the rest of the world. Either you can afford something or you can’t,” said Felix Beatoy, an actor at one of the resort hotels. “It didn’t make sense that a Cuban wasn’t allowed to stay in a hotel even if they had the money. We’ve fixed that — just like Cubans not being able to have cell phones. Now, if the offer’s there but you can’t afford it, that’s a different problem.”

A Welcome Change For Cuban Americans

The change is also a welcome one for Cuban Americans returning to the island to visit family. They used to rely on illegal rentals, bribes or other schemes in order to vacation together. But now Cuba’s tourist resorts are playing host to large family reunions.

Tampa resident Ileana Perez left the island six years ago, and she grew tearful describing how she had saved her wages for three years in order to treat nine of her family members to a Varadero vacation.

“I see this as a good thing,” Perez said. “At least nine people can come eat and enjoy themselves. But I would have liked to bring more of my family. I’d like them to be able to come here without having to depend on me. They shouldn’t have to wait for a family member to come from abroad just to enjoy their own country. And that really hurts.”

Foreign tourists in Varadero have long enjoyed a kind of alternate Cuban reality, a sunny world of all-you-can-eat buffets in a country accustomed to food rationing.

It is a strange twist in the communist country’s awkward embrace of international tourism. Many of the fiercest critics of the island’s socialist system now find themselves straining to enjoy the beach, knowing so many others can’t afford to do the same.

Miami resident Karel Alemany left the island a decade ago, and while his family members seemed to be enjoying themselves by the pool, his thoughts were elsewhere, with the real Cuba beyond the beach.

“What about the other 11 million people that live here? What if they don’t have someone else that comes to Cuba to take them to some place? How do they live, how do they eat? That’s something that you got to think about,” Alemany said. – Luxury vacation rental in Havana, Cuba

Iberostar Playa Laguna Hotel to Open in Varadero

The hotel can be booked through the website:

DTCuba: Havana.- The inauguration of the Playa Laguna Hotel in Varadero, Cuba’s major beach resort, will increase that region’s lodging capacity to 17,000 rooms.

Hotel Iberostar Laguna Azul

Hotel Iberostar Laguna Azul

The 814-room hotel is located in the zone of the Mangón Lagoon and is owned by the Cuban group Gaviota.

Built by Cuban workers from the Economic Association Arcos BB Internacional, at a cost of 78 million dollars, the establishment is equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

The Playa Laguna Hotel, which will be run by the Spanish consortium Iberostar, is part of a three-hotel complex that also includes the Las Salinas Hotel (1,044 rooms), built last year by Varadero’s Entrepreneurial Construction Group (GEC), and the 1,100-room Laguna Hotel, which is under construction.

After the 3,000-room project is completed, it will be the largest hotel complex in Cuba. – Online hote reservation in Cuba

Cuba’s Revenues from Tourism Fell 10 Percent

Herald Tribune: Cuba welcomed 1.37 million tourists from January to June, or 2.7 percent more than in the same period in 2008, official figures show. But due exchange rates and the world crisis, revenues has fallen 10 percent.

Cuba’s tourist arrivals will increase this year despite the global economic recession, but tourism industry revenues are down 10 percent, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.

“The exchange rates, especially those of the pound sterling, the euro and the Canadian dollar, have had an impact on revenues,” but “a recovery is already being seen,” Marrero told reporters in Havana.

Cuba welcomed 1.37 million tourists from January to June, or 2.7 percent more than in the same period in 2008, official figures show.

Tourism industry officials told Efe that the increase in tourist arrivals in the second quarter came at the expense of Mexico, where there was an outbreak of swine flu, prompting operators to change destinations.

Regarding the possibility that U.S. President Barack Obama might lift restrictions on Americans’ travel to Cuba, Marrero said the island was working to develop tourism “for the whole world” and was not “sitting, waiting for the arrival of American tourism.”

Visits by Cubans living abroad have increased 20 percent, the tourism minister said.

Obama recently eased restrictions on Cuban-Americans wishing to travel to the island so they can now visit their families every year instead of every three years and can stay as long as they want.

“We are averaging nearly 6,000 Cubans in hotels these days,” Marrero said.

In March 2008, President Raul Castro’s government lifted the restrictions on Cubans staying in hotels.

The tourism industry is not “exempt” from the economic adjustments being made by the government to save energy, reduce imports and increase productivity, Marrero said.

Cuba is experiencing a severe economic slump caused by the global economic meltdown and exacerbated by the $10 billion in damage caused by three hurricanes last year.

The government has revised its 2009 growth forecast downward from 6 percent to 1.7 percent.

“We have reduced spending and plan on increasing revenues, but none of the adjustments are aimed at affecting quality and service,” the tourism minister said.

The tourism industry is “guaranteed” all it needs to “operate with quality,” Marrero said, adding that there was “an investment plan that is continuing to be executed” to “improve comfort at facilities” and build new ones. – Cuba Luxury Rental

Cuban Hotel Wins International Prize

DTCuba: Havana.- The Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel, in the eastern Cuban province of Holguín, won the TUI Holly Award granted by that major European tour operator.

The establishment is among the top 100 hotels, according to clients, who chose them from 12,000 hotels all over the world.
The award acknowledges that guests’ think very high of the hotel’s services, facilities, food and drinks. The Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel also won the TUI Holly Award in 2001, 2002 and 2007.

Hotel Paradisus Rio de Oro

Hotel Paradisus Rio de Oro

It is TUI’s second award to the Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel, which won the Travelife Silver Award in June, as an acknowledgement of the establishment’s contribution to protecting the environment.

The Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel is located at the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park, on Esmeralda Beach. It offers 300 rooms and is run by the Spanish group Sol Meliá. – hotel booking in Cuba

Cuban Hotel Wins Environmental Award

DTCuba: Havana.- The Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel, in the eastern Cuban province of Holguín, won two environmental awards as an acknowledgement of its contributions to protect nature.

The hotel received the Travelife Silver grade, granted by the tour operator TUI UK and Ireland.

At the same time, the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA) granted the Provincial Environmental Award to the hotel.

The 300-room hotel, located on Esmeralda Beach, has a peculiar architectural design that considers the natural environment as a part of it. – Cuba Bachelor Fun weekend

Qatari Diar announces second hotel project for Cuba – Prado y Malecon

Havana Journal:

In addition to the recent announcement of the Gran Paraiso hotel to be built on Cayo Largo del Sur by the Qatari Diar Investment Company, a second Joint Venture agreement between Qatari Diar and Habaguanex, a Cuban hotel company based in Old Havana was also announced.

The hotel, tentatively named Prado y Malecón, will be built on an empty plot of land on the Malecon in Havana. Habaguanex has been very successful restoring Habana Vieja and operating historic hotels in Old Havana.

In keeping with Qatari Diar’s tradition of creating sustainable, community enhancing projects, the Prado y Malecon project will generate hundreds of jobs during the construction phase while enhancing Cuba’s tourism infrastructure and desirability as an international tourist destination.

The new hotel will cater to the needs of the Cuban business and tourism sectors and will serve as an attractive venue for the growing number of people expected to travel to the country in the near future.

About Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company

Wholly owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company was established in December 2004 to support Qatar’s growing economy and to co-ordinate the country’s real estate development priorities. Qatari Diar creates distinguished property developments with local culture and lifestyle experience to attract tourism and residents generating sustainable and tangible socio-economic benefits.

About Habaguanex

Habaguanex S.A. Tourist Company is based in La Habana Vieja (Old Havana). The company was established in 1994 to restore and rescue the historical center of Old Havana and to improve its hotel infrastructure and services. Habaguanex S.A. is attached to the Office of the City Historian, and presents historical-cultural projects that focus primarily in the old part of Havana. It is backed by museums, art galleries, performing arts centers and specialty stores that are reviving old traditions. Habaguanex S.A. runs a score of hotels and inns, more than 30 restaurants, 60 cafeterias and bars, and over 80 shops and markets. Habaguanex’s offers meet the demands from a segment of vacationers interested in urban tourism and Old Havana’s attractions. – Online hotel reservation in Cuba

Cuban Hotel Wins Int’l Award

Havana.- The Paradisus Río de Oro Resort and Spa, in the eastern Cuban province of Holguín, won the Marque of Excellence Award, granted by the tour operator Thomas Cook.

As an acknowledgement of the hotel’s high-quality services, Thomas Cook’s clients who stayed at the hotel chose the Paradisus Río de Oro for the award for the fifth time. The establishment also won the prize in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007.

The five-star all-inclusive hotel belongs to the Cuban group Gaviota S.A. and is run by the Spanish chain Sol Meliá.

Recently, the hotel was remodeled to improve its services. Works included the restoration of some of the restaurants.

The 2008 Marque of Excellence is the fourth international award granted to the Paradisus Río de Oro this year.


Cuba greets its 2 millionth tourist with music, mojitos

wedding with tourists in Trinidad, Cuba

wedding with tourists in Trinidad, Cuba

HAVANA — Cuba welcomed its 2 millionth tourist of 2008 last week with a salsa band, strong mojitos and word that the island expects to set a record this year for foreign visitors despite three hurricanes and a global economic crisis.

Authorities hung a red-and-white banner reading “welcome visitor” in five languages just outside the customs area as Air Canada Flight 370 from Toronto touched down at Havana Airport.

“Is this a nice way to start? I’ll say!” said Helen Lueke, a secretary in her 60s from Sherwood Park, Alberta, who comes to Cuba about once a year — but has never been greeted at the airport with mojitos.

Cuba didn’t single out a visitor as No. 2 million. Instead, it symbolically marked the flight’s arrival along with similar celebrations at international airports in the eastern city of Santiago and in Varadero, the famous beach resort northeast of Havana.

Alexis Trujillo, first vice minister of tourism, said Cuba has surpassed 2 million annual foreign visitors every year since 2004.

But Nov. 14 is the earliest date the communist nation has ever reached the mark, he added, leading Cuba to predict it would pass its 2005 record of 2.3 million visitors.

Trujillo said tourism is up 10.7 percent compared with last year, despite hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma, which destroyed nearly half a million homes and did more than $10 billion in damage when they roared through the island in recent weeks.

Hotels, restaurants and other tourist sites were damaged in coastal areas in the provinces of Camaguey and Holguin, as well as in tobacco-growing Pinar del Rio.

But the storms spared Cuba’s top tourist destinations: Havana’s crumbling but majestic, decades-old architecture, and Varadero, which Trujillo said would attract 1 million foreign visitors alone this year for the first time.

Washington’s trade embargo discourages most Americans from coming to Cuba.

But Canada, Britain, Spain and Italy rank as the island’s top sources of visitors.

Foreign tourists to Cuba topped 2.3 million in 2005 but fell in 2006 and slipped again to 2.1 million last year — dealing a financial blow to a nation that relies on tourism for much of its hard-currency revenue. The industry brought in $2.2 billion in 2007.

Hotel Paradisus Rio De Oro in Cuba Awarded First Choice Gold Medal

The Hotel Paradisus Rio de Oro, located on the northern coast of Holguin province, has received the Gold Medal award granted by the leading British tour operator, First Choice.

or the second consecutive year, the 5-star all inclusive resort was recognized by the British company for the quality of its services. First Choice is one of the hotel’s major tourist markets, according to General Manager Juan Tuñon.

The Paradisus Río de Oro is located in a coastal forest area that is part of the Bahia de Naranjo National Park, in the eastern province of Holguin. It was designed for adults and has 300 rooms, some of them scattered on top of a hill offering a splendid view to the guests that come mainly from Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain.

According to the Cubatravel portal, the excellent standards of Paradisus Rio de Oro have also been recognized by other important tour operators like TUI, and Thomas Cook.