Starwood expands into Cuba in historic deal

The deal opens Cuba to a flood of American investment

The Parque Central and the Hotel Inglaterra
The Parque Central and the Hotel Inglaterra

It’s an historic moment for Cuba and for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The hotel giant will soon become the first American hotel chain to open in Cuba since the 1950s.

Starwood plans to renovate and manage the Hotel Inglaterra on the Parque Central near Old Havana and the Hotel Quinta Avenida, a 186-room business hotel in the district of Miramar, according to the New York Times. The hotels will begin operating under the Starwood flag this year, the company told the Times.

Starwood will not own the hotels, which are controlled by Cuban state enterprises that include a military conglomerate.

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Jorge Giannattasio, Starwood’s senior vice president and the head of its Latin America operations, said that the deals represent “a pivotal moment.”

“We are in an inflection point in the relationship between the two countries and in the hospitality industry,” Giannattasio told the Times. The deal would “create new expectations for the quality of Cuban hotels,” he said.

But Starwood won’t be the only American company operating in Cuba for long. The deal opens the doors for a flood of U.S. investment in the island.

“There are many opportunities for us and other American companies,” Giannattasio said. “This is just the beginning.” [NYT] – Christopher Cameron