With relations continuing to change between the US and Cuba, US hotel companies are in the wings to join US airlines in providing travel in Cuba. One of the hotels has already signed a deal to bring 3 hotels to Havana with another signing with the US government for permission and yet another signaling that they are expecting to see one of their own hotels there if a few years.
US Hotels Making Moves Toward Cuba
Starwood is the first of the US chains to make a deal official for opening their own hotels in Cuba. Rather than build hotels, they will be converting current Havana properties under their own flag. The Hotel Inglaterra will become a member of Starwood’s Luxury Hotel Collection with Hotel Quinta Avenida taking on the Four Points name. A third hotel, pending approval from the US Treasury, will see the Hotel Santa Isabel also joining the Luxury Hotel Collection family.
Starwood says that they hope to have these properties up and running later this year – great for those who like to burn points for trips!
Marriott has also announced that they will be heading to Cuba after receiving permission from the US Treasury as well. This agreement just happened yesterday as Marriott’s CEO was with President Obama in Cuba. It is not known yet what direction Marriott will head with their hotels in Cuba but getting permission was a huge, necessary, step towards opening Marriott properties there (of course, with the news today that Starwood agreed to Marriott’s offer, Marriott will have hotels there one way or another anyway!).
Finally, the CEO for Choice Hotels has said that they are “envisioning” having a Comfort Inn property in Cuba at some point. Until then, they are going to try and partner with companies already managing hotel properties in Cuba.
Would You Stay In A US-branded Hotel In Cuba?
One of the fantastic things about visiting places where the American hospitality model is not the norm is being able to enjoy the local lodging situations. In places like Morocco, this means staying in a riad to let the cultural experience continue even after you have called it quits for the day. The same might be said for Cuba. However, I am excited to see that Starwood is simply renovating and opening existing properties under their name. It should keep the local charm and attraction while giving travelers the options to use points for stays while in Cuba.
That being said, I am sure there will still be many US travelers that will avoid US brands and opt for more of what they may consider the local experience in lodging. Would you stay in a US-branded hotel in Cuba?