Developers Plan Upscale Hotels for Havana, Starting with Iberostar

Main Photo: The Iberostar’s new Grand Packard in Havana

Date: January 2019

Location: Paseo del Prado, Old Havana, Cuba

Name: The Iberostar Grand Packard – opened 2018

No. of Keys: 321

Seller: The site is a former classic hotel opened in 1911 as the Biscuit Hotel and became the Packard in 1931.

The Biscuit Hotel became a meeting point for parking. It is said that from its location left a stagecoach that came to Wajay, which motivated the creation of first Cuban cocktail named “El Tren” (The Train).

The installation, in the year 1958, became property of brothers Mercedes and Evaristo Ulloa Ferro who, also, were owners of a European car agency. After the revolutionary Castro triumph the hotel was nationalised and entered into a gradual deterioration until closing its doors.

Buyer: The hotel was acquired by Iberostar, and the rebuild started, under the supervision of architect Rafael Moneo, in December 2015.

Havana is expecting a major boost in hotel development ahead of its 500th anniversary in November, according to Cuba’s official newspaper Granma. The city is set to open a total of 12 hotels and add another 1,121 rooms to its supply.

According to recent statements from Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero, the city is looking to build facilities that will attract international travellers. Marrero estimated of the 12,000 guestrooms in Havana, a full 44 percent are mid-scale or below (two to three stars), so more upscale development is necessary.

The country has seen several high-end openings in recent months, including the Grand Packard Hotel, a 321-room property managed by Spain’s Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, which currently operates 27 hotels with 7,881 rooms on the island.

In September, Paris-based AccorHotels announced plans to open the SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado in 2020 in the country’s capital, marking the brand’s debut in the Americas. AccorHotels already has a presence in Cuba with the Hotel Mercure Sevilla Havane and the Pullman Cayo Coco.

Other upcoming properties include the Hotel Línea y N, Hotel Cueto, Marqués de Monte Hermoso, Gran Hotel, Prado y Malecón, Hotel Vedado Azul, Hotel Universitario and Portales de Paseo.

Other properties, including the New York, Deauville, Lincoln, Riviera, Habana Libre, Sevilla, Cohíba, Colina, Vedado St Johns, Neptuno Tritón and Copacabana, are slated to undergo renovations and repairs.

Granma did not say how much these investments would cost, but United Press International noted China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Marrero in September as saying Chinese companies are investing about $700 million in the “construction of new, high-standard hotels and the development of other tourism projects.

” While Chinese tourist visits are still relatively small at about 46,000 annually, Cuban officials are working to increase the number by trying to get direct flights from Beijing to Havana, UPI reported.

Cuba was set to end 2018 with a record 4.8 million visits, up from 4.7 million in the previous year. Most visitors are from Canada, the United States and Europe, according to UPI.

Aurelio Vazquez, CEO of Iberostar Group said: “Cuba has always been one of our key destinations and one of our clients’ favourites on an international scale.

The Iberostar Grand Packard embodies not only our bet on Cuba but also great respect for its past and present, as well as our commitment to excellence, quality and customer experience.”

THPT Comment: Fab news for Cuba, Iberostar and THPT always gets excited when we see a “grande dame” hotel restored in this way. Interesting numbers of incoming Chinese travellers and investment.

First Seen: Iberostar website and Havana Private Suite

The Hotel Property Team (THPT) are a small group of highly experienced business professionals. Between us, we provide a range of skills and experience which is directly relevant to those involved in the hotel property market.

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