US's Starwood signs first US-Cuba hotel deal
A US-based hotel company has reached an agreement with Cuba to take over operations of two of Havana's hotels. Starwood Hotels and Resorts will be the first American hospitality company to operate a hotel on the island since relations between the two countries have been recently reestablished after more than 50 years.
The New York-based conglomerate, owners of the Westin, Sheraton, and W brands among others, will now take over Havana's Inglaterra Hotel, the city's oldest hotel property and the Fifth Avenue Hotel in upscale Miramar. The agreement contemplates the labor force to be comprised of Cuban citizens for the most part, with a small number of expats in key management positions. The company plans to start operations in Cuba in late 2016 to take advantage of the rise of american tourists expected with the thawing of the relations between the two countries, and have reached a tentative agreement to manage a third one, the Santa Isabel Hotel, just across from the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana.
Jorge Giannattasio, Starwood Vice-president and Chief of Latin America Operations: "With the application of probably more a hundred flights a day from the US, if that happens, clearly the amount of travelers to Cuba will skyrocket. We wanna make sure that we are ready to welcome them."
Jorge Giannattasio, Starwood Vice-president and Chief of Latin America Operations: "I think that the big news today are clearly that Starwood is the first hotel company that signs a management agreement with a Cuban company in more than sixty years."