Havana's newest hotel will set mark for luxury
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels said Tuesday that it plans to open a
five-star hotel this spring in the Old Havana section of the Cuban
capital, giving Havana a luxury offering that has been missing from its
Kempinski will operate the 246-room hotel — The Gran Hotel Kempinski
Manzana La Habana — in the historic Manzana de Gómez building under a
management contract with Cuba's Grupo de Turismo Gaviota.
It will feature a 1,600-square-foot presidential suite, a rooftop
terrace and swimming pool, three restaurants, a cigar lounge, business
center and a spa operated by Resense, a Swiss luxury spa brand.
The iconic five-story Manzana de Gómez building, which was completed in
1917, occupies an entire block and was the first European-style shopping
arcade in Cuba.
Bounded by Neptuno, San Rafael, Zulueta and Monserrate streets, the
hotel features views of the Capitolio, the old Bacardi headquarters and
the streets of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Reuters reported in July that among the workers retrofitting the
building as a hotel were more than 100 laborers from India contracted by
the French construction group Bouygues — an indication that Cuba has
been relaxing its labor restrictions in an effort to attract foreign
Although Havana is a city of more than 2.1 million residents, it only
has a handful of what would be considered first-class hotels and those
are often booked months in advance.
"The Saratoga is considered a luxury property but it is more a boutique
hotel. The Kempinski hotel is a whole other level in terms of brand,
professionalism and the size of the hotel," said Collin Laverty,
president of Cuba Educational Travel, which takes groups of Americans to
"It certainly fills a gap in terms of supply. Almost all the upscale
visitors in that part of town are trying to get into the Saratoga or the
Parque Central, and the Kempinski is going to be a great offering," he
Last year Cuba received more than 4 million international visitors, and
tourism officials are predicting another record year in 2017 with 4.2
No date has been set for the grand opening of the Manzana La Habana, but
officials of the Swiss hotel chain said it would be in the second
quarter of this year.
"The opening is a continuation of our pioneering spirit as the Gran
Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana will be Cuba's first modern luxury
five-star hotel. And its location within a famous historic building
currently makes it the most exclusive hotel project in Old Havana," said
Markus Semer, chairman and chief executive of Kempinski Hotels.
Europe's oldest luxury hotel group is "a perfect fit with the Manzana de
Gómez," said Carlos M. Latuff, executive president of Gaviota. "Together
with Kempinski we will make this jewel the city's leading luxury hotel."
Gaviota is among the state-run companies under the umbrella of GAESA, a
sprawling conglomerate run by the Cuban military. As a Cuban tourism
enterprise, Gaviota's portfolio includes 64 hotels and villas with more
than 27,000 rooms in the 3, 4 and 5 star categories, marinas, a tour
company and Transgaviota, a transportation services company.
International partners such as Meliá International, Iberostar Hotels and
Resorts, H10, Blue Diamond, Valentín, and Warwick International manage
more than 80 percent of Gaviota's hotel portfolio. In addition to
Kempinski, Gaviota plans management contracts with Banyan Tree Hotels
and Resorts, Sercotel, Centara Hotels and Resorts, MGM Muthu Hotels and
Catalonia Hotels and Resorts this year.
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Source: First five-star luxury hotel to open in Cuba's Old Havana |
Miami Herald -