Starwood Becomes the First U.S. Hotel Chain in Cuba Since 1959
Rooms start at $240 a night.
“This is a historic moment,” said Nancy Sarabia, the public relations manager for the hotel. She called the hotel “a symbol of brotherhood and collaboration.”
The hotel, formerly known as the Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, is still owned by the Cuban military but will be managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide after the company signed a multi-million dollar deal with Cuba to manage it and one other hotel. Starwood will run the state-owned Gran Caribe Inglaterra Hotel beginning Aug. 31.
While the U.S. embargo against Cuba is still in place — and only Congress can fully lift it — the Obama administration has loosened trade and investment restrictions to the point that such deals are now possible. Starwood is one of several hotel companies that has moved toward investing in the island, while Airbnb has also launched home sharing to tourists interested in more easily booking a casa particular on the island.
Staying at the Four Points by Sheraton in Havana comes with more restrictions than most of the chain's other properties: U.S. travelers must fall under 12 approved categories, including educational and cultural exchange trips, to visit and must sign an affidavit at the hotel. Additionally, the hotel will offer no refunds for changes or cancellations.
Americans have been eager to visit Cuba since relations between the two nations thawed, and Cuba welcomed 1.5 million tourists in the first four months of 2016, according to Reuters, a 13.5 percent increase year over year.
Rooms at the new Four Points by Sheraton Havana, available from $240 per night, are going fast.