The first internationally recognized five-star luxury hotel in Cuba officially opened in Havana on Wednesday evening.
CGTN’s Michael Voss attended the opening ceremony.
Champagne and fine food greeted the invited guests attending the opening ceremony of the Grand Hotel Manzana. The island’s first luxury hotel is owned by Cuba’s military, run by the Gaviota tourism company and managed by the upmarket Swiss hotel group Kempinski.
“The inauguration of this important hotel marks a new stage in the development of Cuban tourism. There’s a demand from very wealthy people who want luxury hotels and this is precisely our answer,” Cuba’s Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz said.
The cheapest rooms in low season are over $400 a night, the suites can run to over a thousand. The hotel has an infinity pool on the roof with impressive views of the city.
The original 19th century building housed Cuba’s first European-style shopping arcade. That remains, though now with top end brands like Montblanc.
After Cuba and the U.S. restored diplomatic relations, the number of tourists visiting Cuba jumped from 3 million in 2014 to 4 million last year.
Two more modern hotels are currently under construction. This one will be managed by Spain’s IBEROSTAR, the other by France’s Accor-all three using the French construction company Bouygues.
All of these new luxury hotels are counting on a growing number of visitors from the United States, but that could go into reverse if U.S. president Donald Trump decides to crack down on Cuba.
“I believe that hospitality and real estate has a very long-term vision. Kempinski was the first one which opened in Beijing as a five-star international operator, we were the first one which opened in Moscow at a time when everybody said the risk is too high, and we are opening today proudly in Cuba,” Markus Semer, CEO of Kempinski Hotels said.
Kempinski representatives claim they have enough interest from high-end European and other clients to weather any decline in visitors from the United States.