The First US-Branded Hotel In Cuba Is Now Open

I’ve been really impressed by the speed at which things have been progressing between the US and Cuba on the travel front, ever since sanctions between the two countries started to be lifted early last year. A couple of weeks ago, commercial flights between the US and Cuba became bookable, as they launch in September.

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For those who are points obsessed, there’s also progress being made on the hotel front. In March we learned that Starwood had signed a management contract for two Cuban hotels, making them the first US hotel chain to operate a property in Cuba in over half a century.

Hotel Inglaterra is being renovated and will begin operating as a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel as of August 31, 2016.

Meanwhile the Four Points by Sheraton Havana (formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida) is now officially operating under Starwood management, meaning it’s bookable on spg.com effective immediately.

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The hotel looks perfectly acceptable for a Four Points. Most people aren’t going to Cuba because they’re looking for cutting edge five star hotels, but rather for the culture. It’s worth noting that the hotel is actually being renovated at the moment, but they won’t close it while that happens. There’s already a shortage of room capacity, so I’m guessing they don’t want to reduce the capacity even more, especially given the rates they can charge at the moment.

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Ready for the crazy part? The Four Points by Sheraton Havana is a Category 6 hotel, meaning a free night costs 20,000 Starpoints. That makes this the only Four Points by Sheraton in the world to be designated a Category 6 hotel.

Rates seem to mostly be around ~$200 per night, so based on that it seems like this should be a Category 4 property, or perhaps a Category 5 property at absolute most.

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There are a few dates around the holidays where I’m seeing rates of $400+ per night, which is the rate I’d expect to be the norm for a Category 6 hotel.

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Category 6 seems like an overkill, though perhaps they’re expecting rates to go even higher once US airlines announce flights to Havana (as of now they’ve only announced flights to Cuban cities other than Havana). The reality is that there’s very little supply and there will be tons of demand, as Havana will get flooded with tourists.

I’ll be curious to see the long term trend of rates at this hotel — I’m guessing short term they’ll go up, once commercial flights from US airlines to Havana are announced, and then long term I’m guessing they’ll go way down, once the “OMG I HAVE TO GET TO CUBA BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE” craze dies off, and more inventory is added.

As you’d expect, there are quite a few restrictions which come with booking a stay in Cuba, like having to sign an affidavit upon check-in, having all rates be pre-paid and non-refundable, and requiring any additional costs to be settled with a non-US credit card.

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Anyone planning a trip to Cuba anytime soon, and if so, would you consider staying at one of the Starwood properties?

(Tip of the hat to Mike)

Comments

  1. absolutely not. you could get this experience anywhere in the caribbean.

    staying in casa particulares is far cheaper, and will give you a much better sense of cuban culture

  2. Fidel must be laughing his Communist ass off looking at the pricing of the greedy capitalists from the Empire.

    No Cuba travel until Fidel is DEAD and rotting in HELL with Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Beria, Tio Hugo, et al…

    /rant

  3. “additional costs to be settled with a non-US credit card”

    So, how does an American go about getting a non-US card? Some googling around seemed to indicate getting a Canadian card would be difficult. I’ve never contemplated this need at all, so I’m sure I’m missing something, but can anyone shed some light for me?

  4. @ Jason — Practically speaking it’s best just to bring enough cash for the entire trip (which sucks, but…).

  5. Typical Obama foreign policy boondoggle. We open up travel to Cuba, bringing them tons of investment and travel expense hard currency, which they desperately need, in exchange for essentially nothing from their side. Then they give us a slap in the face by forbidding the use of a US credit card. 😉

    Added to that they require that all hotel reservations be non-refundable, even just for changes of dates.

  6. Ditto what GringoLoco wrote! My friends just came back & they said that the OUTRIGHT LIES that are being told when you tour the Revolution Museum, particularly the “Pedro Pan Exodus” lies, were so outlandish that my friend had to bite her tongue and remember that she has no rights there…it was particularly heartbreaking for her because her dad was one of the Pedro Pan (Peter Pan) children that was put on a flight to freedom by his parents. Google Pedro Pan/Cuban exodus & you’ll see for yourself. The Castro Brothers won’t give up power, not even for Obama…he was played!

  7. I’ve stayed at both of the soon-to-be SPG properties in Havana very recently but before any renovations. Americans are going to need to keep their expectations modest.

  8. I stayed in Inglaterra in 2012. While it may be in the most ideal location in all of Havana, I have to assume they’ll be gutting the entire property and nothing will remain.

    FWIW my friend paid CUC 45 for a single and I paid CUC 60 for a double on a corner with a view of the square.

  9. @robert hanson
    Remember the bay of pigs
    Oink oink
    American consumerism will decimate Cuban culture and utter uniqueness.
    The thought of travelling to cuba for the fifth time to be confronted by ignorant and obese american loud mouth tourists makes me want to run a fkn mile.

    Good bye cuba
    Hello consumerism and obese american tourists!

  10. Cuba has a lot of supply for accommodation — as private home stays. They are already in airbnb I believe, good value for money and the money also goes to the people, not the government.

    I have been to Cuba a number of times and there isn’t a hotel that would be worth $400+ a night on the island.

    There is about a dozen old, restored spanish palace hotels in Havana Vieja. Book now before they become chain hotels.

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