Cuba has long captured the imaginations of travelers across the globe. A country seemingly stuck in the 1950s, the island is filled with tattered façades, grandiose squares, cobbled streets, UNESCO World Heritage-preserved cities and a noticeably un-Westerninzed province. But now, thanks to former President Obama’s embargo lift in 2015, US-based companies have quickly begun to move into the previously off-limits country.
According to Skift, “Hotels are overwhelmed and Cuba can’t build new hotels fast enough to cope with the boom in visitors from the US and around the world.” In 2016, the country saw a 14.6 percent rise in visitors over the same period last year. Among the many hoteliers rushing to Cuba to build new properties is the Kempinski brand which will open a new five-star hotel in Havana this summer. Recently, the 120-year-old Swiss brand signed a management contract with the Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA to open The Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana.
Though the brand is touting the property as “Cuba’s first modern luxury five-star hotel,” this somewhat misleading since it only refers to specific European standards. Many other five-star properties already operate in Cuba including Hotel Santa Isabel, Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Meliá Cohiba, Meliá Habana, Hotel Santa Isabel, Iberostar Parque Central, Hotel Saratoga and Four Points by Sheraton Havana.
The five-story property will be housed inside a neo-classical structure which was once a European-style shopping center with over 500 retailers. All 246 rooms and suites (ranging in size from 430 to 1,615 square feet), will include large French windows, vaulted ceilings, contemporary furnishings and bright pops of color paying tribute to their Cuban roots. Guests will also be treated to complimentary internet access in every room—although most sites you’ll want to visit are banned by the government—so take that perk as you will.
Along with three restaurants, the hotel will feature a cigar bar, lobby bar, rooftop terrace and pool, and a 10,765-square-foot Swiss Resense spa. Within walking distance of the property are some of the city’s best attractions such as Old Havana’s main interconnecting artery Calle Obispo, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Bacardi rum’s art deco bell tower and nearby to the Great Theater of Havana and the Capitol.
Photos Credit: The Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana
By: Nicolle Monico