Starwood Hotels and Resorts Announces Groundbreaking Expansion to Cuba
March 19, 2016
Becomes First Hospitality Company to Obtain U.S. Treasury Department Authorization to Operate In Cuba
Signs Two Agreements and Letter of Intent to Open Hotels in Havana in 2016
HAVANA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (“Starwood”) (NYSE:HOT) today signed three new hotel deals in Cuba, marking the first U.S. based hospitality company to enter the market in nearly 60 years. This announcement follows receipt of authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department for Starwood to operate hotels in Cuba. Long-time Havana icon, Hotel Inglaterra, will join The Luxury Collection and Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. Both hotels will undergo renovations before raising their new brand flags later in 2016. The Company also announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent to convert the famed Hotel Santa Isabel into a member of The Luxury Collection.
Thomas B. Mangas, Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Starwood’s history of creativity, innovation, sustainability and being a first mover is core to who we are and what has made us a formidable competitor in the industry with a long, global lead. I am proud of our team who worked tirelessly to make today possible. With Cuba’s rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire U.S. hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point.”
Kenneth S. Siegel, Starwood’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, added: “We are confident Starwood is the right partner to help write the next chapter of relations between Cuba and American business, and we moved quickly and enthusiastically to pursue opportunities following recent government actions. As we’ve seen throughout the world, our entry into new markets has a positive effect on local communities, preserving and protecting the culture and delicate ecosystems while improving employment opportunities, which were driving forces in our discussions.”
Jorge Giannattasio, Starwood’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Latin America Operations, said: “We are excited to add this sought-after destination to our growing Latin American and Caribbean portfolio, and offer our loyal guests more choice in this evolving market. Hotel conversions, like those we announced today, allow us to preserve history, architecture and culture while offering a unique branded experience. With our long-standing, locally based and highly experienced team in Latin America and the Caribbean, we look forward to welcoming guests to Cuba for many decades to come.”
Starwood has partnered with owner Gran Caribe to rebrand the renowned Hotel Inglaterra as a member of The Luxury Collection. A national landmark just steps from the Gran Teatro de La Habana in the heart of downtown Havana, the Inglaterra first opened its doors in 1875 and is home to the famed Gran Café el Louvre, which has hosted artists and travelers for over a century. Upon completion of the preservation and conversion projects later this year, the hotel will offer 83 rooms and reopen under The Luxury Collection banner.
Starwood has signed an agreement with Grupo de Turismo Gaviota S.A. , owner of Hotel Quinta Avenida in Havana’s Miramar district, to rebrand the hotel as Four Points by Sheraton Havana later this year. The hotel will cater to business travelers with approximately 186 rooms and state-of-the-art meeting facilities.
The Company also has signed a letter of intent with Habaguanex, owner of the famed Hotel Santa Isabel, to convert the nineteenth century colonial-style palace to a member of The Luxury Collection, pending U.S. Treasury Department approval. Situated on the Plaza de Armas and overlooking Havana Harbor, the Santa Isabel will offer Starwood guests a conveniently situated respite in the heart of Havana’s historic city center, with 27 rooms, including 11 suites.
Steps to Groundbreaking Announcement
On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and in August 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Cuba was reestablished. Then, last month, the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement that provides U.S. airlines the opportunity to operate up to 110 daily roundtrip flights, which would resume commercial airline service between the two countries for the first time in more than 50 years and promises to vastly increase the number of Americans traveling to Cuba.
Keith Grossman, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Starwood, concluded: “Through our discussions and due diligence, it became clear that Starwood was the right choice for its unique approach to hospitality, sustainability and design that would enrich the local communities and enhance the guest experience. We plan to cultivate local talent, provide career enriching opportunities, and locally source art, décor, food, and materials to ensure we deliver authentic experiences.”
Starwood was advised by D17 Strategies, a consulting firm providing strategic counsel to clients seeking to carry out Cuban trade, investment, travel, and exchanges permitted under new U.S. regulations.
About The Luxury Collection® Hotels & Resorts
The Luxury Collection® brand is comprised of world-renowned hotels and resorts offering unique, authentic experiences that evoke lasting, treasured memories. For the global explorer, The Luxury Collection offers a gateway to the world's most exciting and desirable destinations. Each hotel and resort is a unique and cherished expression of its location; a portal to the destination's indigenous charms and treasures. Originated in 1906 under the CIGA® brand as a collection of Europe's most celebrated and iconic properties, today The Luxury Collection brand is a glittering ensemble, set to exceed 100 of the world's finest hotels and resorts in more than 30 countries by the early 2016. All of these hotels, many of them centuries old, are internationally recognized as being among the world's finest. For more information and new openings, visit theluxurycollection.com or follow Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
About Four Points
Four Points is travel reinvented. With over 200 hotels in nearly 40 countries, Four Points meets the needs of the everyday traveler and offers guests exactly what they need on the road. Four Points combines timeless style and comfort and an authentic sense of the local as well as genuine, always-approachable service, all around the world. To learn more, visit www.fourpoints.com/experience. Stay connected to Four Points on facebook.com/fourpoints.
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with nearly 1,300 properties in some 100 countries and approximately 188,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences under the renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Tribute Portfolio™, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element®, along with an expanded partnership with Design Hotels™. The Company also boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®). Visit www.starwoodhotels.com for more information and stay connected @starwoodbuzz on Twitter and Instagram and facebook.com/Starwood.