Why Did Starwood Initiate A Reservations Policy More Restrictive Than French & Spanish Competitors In Cuba?

For the Four Points By Sheraton Havana property, which commenced operations on 27 June 2016, the following statement is on its reservations portal:


Reservations for this hotel are prepaid and there are NO REFUNDS for changes or cancellation. Additional charges at the Hotel are NOT payable with US credit cards and must be paid in CASH or with non US issued credit cards.

According to Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (2015 revenues exceeded US$5.7 billion), "The current reservation policies are the result of Starwood’s assessment of market conditions.  We are conscious of the issues resulting from cash requirements and the limitations on payment methods. Thus, we are working to accept as many payment methods as possible based on what has been made available under the current regulatory framework.  We expect to be able to offer additional options in the near future."

When making a reservation at a property located within the Republic of Cuba using the online portal of the management company, for example Spain-based Melia Hotels International (2015 revenues exceeded US$2 billion) and France-based AccorHotels (2015 revenues exceeded US$5 billion), a reservation may be changed or cancelled and may be prepaid using a non-United States-based financial institution-issued credit/debit card, but may not (yet) be prepaid using a credit card/debit card issued by a United States-based financial institution.

Regulations Do Not Require

There are no regulations issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury that prevent prepayment or require prepayment, that prevent refunds for changes or cancellation.  The OFAC has authorized credit cards and debit cards issued by United States-based financial institutions (including American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club, etc.) for use in the Republic of Cuba.

Are the Four Points by Sheraton Havana payment policies a reflection of requirements by Republic of Cuba government-operated Gaviota (controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba), the Central Bank of the Republic of Cuba, the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Cuba?

Pompano Beach,Florida-based Stonegate Bank is authorized by the OFAC and Central Bank of the Republic of Cuba to have its MasterCard credit/debit card valid for use in the Republic of Cuba.  San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular of Puerto Rico has announced plans to have its MasterCard credit/debit card valid for use in the Republic of Cuba.

In 2016, the OFAC granted a license(s) to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to manage properties owned by Republic of Cuba government-operated entities located in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba.  The properties are Gran Caribe-owned Hotel Inglaterra; Habaguanex-owned Hotel Santa Isabel and Hotel Quinta Avenida (re-branded as Four Points by Sheraton Havana). 

Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International (2015 revenues exceeded US$14 billion) is acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and confirms its discussions with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to identify property-management opportunities within the Republic of Cuba