Cuba's 1st US Standard-Based 4-5 Star/4-5 Diamond Rated Hotel May Arrive In June

The 246-room Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana will soon accept reservations for its first guests... who are expected to check-in during the first weeks of June 2017. 

Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana
Calle San Rafael (entre Monserrate y Zulueta)
La Habana Vieja , 10100, Havana Cuba

Reservations.lahabana@kempinski.com

Since 2014, there have been reports by media outside the Republic of Cuba and media inside the Republic of Cuba that Geneva, Switzerland-based Kempinski Hotels SA had signed a management contract with Republic of Cuba government-operated Gaviota SA., controlled by Republic of Cuba government-operated Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. (Enterprise Management Group), or GAESA, which is, in turn, controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).  Now, there is an agreement.

Kempinski Hotels SA operates seventy-five (75) five-star properties in thirty (30) countries.  The Bangkok, Thailand-based Thailand Crown Property Bureau has a majority shareholding in Kempinski AG, which owns Kempinski Hotels SA.

From the Kempinski Hotels Internet site (https://www.kempinski.com/en/havana/gran-hotel-kempinski-la-habana/): "Originally built between 1894 and 1917 as the first European style shopping arcade in Cuba, Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana is situated in the heart of the old Havana with a direct view of the Capitol and the Great Theatre of Havana and amidst UNESCO World Heritage sites. The famous Castillo del Morro is accessible within a 10 minute drive. Experience the first true luxury hotel in Cuba and indulge yourself while staying in one of our 246 large rooms or suites with extra high ceilings and French windows opening out to the old city. Experience a variety of restaurants and bars, which also includes a one of a kind cigar lounge and a roof top Panoramic Restaurant and Bar with spectacular views over the old city. Relax in our spa, fitness center and rooftop pool."

While no data has been provided, the value of the renovation project has been estimated to be US$30 million to US$50 million.

Properties rated five-stars in the Republic of Cuba generally equate with one-star to three-star properties in the United States.

There are no properties in the Republic of Cuba that currently achieve a AAA Four Diamond Award or AAA Five Diamond Award from the Heathrow, Florida-based AAA (formerly American Automobile Association) or a Four-Star Rating or Five-Star Rating from the Atlanta, Georgia-based Forbes Travel Guide.   Neither AAA nor Forbes Travel Guide have rated any properties in the Republic of Cuba.  

From AAA: "AAA’s Diamond Rating System does not cover Cuba at this time."

From Forbes Travel Guide: "At this time we do not have any star rated hotels in Cuba though we continue to watch the destination with interest and look forward to launching the country as a new market in the not too distant future. We are really waiting for the hotel infrastructure to generate levels of service that would qualify them to be considered for an evaluation and potential Star Award.  We have not sent any inspectors into Cuba at this time for this reason though have already made high level visits by members of our Executive office."  The Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide, Gerald J. Inzerillo, visited the Republic of Cuba in 2016.

The Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana may be the first property in the Republic of Cuba to earn a four or five rating from AAA and/or Forbes Travel Guide.

There are three (3) properties in the Republic of Cuba with ratings by Boulogne Billancourt, France-based Michelin Travel Partner (a subsidiary of Clermont-Ferrand, France-based Michelin): Hotel El Bosque (3 stars), Hotel Kohly (3 stars) and NH Capri La Habana (4 stars).  However, these ratings are deemed too robust by United States-based travel industry executives.

A challenge for the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana will be to control the impact upon guests by the consistently problematic city of Havana electrical grid, water quality and pressure, waste disposal, and internet communications infrastructure. 

Another challenge for the Gran Hotel Kempinski La Habana will be to incentivize employees who are Republic of Cuba nationals as they are not unaware of the convertible currency differences between what guests pay and the spending value of what they earn.  An environment based upon a passive or active requirement for gratuities to obtain basic guest services is unsustainable. 

Food quality, value and pricing have been consistent issues for hotels throughout the Republic of Cuba with an increasing number of guests, especially those staying in hotels located in cities, choosing to pay for meals (lunch and dinner) at paladares (privately-owned restaurants), even when lunch or dinner may be included in their accommodation package.

Related Blog Post: http://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/12/28/seeking-better-roi-cuba-hospitality-companies-to-become-landlords-rather-than-managers?rq=Forbes

Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (a subsidiary of Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International), is scheduled to open the Hotel Inglaterra on 1 December 2017 in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba.  On 16 March 2016, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide reported that the company would in 2016 manage two (2) properties in the Republic of Cuba- the Hotel Quinta Avenida (rebranded as Four Points Sheraton Havana on 27 June 2016) and Hotel Inglaterra; and had signed a Letter of Intent to manage a third property, the Hotel Santa Isabel.  No reason(s) has been provided for the delay in implementing the management contract or the Letter of Intent.  The Hotel Inglaterra will be amongst the company's 122-property The Luxury Collection; the Hotel Santa Isabel is expected to be included in The Luxury Collection.

Ile-de-France, France-based AccorHotels will be managing the Gaviota SA-owned US$60 million Sofitel So La Habana under construction at the corner of Prado and Malecón and scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2019.  The company also plans to convert the Accor-managed 178-room Mercure Sevilla Havane into a 112-room MGallery property in Havana; the estimated cost is US$20 million.

Like The Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana, The Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Santa Isabel, Sofitel So La Habana, and Hotel Saratoga (owned by Republic of Cuba government-operated Habaguanex SA under the auspice of GAESA and managed under contract with a non-Republic of Cuba-based entity) will likely seek to earn AAA Four Diamond Award or AAA Five Diamond Award and/or Four-Star Rating or Five-Star Rating from Forbes Travel Guide. 

 Condition of the building prior to revovation

Condition of the building prior to revovation