Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey-based Super 8 Worldwide, a subsidiary of Parsippany, New Jersey-based Wyndham Worldwide has replaced Ile-de-France, France-based AccorHotels as the management contract holder for the Playa de Oro Hotel in Varadero, Republic of Cuba, owned by Republic of Cuba government-operated Grupo Hotelero Gran Caribe. Super 8 Worldwide is expected to commence operations in April 2017.
The management contract is reportedly through a Quebec, Canada-based consortium within which one of the members has a partnership with Wyndham Worldwide brands operating in Canada.
If authorization (license) was required, Wyndham Worldwide would be the second United States-based hospitality company to implement an authorization (license) from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury to manage a property in the Republic of Cuba.
Given the location of the property, the OFAC, when issuing a license (or other form of approval) would have known that the revenues of the property would be, at least in the short-term to medium-term, primarily derived from visitors to the Republic of Cuba who are not traveling within the twelve (12) authorized categories of travel- tourism not being one of them. The majority of visitors subject to United States jurisdiction who visit the Republic of Cuba do not include Varadero in their itinerary as it is primarily a tourist, rather than a cultural or an educational destination.
The twelve (12) authorized categories are included in the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000.
From the company: "Super 8 ® Worldwide is the world's largest economy lodging chain with over 2,200 properties in the U.S., Canada and China. Super 8 has recently launched a brand refresh with a new logo and a fresh, new interior and exterior design program. Guests can depend on every Super 8 to deliver a complimentary SuperStart breakfast, free high-speed Internet access, upgraded bath amenities, free in-room coffee and free premium cable or Satellite TV. Kids under 17 stay free at Super 8."
In September 2016, Geoff Ballotti, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Worldwide:
“We are working on opportunities there,” Loewen said. “Our teams have been there. We have partners that we’re talking to. We’re looking to bring some more brands there. We’ve talked both to people who want the upscale side and some who really see the need for good solid economy hotels.” The biggest challenge, of course, is utilities and other infrastructure. “The government’s got a lot of work to do down there, I think. But it will be a great location.”
Mr. Robert Loewen, Executive Vice President And Chief Operating Officer of Wyndham Worldwide:
"We always look at every opportunity, and we think Cuba and the Caribbean in general are going to be big opportunities. I’m excited from a personal standpoint because 25 years ago I worked in the Caribbean doing yacht charters. And every year, it was a story of, 'Cuba’s going to open up, and we can finally take sailboats to Cuba.' It looks like it’s finally broken down and is opening up, and the infrastructure is not there."
In May 2016, Hollywood, Florida-based RCI (a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide), reported that it would offer travel options to the Republic of Cuba for its timeshare owners.
"RCI is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange with approximately 4,300 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries. RCI pioneered the concept of vacation exchange in 1974, offering members increased flexibility and versatility with their vacation ownership experience. Today, through the RCI Weeks® program, the week-for-week exchange system, and the RCI Points® program, the industry’s first global points-based exchange system, RCI provides flexible vacation options to its 3.8 million RCI subscribing members each year. RCI’s luxury exchange program, The Registry Collection® program, is the world’s largest program of its kind with approximately 200 affiliated properties either accessible for exchange or under development on six continents. RCI is part of Wyndham Destination Network and the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands (NYSE: WYN)."
On 16 March 2016, Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (a subsidiary of Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International) reported the company had received a license from the OFAC to manage properties in the Republic of Cuba: The Hotel Quinta Avenida (re-branded as Four Points Sheraton Havana on 27 June 2016) and Hotel Inglaterra (delayed until 1 December 2017); and a Letter of Intent to manage a third property, Hotel Santa Isabel (no further information provided since 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."
The three properties referenced by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are owned by 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).
Marriott International, before acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, reported in 2016 that it was exploring property management opportunities in the Republic of Cuba.