Check out the new Sheraton Havana, located in the Miramar district (on Fifth Ave, between 76th and 80th). Reuters reports a fresh new sign posted on the wall — “Four Points by Sheraton”. This will make Sheraton is the first hotel in Cuba to operate under a US brand since the 1959 revolution (according to Cuba Journal). The area is chic, mostly residential homes with several world embassies. Room listings start at $249, just to further separate the “have” and “have-nots” on the island (just to make matters more confusing in this 2 tier economy). However more tourism means more money trickling into the local economy, including the new cuenta-propistas (Cuba’s private sector, and sort of their new middle class).
Time will tell how all these forces will converge to help Cuba. Starwood is the first US company to commit major dough to Cuba’s tourism sector. It’s important to know that all these deals are joint ventures with the Cuban state, which means it is a delicate dance in business control. The second Sheraton deal, announced last month, is the takeover of Hotel Ingalettera (much more centric to foreigners in the Habana Vieja area). Hotel Inglaterra will fall under Starwoods “Luxury Collection” end of this year. For now, the existing Miramar Sheraton will not close for renovations, which will take several months. Business is open as usual. Yesterday, some painters were spotted painting the lobby walls. Stay tuned.