Cuba Marriott Hotel
The US Treasury Department has approved Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International to operate hotels in Cuba, clearing the way for the opening of the first hotel in Cuba in more than a decade. American visits to Cuba will double this year, as a blanket travel ban has been lifted. The announcement reflects the ongoing efforts of the United States to open Cuba to tourists. Marriott, the world's second-largest hotel chain, and its parent company Hilton Worldwide have announced plans to open a hotel in Cuba.
American citizens should be able to travel to Cuba and draw their own conclusions freely about the future of relations between the United States and Cuba. Of course, we must acknowledge the strong historic voices in our country that are resolutely opposed to cooperation with Cuba, such as the Cuban Communist Party and the Cuban American National Assembly.
Marriott has more than 4,400 hotels, and Melia Hotels International, based in Spain, has 28 hotels in Cuba, while AccorHotels, based in Paris, has three, including the 568-room Pullman Cavo Coco, which opened in December. Cuba is one of the most populous countries in the world with 1.3 million inhabitants and the country needs a well-run hotel.
Several major U.S. airlines have already submitted route proposals for flights to Cuba, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines. The US government has now decided not to renew Marriott's license to do business in Cuba, telling the hotel company to end its relationship with its only hotel in Havana by August 31, 2020, and to end "all relations" with Marriott - according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notice, only hotels outside Havana by August 30, 2021. The decision is expected to be reviewed and renewed in 2018, it said, but Marriott can return to Cuba after approval from the U.S. government.
Until now, U.S. companies have been limited to the peer-to-peer accommodation service Airbnb, which has allowed Cubans to list their properties since last spring. Airbnb is allowed to work in Cuba because it connects visitors to private rentals in Havana and other parts of the country.
The European hotel group Iberostar Melia, which operates the hotel, also offers Americans overnight stays in the company's other hotels in Havana, where it is a partner of GAESA, as well as hotels managed by European hotel groups such as IBERostars and Melias.
As a result, the only American hotel company currently operating in Cuba is Marriott International, which received a license from the Obama administration in 2016 to renovate and manage several hotels in Havana. The administration extended Marriott's license for two years until 2018, but the company has no plans to open any other hotels in the country except the Sheraton brand in Havana, although it has repeatedly postponed opening its own hotels on the island. Marriott has signed a deal with the Cuban government to open at least three hotels (read more here), only one of which has been realized: the hotel, which reopened in 2016 under the "Sheraton" brand, was the first of two hotels managed by the company. American company, which manages only those in Cuba, is the result of an agreement between the U.S. government and the Marriott Hotel Group.
The agreement has drawn criticism because the hotel is owned by Gaviota, a company linked to the Cuban military, and because of its ties to the Cuban military. The agreement has drawn criticism for its ties to the government in Havana and for the fact that it has been renovated under the Sheraton brand.
Philip Peters, who runs FocusCuba, a consulting firm that advises Marriott, said the U.S. sanctions, which have separated the United States from the Cuban people and hurt the Cuban economy, have been positive.
Those who have followed Cuba-US relations closely for 40 years may remember that Trump has not always been so hostile to Havana. When he was a real estate mogul, there was even talk of skipping the embargo to open a Trump-branded hotel and golf resort, though this was his first visit to Cuba. He acknowledged that some members of his family were upset that he had taken the initiative, but he has no doubt that change in Cuba will come faster with commitment than with a continuation of the old rules.
Spain's Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, which operates 17 hotels in Cuba, also said the Trump Organization was trying to negotiate a deal to open its own hotel there. In his defense, Trump argued that he and Trump did nothing wrong because he paid for the exploratory trip and ultimately did not invest.
Starwood also has an agreement that the hotel will also become part of the Luxury Collection, though the agreement still needs to be approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. Sachl said the Treasury Department had told Marriott it must stop operating in Cuba by August 31, or it would not be allowed to operate other hotels on the island as Marriott had planned. The Department of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Homeland Security have notified hotel operator Starwood Hotels and Resorts International, a subsidiary of Marriott International Inc., that the company had to cease "all activities" in Cuba before August 31 and will not be allowed to operate other hotels on the islands that Marriott has planned, Sachin said. However, he said they have yet to disclose the full extent of their obligations under the deal.