HABANA, Cuba. – Amidst a deep economic crisis and with the worst indicators for the tourism sector in the last decade, due to a drop of close to 67% in the arrival of visitors to the island, the Cuban regime is getting ready to inaugurate two new, high standards hotels in Havana, both owned by GAESA, the military business consortium that dominates the Cuban economy.
Next March 21st, the Gran Bristol Hotel will open officially in Havana. It is located close to the Capitol building. The week before, on the 15th, the Grand Aston Hotel, located on 1st and Avenue D in El Vedado, will open its doors.
According to its official Facebook page, the Gran Bristol Hotel Havana –which features 162 guest rooms and an infinity pool on the 9th floor terrace- aims to start operations this March. International marketing for the hotel is being handled by the European chain Kempinski, which has managed with Gaviota S.A. the Gran Manzana Hotel in the former Manzana de Gómez in Old Havana since 2017, and another five-star hotel in Cayo Guillermo.
The present Gran Hotel Bristol is located on the same site where the Roma boarding house used to be. Then, after 1920, it became the Gran Hotel, which existed until the 1960’s when, amidst the chaos of appropriations ordered by Fidel Castro’s government, it was left to deteriorate into the deplorable structure it is today: one of many tenement houses. These tenements are very crowded and they are evidence of the housing deficit in the country. However, the restauration and recovery of these buildings for the international tourism sector have no positive repercussions or improvements to the living conditions of their former tenants (now displaced to peripheral neighborhoods). Neither do they benefit the neighboring communities that continue to be exposed to buildings collapsing and causing casualties, including children, like the one that occurred in January 2020, very close to the new hotel.
The Grand Aston La Habana Hotel, with more than 600 guest rooms distributed among two twin towers, will be managed jointly with Gaviota S.A. by the Archipiélago International chain, which is located iin Yakarta, Indonesia. Archipiélago plans to expand to more than 3,000 guest rooms at various tourism poles in Cuba, where it has been operating since 2019. Back then, it inaugurated the Grand Aston Cayo Las Brujas Hotel, with 700 guest rooms, and also took over the joint management of another hotel, the Aston Panorama Hotel in Havana, in an agreement with GAESA.
Between both new hotels, Gaviota S.A. will add some 800 guest rooms to its portfolio, thus coming closer to attaining the 50,000 additional guest rooms it aims to build and manage in the whole island for 2025. This, in spite of the fact that, of the 25,000 guest rooms that it has at the present time, most remain vacant, either because of a lack of guests or because of the deteriorated state some find themselves in. Regardless, this number of guest rooms has placed Archipiélago at the top of the lists that are regularly published by Reportur, a tourism publication.
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