A millionaire investment programme to revive two iconic Havana hotels of the 50s

Posted: 31-Dec-18 06:37

Two Havana jewels from the late 1950s considered the cry of fashion and height of luxury back in their heyday, are to receive a major makeover as part of a millionaire investment programme. The Hotel Habana Riviera and Tryp Hotel Habana Libre (formerly the Havana Hilton at the time of its opening) will benefit from a major overhaul to their premises, following some incomplete refurbishment efforts that didn’t have the impact desired.

A millionaire investment programme to revive two iconic Havana hotels of the 50s

Managed by Iberostar and Melia Hotels International respectively, the Habana Riviera and Tryp Habana Libre will start receiving major upgrades and renovation works throughout thanks to the awarding of millionaire investments that seek to restore their old-time splendour and bring back their original 50s swing but with a modern twist. The idea is to bring them to the 21st century while preserving some of their original features and valuable works of art, of which there are quite a few, from a remarkable set of sculptures by Florencio Gelabert at the Riviera to gigantic murals by Amelia Pelaez (and a number of other prestigious Cuban artists) at the Habana Libre.

The millionaire sums destined to renovate both hotels will come from its current managing companies. On one hand, the Riviera will receive an injection of $35 million euros starting next year, and although the hotel has already received some renovation works since Iberostar took over its management from Gran Caribe in 2017, including the rescuing and renovation of the iconic Copa Room, there is still a lot to be done.

On the other hand, the general director at MINTUR (Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism), Jose R. Daniel Alonso, revealed that they are studying the financing of major renovations at the Tryp Habana Libre with a proposed investment of $25 million dollars by Melia Hotels International, the hotel’s managing company since the 90s.

Talking about past renovation projects carried out at some hotels, he said that this time it wasn’t about making partial changes, but to carry out a complete, all-encompassing overhaul of both iconic properties, both of which are declared National Monuments due to their historical value.

“It’s not about making improvements in independent areas, but about undertaking a comprehensive programme that includes, for example, feasibility studies and technical preparation to guarantee return on investment.”

Alonso highlighted that in order to reverse the negative results of previous refurbishment attempts, paying particular attention to "matters related to technical preparation and direct attention by Basic Investment Units" was key.

Up until the end of November this year, some 9,929 hotel rooms out of a total of 70,879 in all of Cuba were deemed to be out of service, proving the need for better maintenance overall and more refurbishment works.

At present, Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism has an ambitious hotel development programme in place until the end of 2030.
Melia is Cuba’s oldest foreign hotel chain in operation and it has announced equally ambitious expansion plans on the island. Melia will close 2018 with a total of 34 hotels and 14,661 rooms in Cuba. Iberostar, on the other hand, has increased their bet on the island, running in second place with the managing of 27 hotels and 7,881 rooms nationwide (and more in the pipeline).

According to figures revealed by Spanish newspaper, El Pais, Spanish hotel chains control 80 per cent of Cuba’s four-star hotels and 90 per cent of five-star hotels.

Cuba remains Melia’s biggest expansion site in the Caribbean, where it plans to open six new hotel properties in the short to medium-term, adding 2,700 more rooms to their total in the island.

Iberostar, on its part, celebrated its 25th anniversary in Cuba this year and has growth plans that will see it reach the 12,000-room milestone in the island, where it currently has a total of 7,170, distributed across 20 hotels nationwide (which account for 17 per cent of its global presence).

Last September, it opened the Iberostar Grand Packard in Havana, a 321-room hotel poised to redefine luxury in the capital while in November it opened its first ever property in eastern Cuba with the launch of Iberostar Holguin, a beachfront five-star all-inclusive resort with 638 rooms. 


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