Qatar signs deal for new luxury hotel in Cuba
Havana, May 7, 2009
Qatar and Cuba signed have an agreement to build a $75 million luxury hotel on Cuba's Cayo Largo in the first major joint venture between the Gulf country and the communist island.
Construction on the 250-room project would begin next year with the aim of opening in 2012, they said.
The two state-owned partners, investment firm Qatari Diar and Cuba's Gran Caribe, said the five-star hotel could be expanded to 450 rooms. Sixty luxury villas are also planned.
Cayo Largo is an island in the Caribbean Sea off Cuba's southwestern coast.
Qatari Diar chief executive Ghanim bin Saad Al Saad said there was "great demand" for top quality hotels in Cuba, which drew 2.3 million tourists in 2008.
Since Raul Castro took over as president last year, Cubans have been permitted in hotels that were previously only for foreigners, but few can afford to stay in them because salaries average about $20 a month.
Al Saad and Gran Caribe president Luis Miguel Diaz Sanchez said the hotel was not being built with an American clientele in mind, although the US government is loosening its longstanding ban on most US travel to the island just 90 miles (145 km) from Florida.
President Barack Obama recently lifted restrictions on Cuban American travel to Cuba and bills are pending in the US Congress that would completely eliminate the ban that dates back to the Cold War.
The United States has had a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962 aimed at toppling the communist government installed by Fidel Castro after he took power in a 1959 revolution.
Al Saad said Qatar, which has the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world, views Cuba as ripe with investment opportunities and is looking at other possible projects, not all in tourism.
The Qatari company, which is a unit of the Qatar Investment Authority, has more than 80 projects worldwide worth in total about $60 billion, but intends to make Cuba one of its principal areas of activity, Al Saad said.
"Cuba has strong economic bases, above all in tourism," he said. "We want to send the clear message to the world that Qatar is at Cuba's side." Qatar and Cuba have an agreement for Cuba, which regularly sends physicians to other countries, to provide medical staff and supervisors for a Qatari hospital. Al Saad said the two countries are also discussing possible agriculture ventures. - Reuters
More Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Stories
- Abu Dhabi runway closed for upgradation work
- Etihad to fly three times a day to Moscow
- Etihad Regional to lease 4 ATR aircraft
- Etihad soars high with record $6.1bn revenue
- Plaza opens lounges at Bengaluru
- Mövenpick opens organic hotel in Egypt
- Abu Dhabi to expand trade engagement programme
- WTO in deal to promote adventure travel
- Iata cuts global airline profit forecast to $18.7bn
- Gulf Hotels plans $132m waterfront property in Dubai
- Yas Island targets German tourist trade
- Sharq Doha unveils Al Dana Garden
- Beacon technology 'ideal' to aviation industry
- Emergency drill to take place at Amman airport
- JA Resorts to launch high-end resort In Maldives
- $5.3bn hotel projects coming up in Saudi
- Hilton appoints new GM for Alexandria hotel
- Air Arabia opens new sales office in Bahrain
- Lufthansa aims high with 'First Class' service
- Emirates launches new service to Boston
- Dubai Airports 'powers down' for green initiative
- City Seasons opens 5-star hotel in Abu Dhabi
- Etihad alert on fog
- Bahrain F1 visa procedures issued
- Oman Air appoints GSA for Turkey
- $40bn investment in Gulf airports likely
- Celebrity chef to open restaurant at InterContinental
- FRHI appoints wellness vice president
- Dubai, Abu Dhabi hotels top performance
- Malaysia Airlines jet presumed crashed, 239 onboard