Starwood scores first deals with island since 1959

Updated: 2016-03-21 08:02

By Agence France-Presse in New York(China Daily)

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide said on Saturday it has signed three hotel deals in Cuba, a first for a US hospitality company since 1959 on the island.

Starwood said two of the hotels would open later this year and that it had signed a letter of intent for a third.

"We are confident Starwood is the right partner to help write the next chapter of relations between Cuba and American business, and we moved quickly and enthusiastically to pursue opportunities following recent government actions," said Kenneth Siegel, Starwood's chief administrative officer and general counsel.

Instead of building from the ground up, Starwood is moving into existing upscale properties in need of renovations: the landmark Hotel Inglaterra will become a member of its Luxury Collection and the Hotel Quinta Avenida will be rebranded as Four Points by Sheraton Havana.

"As we've seen throughout the world, our entry into new markets has a positive effect on local communities, preserving and protecting the culture and delicate ecosystems while improving employment opportunities, which were driving forces in our discussions," Siegel said.

Starwood's chief executive underscored the importance of timing in scoring the deals.

"With Cuba's rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire US hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point," said Thomas Mangas.