“This 2019 is a big year for Islazul, full of commercial challenges and huge improvements to its facilities,” announced Rasiel Tovar Rodríguez, president of the hotel group, in a press conference.
As he explained, 2018 was a year focused mainly on quality, and seeking better value for money. This year, the idea is to achieve coherence between the improvements that are being made and the marketing of the group’s products, working to meet customers’ expectations.
To meet its goals, the hotel group is implementing a comprehensive investment plan that includes not only the improvement of many of its facilities throughout the country, but also the inauguration of new spaces and more modern products.
“This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Islazul, and this is the pretext for the improvement of many of the chain’s products, and to face new challenges relating to foreign investment,” explained Osnier Fonseca Cabrera, Islazul vice president of Marketing.
“We are open to foreign investment, especially in terms of administration with financing and commercialization. For this, we already have an administration contract with Meliá (hotel chain),” he noted.
“We currently have agreements with this Spanish chain for the management of some of our hotels in Camagüey province: the Gran Hotel and Hotel Colón. All this implies investment and an improved product. With this program, we hope to introduce in the country, by the end of 2019, the Meliá chain’s Innside brand; and we will begin with the Hotel Camagüey,” Fonseca added.
He noted that Islazul is in the process of negotiating with several prospective partners and operators around the world. Invitations to tender have been extended in destinations such as Havana, Varadero, Camagüey, Sancti Spíritus and Santiago de Cuba, which demonstrate the chain’s interest in growing.
Tovar added: “The Sercotel chain, meanwhile, with a presence in Havana, will begin to manage more hotels in Cuba. In addition, there is the possibility of renegotiating with other chains that may be interested in hotel management.”
Referring to infrastructure, Fonseca noted that investments are being made throughout the country. The most significant are in Havana and Varadero, the two destinations where Islazul has the largest number of rooms.
In the case of the Cuban capital, and as part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of its founding, the chain will inaugurate the Hotel Vedado Azul, located on 2nd Street, between 23rd and 25th Streets, in Plaza de la Revolución municipality. This small but very comfortable hotel joins the recently inaugurated San Juan Hotel in Matanzas; El Florial, in Villa Clara; and El Deportivo in Santiago de Cuba.
In addition, almost complete renovation is planned for the Lincoln, Colina, Caribbean, and Paseo Habana hotels, and other Islazul facilities in the capital. The chain has a total of ten facilities in Havana, offering around 3,000 rooms.
Tovar also highlighted a project being developed this year with the Cuban Medical Services Marketing Enterprise (SMC).
“One of our modalities is nature tourism, and that’s why we have teamed up with SMC, and have hotels close to rehabilitation centers. I’m referring to Hotel Elguea, in Corralillo, Villa Clara; and Los Lagos de Mayajigua Hotel, in San José de los Lagos, Sancti Spíritus.
“Another is El Mirador de San Diego, in Pinar del Río, which is also next to a rehabilitation center. Together, Islazul and SMC are developing projects for the total remodeling of these services, and to further support the development of health tourism,” the Islazul president reported.
A PRESENCE THROUGHOUT CUBA
Islazul has a total of 117 facilities including hotels, motels, hostels, villas and serviced apartments. It also offers holiday homes, with 887 in four key destinations: Habana del Este, Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, and Santa Lucía beach in Camagüey.
The chain has a presence in most of the country’s provincial capitals and heritage cities, as well as its beach and nature destinations, as its slogan “Throughout Cuba” states. This year, it is set on raising standards across its facilities.
“Islazul has two, three, and four star hotels. In the center of Sancti Spíritus, we have three four-star hotels, as well as in the center of Bayamo, the Royalton and the recently opened Telegrafo Hotel, and Hotel Florial in Santa Clara. In addition to these, with this year’s improvements, we are aiming to raise the standard of many of our hotels to higher categories,” Tovar explained.
Currently, around 70% of Islazul’s clients are Cuban, while close to 20% are of other nationalities. As is the case nationally, its biggest market is tourists from Canada, followed by Europeans, who enjoy tour modalities throughout the island.
“The national market increases especially in the summer, and on certain dates such as Mother’s Day, February 14, and others. For years, we have earned a very good reputation and there are many Cubans who enjoy our services,” Tovar stressed.
In addition, Islazul actively participates in the most important tourist events held in the country, such as the International Nature Tourism Event (TURNAT), and the International Tourism Fair (FITCuba), and also hosts congresses, events, and meetings throughout the year.
“Today we continue working to provide Wi-Fi connection in all our facilities. An intense program has been undertaken so that our customers have access to new technologies, and we help meet the (national) challenge of reaching 5,100,000 international visitors in 2019,” the hotel group’s president concluded.
Islazul operates medium and small capacity hotels, ranging from 40 rooms up to 300. It currently has 9,073 rooms, plus new openings that are already providing services in the different provincial capitals of the country.
Today, the chain remains focused on improving the quality of its service and the comfort of its facilities. It is therefore opening up to foreign investment, and working to increase online sales, negotiate with operators and diversify its products. In the lead up to the celebrations for its 25th anniversary, on August 1st, the most important thing, according to its president “is to be prepared to grow, and continue growing.”