More than once I have heard people say that the IBEROSTAR Varadero’s lobby is the most luxurious in Cuba. Located in a lush, landscaped setting, with winding pools, this colonial style establishment is the hotel which best represents, we could say, the essence of the IBEROSTAR Group on the island. Its 386 spacious rooms are spread out across a large complex located 14 kilometers from the center of Varadero.
For Muriel Jean and Richard Stephen Cole, both over 60 years of age, the IBEROSTAR Varadero has everything they need for an unforgettable holiday. The British couple has visited the hotel six times because “the staff are very good and they know us as well as we know them. The place has a family feel where we can relax and take in breath of fresh air.”
Meanwhile, Michael Kenneth from Canada enjoys “Cuba’s beautiful blue waters, good food, warm weather, and peaceful atmosphere.”
The young Canadian, visiting Cuba for the first time, chose to stay at IBEROSTAR Varadero following a recommendation by his parents who stayed in one of the prestigious chain’s hotels in Jamaica, an experience which they described as the most thrilling of their lives.
Kenneth is adamant that he prefers the white beaches of Varadero, given that “there isn’t much traffic, people or noise, and I like the quiet.”
On the other hand, Michael Krochek, also from Canada, has traveled to Cuba three times, on two occasions staying at the IBEROSTAR Varadero. Krochek notes that although he has visited many places in the Caribbean, Cuba is the best for people looking to spend time with family and friends.
Argentine Guillermo Santiago Haidar, who has also stayed in IBEROSTAR hotels outside of Cuba, chose the Varadero facility on his trip to Cuba, which he describes as a “lovely country,” noting that the highlight of his visit was his stay at the beach resort, which he found to be quieter than other tourist destinations around the island.
Speaking to Granma International, IBEROSTAR representative in Cuba, Mateo Caldentey, agrees that the country has great potential in regards to its natural landscape, culture, security, and health offers.
According to Caldentey, although IBEROSTAR, which has been present on the island for almost a quarter century, has establishments in Havana, Cayo Largo del Sur, Varadero, Trinidad, and the keys off the coast of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila, starting next year it is ready to receive over four million visitors, given the island’s tourist boom and foreign investment law, which make this “one of the strong industries worth promoting,” stated the representative.
Mateo Caldentey was born in the small town of Son Servera, Mallorca, a Mediterranean island which receives 12 million tourists a year. In addition to Menorca and Ibiza, Mallorca is considered to be one of the birthplaces of Spain’s leisure industry, which is also where the Fluxà family founded IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts in 1986.
The chain, which was established in Palma de Mallorca, is part of the IBEROSTAR Group, one of Spain’s leading tourist companies, with over 60 years of experience. IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has over 100 four and five star hotels worldwide.
In 2004, the company portfolio of hotels in Cuba included the Daiquirí, Taíno, and Bella Costa, while work at that time was also underway to construct the IBEROSTAR Varadero. Caldentey noted that 12 years ago the company only had three hotels, however “we will have about 15” before the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, he also highlighted that the rate of return visitors to IBEROSTAR facilities in Cuba is about 40% because “as we say, they (guests) enjoy being stars.”
With Canada, the UK, Germany, and Argentina representing some of its top markets, IBEROSTAR’s online sales and those to Cubans have doubled in the last year alone, especially in destinations across the island’s northern keys and Varadero.
According to the expert, tourist numbers are expected to increase with the arrival of new airlines to Cuba, which is why IBEROSTAR has been planning for the future over the last couple of years, with an increasing number of projects.
Although establishing itself in the most attractive destinations worldwide, next to the planet’s best beaches and with optimal infrastructure and services, has benefited IBEROSTAR, the key to its success lies in a broad philosophy of well-defined values, executed by committed and professional staff.
The well deserved recipient of numerous international awards, IBEROSTAR is the trusted choice for million of satisfied clients around the globe, a position it has achieved through a combination of three key elements: quality service, constant renovation, and varied offers.
With plans to continue expanding across the island, IBEROSTAR is soon set to debut in Santiago de Cuba with three small hotels based in the city. The three establishments will offer a total of 140 rooms and be located in the center of the so-called Heroic City.
The expert noted that being based in “the premium zone of Santiago de Cuba,” means catering to a destination that is the birthplace of the Revolution, a site of great historical importance for the country. “Santiago and Havana are like Madrid and Barcelona in Spain,” he noted.
Meanwhile, IBEROSTAR is also set to manage two new hotels; one on the keys north of Holguín and the Packard, a spectacular facility belonging to Gaviota, the administration of which will be assumed by the Spanish chain sometime next year.
As of January 1, 2017, IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts will begin to manage their second hotel in Havana (following on from the IBEROSTAR Parque Central). With a total of 352 newly renovated rooms and set in a prime location on the capital’s seafront the future IBEROSTAR Habana Riviera will be a five star establishment.
Staying true to the building’s original architectural design, which dates back to the late 1950s, the hotel Riviera will soon undergo an ambitious and comprehensive renovation process, which will include communal spaces, with products and services raised to meet IBEROSTAR quality standards.
Thus, the Riviera is set to become the 12th hotel managed by the company on the island, will contribute to strengthening IBEROSTAR’s presence in an increasingly popular tourist destination, and represents a pivotal milestone in the chain’s history in Cuba.
Enric Noguer, the IBEROSTAR Group’s director general for the Americas stated that this hotel “is, I suppose for us, an especially important step which will allow us to qualitatively consolidate our presence in Havana with a historically renowned hotel.
“For IBEROSTAR, Cuba is an extremely important destination and key to our expansion strategy, which is why we will continue to aim to provide quality and competitive accommodation offers in this country.”
IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts currently has eleven hotels in Cuba, and is set to see its 13th opened in 2017: The IBEROSTAR Bella Vista, a five star, 12-story establishment in Varadero, with 827 rooms and a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the area, which according to Caldentey, “is a dream, its like floating in a balloon above the sea.”
In regards to other important IBEROSTAR hotels currently in operation, it is worth mentioning the company’s establishment in Trinidad, which despite having only 40 rooms, is renowned for its quality service. Meanwhile, Caldentey also mentioned the inauguration, last year, of Playa Pilar “a hotel with 482 rooms and a natural swimming pool located right on the beach.”
Regarding foreign investment, the IBEROSTAR representative noted that the chain presented a proposal, which is pending approval, for the Mariel Special Development Zone.
IBEROSTAR Varadero is a sight for sore eyes. Looking beyond the landscape however, its gastronomic offers include the very best of traditional Cuban culinary; sure to delight. Meanwhile, guests relax around the hotel, and note that the Water Park and spa are some one the establishment’s best facilities.
While the hotel’s customer service representative walks about politely greeting every client, in Russian, German, English, or Spanish, depending on their nationality.
I’ve spoken to several guests and talked to Mateo Caldentey. Our photographer carries in his camera photos which attest to the hotel’s charms; and now we have a better understanding of what exactly IBEROSTAR is creating, step by step, star by star.