By the end of this year, the Meliá chain will have investments in 34 hotels in the country, with 14,661 rooms. The Spanish company, present in Cuban tourism for more than 28 years, will close 2018 with significant growth in both new hotels and new, attractive locations.
The tourist sector is one of the most active, in terms of foreign investment in the country. Some 21 international hotel chains have operations in Cuba, and the portfolio of projects seeking foreign capital, prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Commerce, includes 140 proposals directed toward expanding the presence of internationally known chains on the island, in hotel management and sales.
Likewise, this chain is intent upon diversifying its tourist product, capturing new markets, and expanding extra-hotel options toward the development of real estate associated with golf courses, complemented with marinas and high-tech amusement parks.
Currently, 75 % of the hotel rooms in the country are managed under one of the modalities of foreign investment, and 45,333 via 95 administration and sales contracts.
MORE MELIÁ HOTELS IN CUBA
Recognized as one of the most veteran chains in the country, Meliá maintains its marked interest in Cuba. The updating of its products and new openings reflect the company’s commitment to its Cuban partners, according to Meliá executives.
Pursuing the sustainable, balanced development of tourism in Cuba is a point of agreement between the two parties, as new investment projects are appearing in new destinations.
Before the end of the year, Meliá will inaugurate the luxurious Paradisus Los Cayos, on Santa María Key. This is the first, new generation Paradisus, developed by the company. With 802 rooms, the eco-resort includes a Royal Service floor, and an area called The Reserve, with the exclusive services of a family concierge.
Among its attractions are 34 pools and 190 rooms in the Garden Swim Up area, as well as a broad and varied gastronomical menu in 12 restaurants and 14 bars.
Likewise, this coming December, set to open in Varadero is the Meliá Internacional. With a privileged location on the beach, this classic is reborn with a more modern concept of comfort and technology.
The 12-story building, with a service area called The Level to ensure high, differentiated standards for families and those preferring an adults only environment. Food services will be another of the hotel’s strong points, with 22 restaurants that make the hotel’s ground floor a veritable boulevard of gastronomical options, and 15 bars serving international and Cuban cocktails. An attractive spa on the top floor, with an infinity pool, offers a stunning ocean view.
Also interested in the development of circuit tourism, Meliá has begun operations in historic cities like Cienfuegos and Camagüey. According to representatives of the chain in Cuba, the company’s presence in these destinations will allow for the generation of synergy between cities in the interior of the island and beach resorts, so visitors can enjoy a broader range of the country’s attractions.
In these cities, Meliá is immersed in the process of redesigning the identity of the Jagua and La Unión hotels, to open then as the Innside Cienfuegos Jagua and the Meliá Unión. Something similar is underway in Camagüey with the Colón and the Gran Hotel.
Over the coming years, the company plans to expand into more patrimonial cities, making clear the growing interest of foreign chains in going beyond sun and sand vacations. In 2019, the opening of the Innside Camagüey is projected; and in 2020, the incorporation of three hotels in Trinidad: the Meliá Trinidad, Meliá Punta Ancón, and the Sol House Ancón.
Cuba’s international tourism fair, FITCuba 2018, provided an opportunity to sign a number of agreements, and announced during the event were covenants between the Cuban state enterprise group Cubanacán, the British Ceiba Investments, and Meliá Hotels International.
The agreement implies the beginning of a new stage for the joint enterprise which owns the hotels Sol Palmeras, Meliá Varadero, and Meliá Las Américas, with a capital remodeling and comprehensive re-design projected, to reflect current trends in the industry.
This ambitious renovation plan includes the Meliá Habana, with the addition of 168 new rooms planned, to expand capacity, and the creation of a modern convention center.
Information provided by the chain indicates that the agreement involves an investment of 150 million dollars on the part of the proprietor, again reflecting the confidence foreign investors have in Cuba as a tourist destination.
STRENGTHENING EVENT TOURISM
Cuba is taking note of the great potential offered by event and incentive tourism. The best example of this was FITCuba 2018 itself, with the participation of 3,000 persons, highlighting the possibilities for hosting such gatherings and forums.
Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero Jorge, during the closing session of the international fair, emphasized the potential for developing event tourism in the country, saying that 2019 will be the year to expand this modality in Cuba. He added that the country’s industry has plenty of experience in this type of activity, as well as the professionals and venues to become a preferred destination.
In this context, Meliá is strengthened, becoming a reference in the organization of events, conferences, and incentive travel. The chain offers a broad range of products to ensure the success of social and professional events, with more than 70 multi-purpose areas and 11,800 square meters of space in ten destinations, in a variety of locales with beaches, pools, gardens, and terraces.
Along with these novelties, coming from the company are other openings and changes, with a special focus on the holding of events and hosting incentive groups. The new Paradisus Los Cayos offers 959 square meters for meetings, which can be divided into as many as four separate areas, for a total capacity of 910 persons in theater format and 500 for banquets, plus another meeting hall.
Another hotel that will focus on this segment of the market is the Meliá Internacional in Varadero. Its exclusive design makes it one of the company’s most innovative, with a modern convention center that includes spaces for events, seven meeting rooms, a main hall with a capacity for 1,039 persons in theater seating and 577 for banquets.
The amenities of these two large hotels, on Santa María Key and in the Varadero beach resort, provide new venues for the holding of large events in sites well-equipped for such gatherings.
Likewise, over the next few years, joining this effort will be the new Innside Camagüey with more than 600 square meters of multi-purpose space, and the Innside Cienfuegos Jagua, which will offer its 350 square meters for groups and events.
The Meliá Habana, with its ambitious renovation, will also follow this path. The modern convention center planned here will feature a total area of 2,800 square meters for events, including a ballroom which can be divided into four multi-purpose rooms, and seven other meeting rooms - all with coffee break services available, as well as alternative locations on terraces or poolside.
The Meliá chain, working in Cuba for more than two decades, has signed administration and sales contracts for extendable five year terms at 15 joint venture hotels with foreign operators, and 65% of the rooms in the country managed under administration contracts.
LONG TERM INVESTMENTS
In a recent press conference, Michel Bernal Cutis, commercial director at the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur), insisted that the ministry has a solid organizational plan to develop event and incentive tourism. Projected in its investment plan through 2030, are projects to diversify this modality on the island.
As celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana in 2019 draw close, several investments in the city are foreseen. According to José Daniel Alonso, Mintur development general director, included on the list of new hotels here are the Hotel Packard, at Prado and Malecón in 2019, as well as the Corona, Metropolitano, and Gran Hotel. Others will be located at Malecón and D Street, Third and 70th, G Street and 29th via a Vietnamese company, and another beside the Tryp Habana Libre, at 25th and K Street.
For its part, the Iberostar chain, which manages the Hotel Habana Riviera, will invest 35 million euros in the restoration of this classic, one of the most emblematic in the Cuban capital. Likewise, the Habana Libre will remodel many of its rooms and the Hotel Universitario will also soon be ready. Other novelties include the restoration of the Hotel New York and the Gran Hotel, located next to the historic Martí Theater.
In its investment projects, the Ministry of Tourism employs some 1.035 billion in total currency (dollars and Cuban pesos). Through September 16, close to 3,425,000 visitors had arrived in Cuba and the expectation is that the total for the year will reach 4.8 million, and in 2019 surpass five million.