Cuba: Back And “Better Than Ever”
Gaviota announces new openings, projects, increased arrivals

with Kerry Sharpe

(L-R) Eloy Govea, Cuba Tourist Board; Carlos Latuff, president, Gaviota; Frank Oltuski, vice president of marketing, Gaviota; Nieves Ricardo, Cuba Tourist Board.

Nieves Ricardo with Xavier Destribats, general manager of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski in Havana.

Tina the Travel Agent is already planning her next Cuban vacation.

The Cuban Tourist Board in Canada, together with Gaviota Tourism Group and various hotel partners from the island, were in Toronto this week hosting appreciation events for the industry, first with a media luncheon on 24SEPT, followed by travel agent event at the Palais Royale on 25SEPT. 

On the agenda? An update on the destination as a whole following last year’s hurricanes, along with details on a number of new properties, upgrades and plans for the years to come.

With Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Coco taking the brunt of Irma and Maria when those hurricanes passed by the island almost this time last year, affecting many of Gaviota’s hotel partners in those destinations, the message was clear: they are back and better than ever.

“We are not just recovered – that would be an understatement – we’re really better than ever at every single level,” said Eloy Govea, director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada. And that statement is backed up by numbers: “Our numbers for September (2018) are not only better than they were last year, but they are also higher than September 2016, and our forecast for the winter is 5% higher than winter 2016/2017.”

The visit to Toronto, and then on to Montreal, was also focused on sharing the many new plans and developments coming to Cuba, including a comprehensive slate of projects, investments and hotel openings that will occur through 2025.

Gaviota president Carlos Latuff, and vice president of marketing, Frank Oltuski, were also in town to share the news personally with travel agents, highlighting the fact that by the end of 2018, Gaviota properties will incorporate a total of 3,000 new rooms and 33,200 redesigned rooms across 93 locations.

“Gaviota represents over 50% of hotel properties in the country and manages several others, and continues to achieve 12% growth per year [in accommodation capacity],” said Oltuski. The company plans to maintain this upward trend by continuing to “honour its high standards in innovation, renovation, and guest services.”  

The other ventures and developments highlighted during the visit included:

  • The newly opened 321-room Iberostar Grand Hotel Packard in Havana;
  • The debut of the 250-room Paseo del Prado Hotel, opening in 2019;
  • The ongoing launch of numerous modern-style hotels, through 2021;
  • Plans and projections for 7,000 new hotel rooms before 2025 to keep up with demand;
  • The renovation statuses of the Grand Hotel, Hotel Regis, Palacio Cueto and the Marquis of Monte Hermoso;
  • The full list of 2020 openings, including two Cayo Santa Maria properties: La Salina Noreste with 633 rooms and La Salina Suroeste with 621 rooms; and
  • The continuing rollout of WiFi service in all areas of their Santa María hotels and the eventual extension of the service to all Gaviota properties.

Kerry Sharpe

Kerry Sharpe Columnist

Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.

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