Next year is poised to be an exciting one for Cuba, as the destination embarks on a journey of growth to add more than 4,000 new rooms by the end of 2020.
L-R: Juan Carlos Soto Garcia, President of Hola Sun; Barbara Cruz Rodriguez, Director of Marketing and Sales for the Cuba Ministry of Tourism; and Lessner Gomez, Director of the Cuba Tourism Board in Canada.
Lessner Gomez, newly appointed Director of the Cuba Tourism Board in Canada, highlighted some of these developments at an Autentica Cuba fiesta in Toronto, marking the beginning of the winter travel season.
The supporters of one of Canada's most popular Caribbean destinations were out in full force, with 150 guests in attendance, including travel agents, tour operators and hotel and other travel partners.
Canada represents 26% of visitors to Cuba. Of the 3.3 million visitors the island welcomed this year through SEPT 2019, Canadian arrivals tallied 859,000.
Brenda Bradley, Sales Executive, Cuba Division with Melia Hotels International (left) and Dianne Pedroso, Area Sales Manager with Air Canada Vacations.
"This means that the market to Cuba is still stable," said Gomez. "Cuba is ready for the winter season 2019-20. There are more than 26 gateways from Canada to Cuba and we are more than confident that we will have a great winter season. As always, we count on you for your support to achieve this."
Between 2019-2020, Gomez said 25 new properties will open in nearly every tourism region on the island.
Here are some of the notable upcoming and recent openings highlighted by Gomez:
Cayo Cruz Cayo Cruz, located less than an hour from Cayo Coco Airport, is a brand new tourism destination. The island is getting its first property, the adults-only 546-room Valentin Cayo Cruz resort in NOV 2019.
WestJet BDMs Matthew Djorsev, BDM (left) and Andrei Losinski.
"Cayo Cruz is excellent not just for the sun or the beach, but you can also fish, make fried fish and go diving with different tours. It's a dream," said Gomez.
Cayo Guillermo Neighbouring Cayo Cruz is the island of Cayo Guillermo, where a new 245-room Kempinski Cayo Guillermo will be the first non-all-inclusive in the area.
Cayo Guillermo is also getting the 248-room Grand Muthu on Playa Pilar beach, the first resort in Cuba to cater to the LGBTQ market.
Rick McCauley, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing and MICE for Canada (left) and Yoel Marrero Latorre, Commercial Subdirector with Barcelo.
Ivan Pierri, Room Division Manager with MGM Muthu Hotels Cuba, told Open Jaw that all staff will receive special training to ensure all guests are treated with the utmost equality.
Cayo Santa Maria DEC 2019 will see the opening of the Sirenis Cayo Santa Maria Le Mirage.
Havana Gomez said that in Havana, the destination is committed to preserving the authenticity of the 500-year-old city, but that doesn't close the door to modernity in hotel design.
The luxury Sofitel Paseo del Prado is set for a NOV 2019 opening in the heart of the city at the corner of Malecón Blvd and Prado Blvd. Its 250 rooms and suites are designed around the dances of the city: ballet, Son Cubano and the salsa.
There's also the third Kempinski branded property in Cuba poised to open by the end of the year. With 162 rooms and suites, the Gran Hotel Bristol is located one block from the Capitolio and two blocks from its sister property, the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski.
Varadero In Varadero, Cuba’s original beach destination, Melia International opened in FEB 2019. Gomez says the property was built with the newest technology and is a model of the “new-gen” hotel concept for Cuba.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.