Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced late last night that it was to become the first US-based hospitality company to make its way into Cuba in nearly 60 years, after receiving authorisation from the US Treasury to run three hotels on the islands.
The move follows an announcement by President Obama in December 2014 that he intended to reinstate diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, while the US Embassy in Cuba was reestablished in August last year and a deal was struck to establish frequent commercial flights between the two countries last month.
"Starwood's history of creativity, innovation, sustainability and being a first mover is core to who we are and what has made us a formidable competitor in the industry with a long, global lead," said Thomas Mangas, chief executive of Starwood. "I am proud of our team who worked tirelessly to make today possible.
"With Cuba's rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire US hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point."
Starwood will be running Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Quinta Avenida and Hotel Santa Isabel.
"We are confident Starwood is the right partner to help write the next chapter of relations between Cuba and American business, and we moved quickly and enthusiastically to pursue opportunities following recent government actions," remarked Kenneth Siegel, administrative chief and general counsel at Starwood. "As we've seen throughout the world, our entry into new markets has a positive effect on local communities, preserving and protecting the culture and delicate ecosystems while improving employment opportunities, which were driving forces in our discussions."
Keith Grossman, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Starwood, added: "Through our discussions and due diligence, it became clear that Starwood was the right choice for its unique approach to hospitality, sustainability and design that would enrich the local communities and enhance the guest experience."