The president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and his predecessor in the position and mentor, Raúl Castro, inaugurated this Saturday the new luxury hotel Paseo del Prado, which completes the trio of five-star establishments in Old Havana and with the one that the Caribbean country hopes to continue attracting travelers.
Castro, leader of the governmental Communist Party of Cuba (only legal), and his successor in front of the Island Executive cut the tapes in a simple opening ceremony of the installation, the first in America of the luxury brand SO / of the group French Accor and the ninth in the world, according to Cuban state television.
Located in the privileged corner of the historic Paseo del Prado and the Havana Malecon, the hotel has 250 rooms -36 suites- and an elegant design inspired by ballet, Cuban son and salsa. Its entry into operation coincides with the celebrations for the 500 years that the capital of Cuba will meet on November 16.
The 36-story building stands out for its tower in the shape of the bow of a ship and behind its avant-garde air is the signature of the Spanish designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, responsible for creating from the hotel's logo to the uniforms of the personal.
Accor's CEO for North America, Central America and the Caribbean, Heather Mc Crory, thanked the Cuban Government "for providing the necessary conditions that have allowed this project to take shape and flourish."
"When the world celebrates the rich traditions of Havana's past, this project signals a successful future, both for tourism in Cuba and for Accor in America," he said.
Next to the Manzana Kempinski hotels, run by the Swiss company Kempinski, and Packard, managed by the Spanish company Iberostar, the Paseo del Prado will be one of the main demands of the city for the luxury tourism sector, in a time of crisis economic in which Cuba needs to attract foreign visitors.
"This new hotel shows that we are not overwhelmed by the confusion. The country is still alive, functioning and developing economically," said its first deputy minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos García, in reference to the ups and downs currently suffered by the damaged Cuban economy, affected by the crisis in its ally Venezuela and the strengthening of the United States embargo.
The administration of the US president, Donald Trump, banned cruises to Cuba since last June, whose economy depends largely on tourism as its second largest source of income.
That decision dealt a great blow to a thriving industry that had experienced a "boom" sustained in Cuba since the thaw started in 2014, growth that began to slow with the turn in Washington's policy towards the island after Trump's arrival at the White House in 2017.
The US Government It also banned private and corporate flights and restricted the conditions for US citizens to travel to the island, although commercial flights are maintained, mainly to preserve visits between family members residing in one or another country.
Although at the beginning of the year Cuba set the goal of closing 2019 with 5.1 million tourists, it was lowering its forecasts as US sanctions tightened and finally left the estimate at 4.3 million, 10% less than last year, which exceeded 4.7 million.
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