The Grand Packard Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel operated by the Spanish chain Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, was inaugurated in Havana with the assistance of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, official media on the island today.
The installation, the second in the urban hotels of the luxury brand Grand with which Cuba has, is part of a new stage in the country's tourism development, which has begun to bet on the high standard segment among its offers , according to the minister of Tourism of the island, Manuel Marrero.
He also highlighted the presence of the Iberostar hotel company since 1993 in Cuba, where he currently manages 27 hotels with 7,881 rooms, according to the digital edition of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
The opening of the Grand Packard coincides with the preparations for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Havana in 2019 and the 25th anniversary of the presence in Cuba of Iberostar, which also plans to inaugurate the first hotel in November at the Holguin tourist center (northwest). with Star Prestige category of the island.
The president of the Iberostar Group, Miguel Fluxá, affirmed that the hotel is a test of what Cuba is in terms of possibilities and efforts, while considering that the Grand Packard "is of a category that could be in London, in New York or in Paris. "
The new hotel is located on the emblematic Paseo del Prado avenue and allows from its ten floors to see a panoramic view of the Malecon that borders the Bay of Havana and the Castle of the Three Kings of the Hill.
The Grand Packard, with 321 rooms, is owned by the state hotel company Gaviota, as well as the first high standard Cuban hotel, the Kempinski Block managed by the Swiss chain Kempinski, which is located in the same area.
The building preserves part of the façade of the old Biscuit hotel, inaugurated in 1911 and which in 1931 acquired the name of Packard, in reference to a traditional American brand of automobiles that was commercialized on the island.
The boom in the tourism sector has been accompanied by a growth plan for the island's hotel plant that includes the opening of new hotels -15 of them during this year-in order to reach 100,000 rooms by 2030.
Cuba currently has some 68,000 rooms in 366 hotels – more than half operated through 88 contracts with 20 international chains.
This year the Cuban tourist authorities had announced the goal of receiving 5 million passengers, but after the decrease in arrivals so far this year readjusted the figure and equaled that of 2017, when the island hosted about 4 , 7 million visitors.
However, they have indicated that their bet for the year 2019 is to accommodate 5.1 million foreign visitors and to that end they propose to develop the modality of tourism for congresses, conventions, meetings and incentive trips.
Tourism is the second source of income of Cuba behind the sale of professional services abroad, which represents a contribution of 10% to gross domestic product (GDP) and generates half a million jobs.