Kempinski Havana

Slowly taking shape alongside Parque Central in the heart of Old Havana, the new Kempinski Havana is set to be Cuba’s most luxurious hotel when it finally opens.

The building in which the new hotel will be housed, the Manzana de Gomez, was originally built over a protracted 20 year period with final completion in 1918. The brainchild of Jose Gomez Mena Vila, the Manzana (as it is usually abbreviated to) covers an entire block and was originally designed to house offices with an arcade of shops on the ground floor.

As is all too common in Cuba, progress on the new Kempinski Havana hotel has taken longer than expected although, on my last trip in June (when the photo at the top was taken), work was very much in evidence. The hotel is now set to open at the end of 2016 so we expect that to mean Easter 2017 at the earliest.

For those not in the know, all hotels in Cuba are owned by local, state-owned tourist enterprises with many then being managed by international companies on fixed-term contracts. The vast majority of these international companies are Spanish – Melia & Iberostar are particularly prominent in Cuba – with the Kempinski Havana being the Swiss company’s first foray into Cuba.

There is no clear word yet on exactly how many rooms there will be – probably around the 240 mark – or details on facilities, bars, restaurants etc although two things are clear.

1 Prices at the new Kempinski Havana will be set at eye-watering / mojito-requiring levels. We have no inside line on these rates but would not be at all surprised to see high season (November through April) rates hitting £400 a night.

2 Despite these expected sky-high rates, we expect the hotel to pretty much run at 100% occupancy from the off. Such is the massive shortage of accommodation in Havana, especially in Old Havana, not to mention the lack of top-end options, that 240 odd rooms will be very easy to fill.

While the Kempinski won’t have any problem filling its rooms at top end prices, it may (at least until the US market finally opens up) put a bit of downward price-pressure on the current two top hotels in Old Havana, the Iberostar Parque Central and Saratoga, both of which are a stone’s throw from the Kempinski Havana.

The Kempinski Manzana de Gomez hotel in Havana, Cuba

Artists impression

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