The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski la Havana, the latest addition to the Kempinski Hotels chain, began receiving guests this week in Havana. The hotel heralds a new era in Havana lodging for international guests, with new high-end luxury accommodations previously unavailable in the Cuban capital city. The official grand opening will take place on June 7.
The 246-room hotel—50 of them suites—is located in the old Manzana de Gomez building on the Parque Central, which sits in front of the Havana Opera house and is just diagonally across from the Capitolio, the replica of the U.S. Capitol. The Manzana de Gomez was a prime retail shop and office location prior to the 1959 revolution, but it had been slowly decaying over the last 58 years.
The Kempinski chain reached agreement with Gaviota, the large, government-owned hotel company that is overseen by the Cuban military. Among other concessions, the Cubans allowed Kempinski to bring workers from abroad to finish the project, the first time that has been allowed in Cuba. But, according to the hotel's general manager Xavier Destribats, Gaviota officials wanted the hotel to be the best and most luxurious in Havana.
"We are very excited. This is a wonderful way for Kempinski to enter the Americas. This is a beautiful city with a real European flair," says Destribats.
The hotel has two restaurants and four bars, including one that overlooks La Floridita from the hotel's second floor and specializes in margaritas. There is also a bar and restaurant on the sixth floor as well as a rooftop swimming pool with a view of the National Capitol Building. The shopping arcade includes stores such as Montblanc, L'Occitaine and a Cohiba Atmosphere, the most exclusive of the Cuban cigar outlets.
The hotel's website quotes room rates from $344 a night for a standard room and up to $1,300 for the suites. But those are low-season rates, according to Destribats. For Christmas week, the rooms are ranging from $660 for a standard room and $2,800 for the presidential suite.
[Updated on May 25 with additional hotel information.]