Yesterday, St Giles Hotels announced its expansion into Cuba, positioning the company as the first UK-based hotel brand to enter the Cuban hotel market.
Gran Caribe, one of Cuba’s leading hotel groups, accepted St Giles’ bid to renovate and manage the Hotel Deauville, located in the heart of Havana. Abigail Tan-Giroud, St Giles Hotels Head of UK, Europe, and The Americas, is handling the negotiations of this deal, with advisory from Geskaria Real Estate Investments.
Currently operating as a three-star hotel, the property will reopen at a later date as The Deauville – A St Giles Signature Hotel, and be added to the brand’s highest hotel classification. The property is located on the Malecón, Cuba’s famous seaside promenade, overlooking Havana Bay and offers a centrally located base to explore both Old Havana and the Vedado district.
Another hotel, the Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana, will be Cuba’s first five-star hotel (on the European rating system) when construction is completed later this year.
Below is an interview the Cuba Journal conducted with Abigail Tan-Giroud about the project.
What does it mean to be the first UK brand to enter Cuba?
It is a great honour that the trust and responsibility have been given to us, and a validation that little brands can also do big things and pave some of the way forward. There is also immense pressure to ensure that we live up to the expectations of us, and make our counterparts proud.
How did the deal come about?
We began the search process with a trip to Havana in February 2016, meeting with key personnel within the ministry of tourism and the respective hotel-owner companies, to find out about which properties were available for bidding and which projects were potentially available for us to get involved in. Through that, we submitted a few proposals, and The Deauville was always the one that we loved, and throughout the following months continued to pursue the relevant parties to progress on the potential deal.
Why does your brand work well with Cuba?
Our brand works well in Cuba because it is not confined to one culture or identity. We believe in the richness of local heritage and culture, and tailor our branded experiences and hotel identity through the understanding of that culture. Cuba is so incredibly rich in experience and culture, and the brand ensures that we remember to ‘Be Central’ in Havana.
What’s your view on the potential for Cuba tourism?
There is already a major influx of tourism into the country, and everything remaining equal, this will only increase. Cuba has the rich culture, the resources – the beaches, the people, agriculture – and all this will drive the ability for the country to continuously sustain itself to a high level. The availability of cities versus the best beaches in the Caribbean make Cuba a unique destination in the region.
About St Giles Hotels
With nine hotels currently across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, the St Giles family of hotels invites business and leisure travelers to experience the most central locations in the hearts of major cities around the world. St Giles is uniquely positioned to provide the attentive service and charm of independently managed hotels, with the signature St Giles Experience of warm, authentic and locally-rooted hospitality. St Giles Hotels recognizes that every guests has individual needs and style, which is why the group’s portfolio spans three levels of service: Three Star, Four Star and Signature. The Group continues to grow its family of hotels, and has added several properties including its 10th property, the newly announced The Deauville – A St Giles Signature Hotel in Havana and previously opened two four star hotels: The Wembley – a St Giles Hotel in Penang, and The Tank Stream – a St Giles Hotel in Sydney