Havana, Mar 17 (EFE).- A huge new luxury hotel operated by Indonesia’s Archipelago International company opened its doors on Thursday in Havana at a difficult time for the communist island’s tourism sector.
The Grand Aston La Habana, with 600 rooms and facing on the Malecon, the Cuban capital’s iconic seaside boulevard, is located within the El Vedado neighborhood, the hotel group said on its Web site.
The facilities, with Southeast Asian touches, include a huge swimming pool, spa and an assortment of bars and restaurants, some of them on the 25th floor with a great view of the city.
As is the norm in Cuba, the state owns the hotel, but it is managed by Archipelago International.
The hotel group, the largest in Southeast Asia, is in the middle of an aggressive expansion of its operations in the Caribbean. In Cuba, the firm already manages three hotels and this year intends to open two more besides the Grand Aston La Habana, including one in Varadero.
The company has some 200 properties and projects with more than 30,000 rooms in all, according to its own figures.
The Cuban tourism sector, like the global industry, is going through a difficult time because of the coronavirus pandemic, not to mention the serious effects of the island’s economic crisis.
Cuba last year welcomed 573,944 international visitors, 60 percent fewer than in 2020, according to the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI).
Despite the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the war in Ukraine – which has caused the Russian tourist flow to Cuba to plummet in March – the Economy and Planning Ministry estimates that this year the island will attain its objective of welcoming 2.5 million international visitors.
The tourism sector is the second-largest contributor to Cuba’s GDP and the No. 2 economic sector in terms of bringing in foreign currency.