Iberostar’s Cuba Flexes Muscles after Challenging Winter
By CARIBBEAN NEWS
It was a perfect storm and it seemed to happen almost overnight: U.S. tour operators were suddenly clamoring for Cuba resort rooms and Iberostar had to make a choice.
“For 25 years Canada has been an important partner so we did not want to give all of our Canadian-owned rooms to U.S. tour operators. We chose to prioritize our loyal partners and we were right,” says Iberostar’s Chief Operating Officer, Aurelio Vazquez.
Two years after that sudden surge in U.S. demand, it’s back to square one as Americans once again grapple with travel restrictions to the popular Caribbean island. But few companies welcoming guests to their Cuba resorts have time to worry about the lack of U.S. vacationers – because the markets from Canada and abroad are so strong, and growing.
Says Vazquez: “We have noticed an increase in demand from Europeans and especially from the English. So we also need more rooms to deal with them.”
The Spanish hotel chain is growing in popularity and also expanding its resort portfolio. After announcing the redesign of its brands and its logo, the group’s management team talked about their upcoming ambitions for Cuba, including new properties that will open this November.
“The Caribbean region is key to Iberostar, specifically the markets of Mexico and Cuba,” says Vazquez. “Iberostar has a historic commitment with Cuba for 25 years, which has led us to strengthen our presence on the island: 20 new hotels in 25 years, or 7,100 rooms. In addition, in the first five months of 2018, Iberostar in Cuba has grown 8% year-over-year and we plan to add 12,000 rooms by 2020.”
Luis Jiménez, Sales and Marketing Director, Cuba, adds: “It was a difficult winter because of Hurricane Irma but all the hotels were quickly renovated. With the steady increase in direct flights from Canada, the Canadian market is the most important market for our hotels in Cuba.
“We believe there is still potential in Cuba, which is why we want to open more hotels. Cuba is an incredible destination with 1,200 kilometers of beaches and many assets for tourists, without forgetting its unique culture. It is also one of the safest destinations in the world and tourists are looking for peace during their holidays.”