DailyMail - Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide became the first US hotel company to sign a deal with Cuba since 1959 . The company will manage, renovate and rebrand the Quinta Avenida, Santa Isabel and Inglaterra hotels. The deal comes on the eve of President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba, which will open a new era between the former Cold War foes that has American travelers and businesses eagerly eyeing opportunities on the island nation 90 miles south of Florida.
Starwood's chief of Latin America operations, Jorge Giannattasio, said the company will invest millions to renovate and rebrand the Quinta Avenida, Santa Isabel and Inglaterra hotels, train and hire new staff and reopen the hotels by the end of the year.
International companies complain that their inability to directly hire Cuban employees, and if necessary demote or fire underperforming staff, hinders their ability to provide satisfactory customer service.
On the 15th of March, the Obama administration removed the last meaningful restrictions on travel to Cuba, announcing that it would allow individuals to visit the island for 'people to people' educational trips. While the ban on U.S. tourism technically remains in place, it becomes an honor system that is essentially unenforceable. The Obama administration previously loosened requirements by allowing organized trips without advance U.S. permission and independent travel for specific purposes like religious activities or sports events.