After a hurricane, mysterious attacks, and U.S. warnings, travelers return to Cuba – Repeating Islands
More hotels coming on line also have begun to ease the capacity crunch. Cuba recently opened its second five-star hotel, the Grand Packard. The hotel with panoramic views of Havana’s Malecón is managed by the Spanish company Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, for Gaviota, a Cuban tourism brand that is part of the military-controlled conglomerate GAESA.
But while bookings for group tours are picking up, Cubans who rent out rooms in their homes and operate other small private businesses say they’re still hurting from a dearth of individual American travelers who often choose to stay in casas particulares (bed and breakfasts) to get a more authentic Cuban experience.
“American travelers were really helping build that part of the economy and were supporting it,” Laverty said. Many private Cuban entrepreneurs made investments in their properties and businesses with the assumption that American travel would continue to grow. “Now we’re seeing a lot of those investments without returns,” he said.
Recent travelers say private clubs and restaurants are still relatively empty and some private rooms in Centro Habana that once rented for $25 to $30 a night have reduced prices to around $15 in an effort to lure in more travelers.