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Starwood Hotels first in taking over Cuba - and why Chinese hospitality investors love it

Why China loves President Obama for opening up Cuba to US tourists

Mar 21, 2016

Having the Starwood CEO on AirForce one most likely secured a deal President Obama did not really think about. China's Anbang Insurance Group Company made a $13 billion cash offer for Starwood Hotels and Reorts on Friday, surpassing by nearly 15 percent a previous cash and stock offer by Marriott International Inc. Marriott has until March 28 to make a counter-offer.

Is China trying to take over the US hospitality industry?

When President Obama touched down in Cuba earlier today, tourism opportunity in this communist country was exploding.

Still an American company now, the CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts on board Airforce One, has big plans for Cuba and American tourists enjoying a beach vacation in the communist Caribbean country.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide on Saturday became the first US hotel company to sign a deal with Cuba since the 1959 revolution, announcing a multimillion-dollar investment a day before US President Barack Obama was due to visit Havana.

Starwood will manage and market two properties in Havana and signed a letter of intent to operate a third resort,

The deals included a "multimillion-dollar investment to bring the hotels up to our standards," making Starwood the first US company to commit major money to Cuba since Fidel Castro and his bearded rebels overthrew a pro-American government on January 1, 1959.

International visitors to Cuba rose 17 per cent to a record 3.5 million in 2015, including a 77 per cent increase in American visitors to 161,000. Cuba expects a similar increase in American visitors this year when scheduled airline service will resume despite a continued ban on tourism.

Americans are allowed to travel to Cuba for 12 authoriaed purposes.

Obama relaxed restrictions further this week. Americans no longer need special permission to travel, or use guides, but must self-police their activities and keep records for five years. The Republican party is a major stumbling block to stop even faster expansion in wanting to keep the embargo going.

Starwood along with Marriott and other hotel operators may plan to invest enormously to make it difficult even for a possible Republican leadership to say no to lifting the 53 year old embargo.

Starwood will operate the military-owned Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel under its Four Points Sheraton brand, and the state-owned Gran Caribe Inglaterra Hotel under its Luxury Collection brand.

But Starwood, which is subject to a takeover battle, may not be an American company for much longer but could become a major player for American tourists to spend money in Cuba.

Why China loves President Obama for opening up Cuba to US tourists

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