Starwood first U.S. company to sign landmark deal for hotels in Havana

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has become the first American hotel company to enter the Cuba market for more than half a century.

The chain has signed deals to manage two prestigious hotels in Havana and signed a letter of intent to operate a third.

Starwood received special permission to proceed with the deal from the U.S. Treasury Department, since a deal such as this is still not normally allowed under the U.S. trade embargo.

The deal was announced the day before U.S. President Barack Obama made his historic visit to Cuba on March 20. President Obama opposes the 54-year-old embargo, which the U.S. congress must repeal.

According to the Washington Post, the deals include the Hotel Inglaterra, a Havana icon owned by the state, which will become part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, and the military-owned Hotel Quinta Avenida, which will become a Four Points by Sheraton hotel. Both will undergo renovations before opening under their new brands later this year.

Pending license approval from the Treasury Department, Starwood will also convert the Hotel Santa Isabel into a part of its Luxury Collection.