Last updated: 04:46 PM ET, Mon March 21 2016

Starwood Becomes First US Hospitality Company to Enter Cuba

Hotel & Resort | Starwood Hotels and Resorts | Patrick Clarke | March 21, 2016

Starwood Becomes First US Hospitality Company to Enter Cuba

Photo by David Cogswell

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced historic expansion into Cuba, with the company signing a trio of hotel deals in the Caribbean island nation.

Havana's Hotel Inglaterra is poised to join Starwood's Luxury Collection and the five-star Hotel Quinta Avenida will transition to a Four Points by Sheraton property. Following renovations the two hotels are expected to reopen under their respective new brands later this year.

Lastly, Starwood said it has inked a Letter of Intent to convert Havana's Hotel Santa Isabel into a Luxury Collection member. However that signing still awaits approval from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Nonetheless the signings mean that Starwood is the first U.S. based hospitality company to enter the Cuban market in nearly six decades.

Prior to the signings, Starwood also became the first U.S. hospitality company to receive approval to operate in Cuba from the U.S. Treasury Department. 

READ MORE: Could A Chinese Takeover Bid Derail The Starwood Marriott Merger?

"With Cuba’s rich history, natural beauty and strong culture, there is no question the entire U.S. hospitality industry has watched Cuba with great interest, and we are thrilled to lead the charge and bring our sophisticated, high-end brands into the market at this inflection point," Starwood CEO Thomas Mangas said in a statement.

On the heels of Starwood's announcement, Marriott International also confirmed that it has received permission from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to pursue a business transaction in Cuba.

READ MORE: US Treasury Approves Marriott International Hotel Negotiations With Cuba

The Bethesda, Maryland-based company is currently in discussions to enter the Cuban market.

"While there is still work to do before any agreement is reached, we are actively pursuing relationships in the hospitality sector," Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement.

The two U.S. hotel giants are on schedule to complete a merger in mid-2016.

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