HAVANA - A vacation in Havana is not the bargain that some American tourists were hoping for with the new availability of economy flights to the island. Along with the high demand for hotel rooms comes the shortage and the high prices.
The Gran Hotel Kempinski Manzana La Habana features 246 rooms at the historic Manzana de Gómez building in the heart of Old Havana. The state-run hospitality industry expects these to be some of the most luxurious the island has ever seen.
Down the historic Paseo del Prado, which divides Centro Habana with Old Havana, there are three other hotels coming up. One will be along the seaside boulevard known as the Malecón and will have views of the coast.
Although the Cuban government is partnering with foreign companies, tourists are still facing issues of room availability, a lack of luxury amenities and scarce hospitality training. The challenge comes with a rise in prices, and European and Canadian regulars say they are taking notice.
Ian Cochran said he has traveled to Havana from London three times. The British tourist said he was paying about $290 per night at the hotel where he was staying. But he added that about a decade ago the prices were much cheaper.
"Probably they're taking advantage," Cochran said.
Danny Coutu and Chantal Bourgault said they have been priced out of hotels and have turned to a "Casa Particular," private home stays that are similar to a bed and breakfast service. The Cuban government has allowed the business model since 1997.
The Canadian couple said they are spending about $70 per night for a room with a private bathroom, but they consider it expensive due to the standards. And they said they won't be coming back.
"The demand is very high and that's why the price bumped up," Coutu said.
While services such as AirBnB and TripAdvisor continue to thrive on the island, the Cuban government was moving forward with their plans to double the island’s hotel capacity by 2020.
A recent survey of 6 hotels in Havana:
The Saratoga Havana: $506
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba: $338
The Hotel Tryp Habana Libre: $320
The Hotel Presidente: $225
The BelleVue Deauville Hotel: $124 (includes breakfast)
The Hotel Vedado: $70
Local 10 News' Andrea Torres contributed to this story.
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