Cuba to Build More Golf Courses
October 7, 2014
Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – More detailed and definitive information about plans to
build more golf courses in “socialist Cuba” reached us through the news
At the beginning of the year, the Cuban State company Grupo Palmares
(the company responsible for developing golf courses for the tourism)
and the British company Esencia Hotels and Resorts, founded The Cabonera
Golf and Country Club, Cuba’s first joint venture real estate company.
This first project involves the construction of a golf course with two
thousand real estate units, a shopping center and a hotel near Varadero,
an investment of some 350 million dollars.
The famous Matanzas tourist resort already houses the Varadero Golf
Club, an 18-hole field built before 1959 by the Dupont family.
According to the Commercial Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Jose
Reinaldo Daniel Alonso, negotiations for the creation of a second joint
venture real estate development company have already been completed.
The company will be made up of Cuba’s Palmares and the Chinese firm
Beijing Enterprises Holdings Limited, which is to make the investment.
According to Cubadebate, the golf course will be developed in
Bellamonte, to the east of Havana.
The agreements with China were signed in Havana in June this year.
The country is now preparing two similar projects towards the western
end of the island: one located in El Salado, west of Havana, and the
other in Punta Colorada, in the province of the Pinar del Rio. The two
are joint ventures with Spanish companies.
Other investments in areas such as Santa Lucia, north of the province of
Camaguey, and Covarrubias, in Las Tunas, are also being prioritized.
The information on current plans for Cienfuegos, however, afford us many
more details about the ambitious designs of Cuba’s “reformers”, who will
have less obstacles in their way now that Murillo has been appointed
Cuba’s Minister of the Economy.
According to Ministry of Tourism representative Luis Enrique Gonzalez,
plans for nine golf courses with more than 22,400 surrounding hotel
suites, are being developed in the province.
The plans, to be executed between 2018 and 2019, aims to develop two
resort destinations to the south of the province, on some 2,400
hectares, Prensa Latina reported.
Located 20 kilometers from the provincial capital, the destination,
Rancho Luna – Pasacaballos, will encompass six 18-hole courses and have
a capacity of 16,614 rooms (between hotels, apartments and villas).
The second destination will be Playa Ingles – La Tatahagua, to be
located some 60 kilometers from the provincial capital, closer to the
city of Trinidad. The construction of three golf courses and facilities
with a lodging capacity of 5,820 suites are planned there.
The project to be undertaken in this province is seeking foreign
investment from sources that have not been revealed.
Generally speaking, Cuba’s official press has offered us disjointed and
biased coverage on the progress these types of projects have been
making, such that we do not know whether the plans for Playa
Guardalavaca, in the east-laying province of Holguin, are still
underway, particularly after hearing that the water crisis in Cuba’s
east will last for several more years.
In 2011, we were informed that the Council of Ministers had approved
four initial projects in the provinces of Holguin, Pinar del Rio, La
Habana and Matanzas. The Guardalavaca project entailed an investment of
455 million dollars, and it was being pushed forward by a Canadian
To promote the creation of these real estate development joint ventures
aimed at the creation of golf courses, the country offers a 99-year or
unlimited lease of the land to potential investors as the main incentive.
The island’s tourism officials have not wasted any opportunities to sell
potential investors the idea of building golf courses in Cuba.
A press conference offered by Cuba’s First Vice-Minister for Tourism
Alexis Trujillo in 2012, before hundreds of journalists who were then
covering Pope Benedict’s visit to the island, was highly revealing.
There, Trujillo informed the press that they were “foreseeing the
construction of 13 new golf courses which are at different stages of
negotiation, as well as the assembly of several theme parks.”
At a meeting with the press held in January of this year, other tourism
spokespeople insisted on the business opportunities being offered for
the development of joint ventures aimed at the creation and operation of
hotels, real estate development for the building of golf courses,
management and marketing contracts and franchises abroad.
On this occasion, Daniel Alonso stressed MINTUR’s willingness to assess
foreign investment interests in areas that show potential and have yet
to be developed.
Though these initiatives are being executed now, they were conceived as
early as 2011, as part of the Comprehensive Services Export Strategy
(EIES) which regarded tourism as one of the country’s potentially
exportable services, despite the fact the sector had reached a plateau
and has not yet managed to recover.
The EIES seeks to market comprehensive packages or solutions, promoting
service mechanisms through which customers with high purchasing power
can travel to Cuba and receive full services packages (and thus increase
profits for the country).
Cuba currently operates two other 18-hole courses in addition to the one
in Varadero: the Capdevila and the Habana Golf Club, both of them
located in the capital. This quantity, however, is not enough.
From the perspective of securing quick and significant profits, greater
infrastructure is needed. Hence plans for the building of marinas, golf
courses and the real estate associated to these (despite the fact that
these projects do not help the country become self-sufficient).
None of the information published thus far gives any account of the
decision-making processes with respect to the plans the government has
for these vast expanses of land, nor about how the profits to be derived
from these are to be handled.
Source: Cuba to Build More Golf Courses – Havana Times.org –