has more than sixty years of history and still maintains its prestige as the “flagship” of the Gran Caribe Group. Breaking Travel News caught up with Jorge Salazar, Director of Sales & Marketing, Gran Caribe Hotels, Cuba at ITB Berlin to find out how this hotel has made such an impression in this leading destination.
BTN: How have you managed to maintain the properties ‘newness’ over the years?
JS: The property was built in 1929. We are always investing to maintain the standards. The hotel was refurbished in the late 50’s, when all the comforts that make it competitive were added without altering the original layout. In 1992 it went through a general restoration preserving all the splendor of its eclectic architecture as a result of a mixture of Art Deco features with modern influences of that time.
BTN: Who are your target clientele?
JS: We cater for both business and leisure travellers. Customers can buy packages through tour operators. We offer a lot of incentives. Every Thursday, The National is the home-base of the Buena Vista social club. We have the Buena Vista social club going in to the National.
BTN: What facilities do you offer business travellers and do you find there is a high demand for internet services?
JS: The hotel has conference facilities to accommodate different types of meetings.
We offer internet facilities on the executive floor and in selected rooms.
In all of 48 our properties you can find an Internet café or Internet access all over Cuba. You can imagine that there is a need especially at the National to offer this service. Many people are surprised to find these online services which they find in the hotels.
BTN: Cuba is becoming an international hotspot for tourism. How have you maintained your leading edge over the competition?
JS: The hotel National of Cuba is a landmark of Cuba. It is a brand name and it attracts the attention of visitors from all over the world. People coming from Havana will always prefer to stay at the National.
Over the years we have attracted a large number of personalities from the arts, science and politcs, such as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, artists Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Johnny Weismuller, Maria Félix, Jorge Negrete, and scientist Alexander Flemming.accommodate head of State, President, prime ministers, famous actors and actresses. There is a Hall of Fame of the National with images of everyone visiting The National from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, right through until now.
BTN: What has winning a World Travel Award meant to you?
JS: Being recognised as one of the leading hotels in the world because of the hotel’s structure, its facilities and its charm represents a lot for us and we are very proud.
BTN: What is the main selling point of the property?
JS: The structure itself is like a castle. It has a beautiful garden overlooking Havana seaside and there is a wonderful view of the city. The services and all the facilities makes the property really attractive.