Starwood Expanding To Cuba

Starwood announced this past weekend that they will be expanding to Cuba in 2016!  They are the first US hotel chain given permission by the US Treasury to operate in Cuba.  As travel to Cuba becomes easier, now you can book hotels with points!

Expansion To Cuba

The press release states that the historic Hotel Inglaterra will join The Luxury Collection and Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. 

https://i1.wp.com/www.hotelinglaterracuba.com/images/hotel-inglaterra-front-view.jpg?resize=520%2C390
The historic Hotel Inglaterra, Havana
Quinta Avenida Hotel
Hotel Quinta Avenida

After renovations are completed, they will be opened later this year.  They also have a letter of intent from the Hotel Santa Isabel to become a member of The Luxury Collection.

Hotel Santa Isabel Havana
Hotel Santa Isabel

Thomas B. Mangas, Starwood’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Starwood’s history of creativity, innovation, sustainability and being a first mover is core to who we are and what has made us a formidable competitor in the industry with a long, global lead. I am proud of our team who worked tirelessly to make today possible. 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.”

Kenneth S. Siegel, Starwood’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, added: “We are confident Starwood is the right partner to help write the next chapter of relations between Cuba and American business, and we moved quickly and enthusiastically to pursue opportunities following recent government actions. As we’ve seen throughout the world, our entry into new markets has a positive effect on local communities, preserving and protecting the culture and delicate ecosystems while improving employment opportunities, which were driving forces in our discussions.”

Earning Starpoints

With the increased signup bonuses on the personal and business American Express Starwood Preferred Guest cards, there has never been a better time to apply.  The 35,000 point signup bonus is a historic high!

amex_spg_35kAmerican Express Starwood Preferred Guest (personal):  35,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business:  35,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

You are now limited to one signup bonus per lifetime on each American Express card, business and personal, BUT you can still earn up to 55,000 Starpoints per year by sending referrals!  You earn 5,000 Starpoints for each referral you send that is approved for the card.  If you have both the personal and business cards, this adds up to a maximum of 110,000 points per year!

spg_referral

Use THIS LINK to send referrals.

What About The Marriott Purchase Of Starwood?

Marriott and Anbang are still in a bidding war to purchase Starwood, but at this point, it looks like Marriott is in this to win it.  It is also clear that Starwood would prefer to sell to Marriott.  The downfall is that Marriott points are worth much less than Starpoints, and at some point, the programs will merge.  Even though I believe this to be true, I also believe that it is going to take quite a bit of time for them to figure out how to merge programs because of all the differences.  In other words, you still have plenty of time to earn and use Starpoints until then.

The Bottom Line

Starwood is the first US hotel chain to be granted permission to operate in Cuba, and they have 2 confirmed hotels and a third with a letter of intent.  As travel to Cuba becomes easier, so will booking hotels with points!