Iberostar: The most award-winning hotel chain in Cuba


By Daily Pérez Guillén

Spanish chain IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts Cuba has distinguished itself as a quality brand in the Caribbean archipelago for three decades. The 2024 Travellers’ Choice awards confirm this with twelve new awards, five of them in the Best of the Best category, and with the best judges—travelers themselves.

“Iberostar Cuba is changing its color palette, its branding and remains committed to continued growth on the island, with quality values that differentiate us from the rest and win awards. We do not work for awards, but they help us to promote our efforts,” Marketing Director Alexeis Torres Velázquez stated from a meeting room with a view of daily life along Havana’s Malecón.

Marketing Director Iberostar, Alexeis Torres Velázquez

Iberostar manages 18 hotels in the country’s main tourist areas: Havana, Varadero, the north-central keys, Trinidad and Holguín’s coast. “We organize by regions because the classic tourist experiences different parts of Cuba. Those who have never come here before may tour Havana-Varadero; those who have been here many times do Varadero-the keys; those who are more ambitious prefer a round-trip from the capital to Santiago de Cuba. The intention, above all, is to market Cuba as a different destination. That is the thinking behind our current campaign: ‘If the beach is your thing, welcome. If the city is your thing, welcome. If the beach and the city are your things, welcome to Iberostar Cuba’.”

According to the executive, such diversity differentiates Cuba from among the competition in the Caribbean. “If our clients—Germans, French, Canadians, Argentines, Peruvians, Bolivians, Colombians—visit the Caribbean, they will find a sun-and-beach-only experience. If they visit Cuba, they will enjoy a combination.”


For Iberostar Cuba, 2024 is a reconfiguration exercise. “We have updated our color palette and as part of this rebranding, you can appreciate the tone and rhythm of Cuba. This distinguishes us from the rest of our transnational chain’s hotels worldwide.”

“We have the Grand brand, using the pink color of the marpacífico [Hibiscus], perhaps the most popular flower in Cuba, which frames our hotels of the highest standard. In our Grand hotels —the Packard and Trinidad—we have a concierge service with butlers who assist and personalize the service.”

Infinity pool, Ibeostar Grand Packard.

With a privileged position that puts the entrance to Havana’s bay with its fortresses and the Morro Castle on the horizon, the Grand Packard is a source of pride for Iberostar. “This year the Travellers’ Choice awards, which are like the Oscars of world tourism, ranked it number two among luxury hotels and number five among the best in the world.”

Torres Velazquez claims this success is due to the friendliness of the Cuban people, “who make guests feel they are experiencing great luxury but at the same time appreciating Cuba,” as well as the national traditions, especially the local cuisine, which was noted in this recognition.

Lobby, Grand Packard

However, the Packard is much more than this. It is an installation that seeks to recall the bohemian air of its origins and the relationship with the US brand. “We were there before the construction began, we were part of making it look more like Havana, cosmopolitan and modern. You walk through its doors and you are in a luxury hotel with an infinity pool on its 6th floor. It plays with local cuisine through a tapas restaurant with references to Spanish gastronomy. It also has a variety of room categories with one of the best views in Havana. The hotel also boasts one of the capital’s largest rooms, with capacity for up to 300 people. We are thinking of a somewhat forgotten segment, which is the MICE and conventions segment, and also the business or corporate segments.”

In the case of the Grand Trinidad, a facility that stands as a luxury hotel in the third villa founded in Cuba, Torres Velazquez highlights its Earthcheck certification. “We undertake extensive sustainability work but it is not enough to do it right, you also have to categorize it. Earthcheck is a company that specializes in performing that audit and then awards prizes.”

Lobby Iberostar Grand Trinidad. Photo: DPG/TTC

Iberostar has also strived to make tourists see another Cuba, beyond the destinations located in the western and central regions of the country. “There is a Cuba to be discovered in Santiago de Cuba, in Jibara, in Holguín, and that is where we went with all the sacrifice of creating a hotel just an hour away from the Frank País Airport.” That explains the joy that comes from the Best of the Best award for the Coral Selection Holguín, ranked 13th in the Caribbean.

“In terms of circuit tourism, especially for Germans who like to see many things in a single vacation, are very adventurous and for whom it is not enough to go to a single destination, Holguín has meant creating a high-standard hotel in that area of the country. There we are located in the estuary of a river, and the hotel offers the mix of the beach nearby and also nature, where guests can enjoy the entertainment.”

Iberostar Selection Holguín

The Selection brand follows the blue color scheme of Havana’s Malecon. These family hotels are characterized by their fourteen different entertainment programs for families and for having a hotel within a hotel. In this case, the Coral hotels, which are distinguished by the green color of the catey [Cuban parakeet]. “We believe that Cuban fauna must be recognized, defended and protected,” the executive emphasized.

“We have focused on what is known as multiple intelligence. For example, we want children, once they are on vacation, to also learn different types of activities in the mini-clubs with an entertainment team that is certified, has qualifications and language skills. The children learn to value the environment, to cook, they meet children from other countries—Germans, French, Spanish, Canadians. Don’t ask us how they communicate, but it seems that childhood is a universal language.”


Iberostar launched a sustainability strategy five years ago and it has become part of its DNA. “Several objectives have already been fulfilled. The first is that we have managed to eliminate single-use plastic from all our rooms. We are not aware of just how much plastic we pour into the ocean in a 14-day vacation: the single-portion packaging, the toiletries, or the classic plastic water bottles in the room. We have made a million-dollar investment in every sense. The first is in the mentality of suppliers, tour operators and clients,” the marketing director explained.

Each hotel of the Spanish chain in Cuba has its own purification plant and that objective has resulted in joint efforts with suppliers. “Suchel Proquimia S.A. had to change the production line for toiletries in order to change the dispensers. And that fills us with pride because later other hotel chains began to use them.”

Together with Pernod Ricard, the chain is developing a pioneering project worldwide: the Ecototem, a dispenser that will eliminate the use of glass bottles for drinks, in this case Havana Club rums.

Iberostar is moving toward 2030 in an attempt to leave a carbon-neutral footprint, as the Sustainable Development Goals are setting standards for consumers. “Our baby boomer guests, especially the Canadians, are getting older and we have to recover the millennial guest and today Generation Z. These young customers saw just what the COVID-19 pause meant for planet Earth. It is also in their DNA to choose a destination or a hotel that offers sustainability. We have always worked on this aspect, but it is also becoming a kind of sales lever.”

Following these goals, the awards accumulated in the first half of the year rank this hotel chain as Cuba’s best, and seem to be just the beginning of more successes in 2024 for IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts Cuba.