Latest News (new hotels and services, changes, etc.)
• The inauguration of the new hotel Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria is scheduled for December 15, 2016. It's located on Cayo Las Brujas (next to Cayo Santa Maria). The hotel will have 516 rooms and will be managed by Dhawa, a division of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resort. It's the first Asian hotel chain to open a property in Cuba.
• Since November 2016, the Hotel STARFISH CAYO SANTA MARIA is now divided into two sections sold separately, one of them keeps the name Starfish Cayo Santa Maria (sold in Canada by tour operator Sunwing Vacations) and the other one is named Starfish Tropical Santa Maria (sold in Canada by tour operator Air Canada vacations).
• From January 2017, the large Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort will be divided into three hotels, the Paraiso section will be sold as the Memories Paraiso Beach Resort (666 rooms), the Azul section will be divided in two and will become the Grand Memories Santa Maria (354 rooms) and the Sanctuary at Grand Memories Santa Maria (378 rooms, adult-only).
• The hotel "Paradisus Cayo Santa Maria" is currently (2016) under construction on Playa Perla Blanca, between hotels Ocean Casa del Mar by H10 and the Valentin Perla Blanca. The construction name is: Laguna del Este V. It will be a 5-star hotel of 804 rooms. The opening scheduled is for 2018.
• A new tourist center called Pueblo Las Terrazas is currently under construction in the Lagunas del Este area see location here, just beside Hotel Ocean Casa del Mar by H10. This little commercial center should offer: a Beach club, an Habano house & club (rum and cigars), a Cuban restaurant, a bowling and party saloon, shops, a Spa and a weddings chapel. Click here to see photos (took during the construction).
• Five new hotels are currently being built on Cayo Las Brujas (small neighboring island of Cayo Santa Maria). One of them will be the Sercotel Experience Cayo Santa Maria scheduled to open at the end of February 2017. Another one will be the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria (managed by Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts).
•The hotel Ocean Casa del Mar (800 rooms, construction name Laguna del Este II) opened its doors in February 2016.
•The hotel Warwick Cayo Santa Maria (800 rooms, construction name Laguna del Este I) opened its doors in August 2015.
• The hotel chain Eurostars left Cuba during the summer 2015. The hotel Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria was renamed Hotel Cayo Santa Maria and is currently managed by Gaviota.
• Other future projects in the area include a golf course, two marinas and a water park. These projects have not started yet.
Click the following link for a detailed chronology of tourism development in the Cayos de Villa Clara (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos, Cayo Las Brujas); from 1989 until today.
Note that since the spring 2014, Cuban Immigration systematically stamps all passports when entering and leaving the country. And also: Since May 1st, 2015, the Cuban Departure Tax is no longer paid at destination. It should now be included in the price of your trip when buying a flight-only or vacation-package to Cuba.
In October 2013 the Cuban Government announced its intention to eliminate their dual currency system (CUC and CUP). To the best of our knowledge, it seems like no schedule has been officially announced yet for this plan to eliminate the CUC and revalue the CUP; and so far (2016) there's no indication yet about when the CUC will be put out of circulation.
Visit our website that chronicles the announcements and events related to the Cuban Thaw (warming of USA-Cuba relations) which started in late 2014.
Lily & Normand