Latest News (new hotels and services, changes, etc.)
• (June 1, 2018) Hotel Lagunas del Este I (ex. Warwick) will now be managed by the Labranda Hotel Group, and is renamed Labranda Cayo Santa Maria. Labranda Hotels & Resort is owned by FTI, Germany’s fourth-largest tour operator.
• (November 11, 2017) Hotel Warwick Cayo Santa Maria will no longer be managed by the Warwick Hotel Group. For the time being, the hotel will be renamed Lagunas del Este I (its original construction name), the Cuban group Gaviota (owner of the hotel) will run it until a new management contract is granted, there are already ongoing conversations with other foreign chains.
• From February 2017, the Hotel Cayo Santa Maria (formerly Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria) is now managed by Golden Tulip, part of Louvre Hotels Group, and becomes the Golden Tulip Aguas Claras.
• The construction project called "San Agustin" (on Cayo Las Brujas) will become the hotel Angsana Cayo Santa Maria, managed by the hotel group Banyan Tree. This luxury 252-rooms all-inclusive resort is scheduled to open in 2018.
• The Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria is now open (January 2017). This hotel is located on Cayo Las Brujas (a small island next to Cayo Santa Maria). It includes 516 rooms and is managed by Dhawa, a division of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resort. It's the first Asian hotel chain to open a property in Cuba.
• The Sercotel Experience Cayo Santa Maria is now open (March 2018) on Cayo Las Brujas (a small island next to Cayo Santa Maria).
• 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).
• 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).
• The hotel Paradisus Los Cayos is 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 with 802 rooms. Opening is scheduled for December 2018.
• 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 1, 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 the dual currency system, unique in the world. The Cuban peso (CUP) would become the official currency and the convertible peso (CUC) would be phased out. No official timetable has been announced, although Raul Castro is firmly committed to implementing this economic project as soon as possible. More information to come.
Lily & Normand