Latest News (new hotels and services, changes, etc.)
• 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 December 1, 2017.
• 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 will be the second all-inclusive hotel to open on Cayo Las Brujas (a small island next to Cayo Santa Maria). It will include 660 rooms, and its opening is now scheduled for the late 2017.
• 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 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.
• 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