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Cuban Hotel Becomes First Operated by US Company

Sometimes slapping a Four Points by Sheraton sign on the side of a building can be a historic event. That's what happened in Havana this week, as the Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel began undergoing a Sheraton rebranding, making it the first hotel in Cuba to operate under a US company since Fidel Castro siezed control of the island nation in 1959. Owned by the military, the hotel is one of two that will be managed by Connecticut-based Starwood Resorts & Hotels Worldwide—the sort of deal that was banned for decades under the US economic embargo of the Communist-led country.

Though the embargo remains in place at the moment—and the Republican leadership in Congress intends to keep it that way—the Obama administration has eased restrictions on travel and investment considerably. Partly as a result, Cuba has seen a tourism boost that's expected to swell further if the US lifts its travel ban entirely.