There are few destinations where major hotel chains like Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide have yet to make their presence felt.
But Cuba is one of them.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the two companies are working to complete deals that would allow them to begin doing business in the Caribbean island nation, with both applying to the U.S. and Cuban governments for permission to invest there.
What’s more, Marriott recently confirmed that CEO Arne Sorenson will be joining President Barack Obama on his historic visit to Cuba later this month.
“We are optimistic that we are going to get a green light soon from the U.S. government to have hotels under the Marriott flag in Cuba,” a Marriott spokesman told USA Today.
Meanwhile, a Starwood spokeswoman confirmed to the publication that the company “has applied for authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department to operate hotels in Cuba.”
“We see many opportunities for the expansion of our brands into Cuba at this inflection point, and look forward to building long-term relationships and welcoming travelers into our hotels in this dynamic market,” she added.
In a blog post written last summer, Sorenson explained the benefits of allowing U.S. hotel companies to invest in Cuba:
“By engaging in business in Cuba, we will contribute to stronger and increasingly constructive relationships between Cuba and the U.S. as a result of two very basic things: first, our hotels will employ hundreds, if not thousands, of Cubans and, in doing so, bring career and cultural opportunities to them and their families in a manner that will reflect well on the U.S.; second, we will be able to welcome tens of thousands of American visitors to Cuba who will eventually return home with memories, friendships and opportunities that draw us together.”
Sorenson is scheduled to visit Cuba from March 20-22.
A week later, Marriott and Starwood will hold shareholder votes on their pending merger, which is expected to close in mid-2016.