Cuba to Build More Golf Courses

Isbel Diaz Torres

Golf course in Varadero.

HAVANA TIMES – More detailed and definitive information about plans to build more golf courses in “socialist Cuba” reached us through the news this September.

At the beginning of the year, the Cuban State company Grupo Palmares (the company responsible for developing golf courses for the tourism) and the British company Esencia Hotels and Resorts, founded The Cabonera Golf and Country Club, Cuba’s first joint venture real estate company.

This first project involves the construction of a golf course with two thousand real estate units, a shopping center and a hotel near Varadero, an investment of some 350 million dollars.

The famous Matanzas tourist resort already houses the Varadero Golf Club, an 18-hole field built before 1959 by the Dupont family.

According to the Commercial Director of the Ministry of Tourism, Jose Reinaldo Daniel Alonso, negotiations for the creation of a second joint venture real estate development company have already been completed.

The company will be made up of Cuba’s Palmares and the Chinese firm Beijing Enterprises Holdings Limited, which is to make the investment. According to Cubadebate, the golf course will be developed in Bellamonte, to the east of Havana.

Campo-Golf-Varadero-2014-2--Jimmy-Roque-MartinezThe agreements with China were signed in Havana in June this year.

The country is now preparing two similar projects towards the western end of the island: one located in El Salado, west of Havana, and the other in Punta Colorada, in the province of the Pinar del Rio. The two are joint ventures with Spanish companies.

Other investments in areas such as Santa Lucia, north of the province of Camaguey, and Covarrubias, in Las Tunas, are also being prioritized.

The information on current plans for Cienfuegos, however, afford us many more details about the ambitious designs of Cuba’s “reformers”, who will have less obstacles in their way now that Murillo has been appointed Cuba’s Minister of the Economy.

According to Ministry of Tourism representative Luis Enrique Gonzalez, plans for nine golf courses with more than 22,400 surrounding hotel suites, are being developed in the province.

The plans, to be executed between 2018 and 2019, aims to develop two resort destinations to the south of the province, on some 2,400 hectares, Prensa Latina reported.

Located 20 kilometers from the provincial capital, the destination, Rancho Luna – Pasacaballos, will encompass six 18-hole courses and have a capacity of 16,614 rooms (between hotels, apartments and villas).

Campo-Golf-Varadero-2014-3--Jimmy-Roque-MartinezThe second destination will be Playa Ingles – La Tatahagua, to be located some 60 kilometers from the provincial capital, closer to the city of Trinidad. The construction of three golf courses and facilities with a lodging capacity of 5,820 suites are planned there.

The project to be undertaken in this province is seeking foreign investment from sources that have not been revealed.

Generally speaking, Cuba’s official press has offered us disjointed and biased coverage on the progress these types of projects have been making, such that we do not know whether the plans for Playa Guardalavaca, in the east-laying province of Holguin, are still underway, particularly after hearing that the water crisis in Cuba’s east will last for several more years.

In 2011, we were informed that the Council of Ministers had approved four initial projects in the provinces of Holguin, Pinar del Rio, La Habana and Matanzas. The Guardalavaca project entailed an investment of 455 million dollars, and it was being pushed forward by a Canadian consortium.

To promote the creation of these real estate development joint ventures aimed at the creation of golf courses, the country offers a 99-year or unlimited lease of the land to potential investors as the main incentive.

The island’s tourism officials have not wasted any opportunities to sell potential investors the idea of building golf courses in Cuba.

A press conference offered by Cuba’s First Vice-Minister for Tourism Alexis Trujillo in 2012, before hundreds of journalists who were then covering Pope Benedict’s visit to the island, was highly revealing.

There, Trujillo informed the press that they were “foreseeing the construction of 13 new golf courses which are at different stages of negotiation, as well as the assembly of several theme parks.”

Campo de Golf en Varadero
Golf course in Varadero

At a meeting with the press held in January of this year, other tourism spokespeople insisted on the business opportunities being offered for the development of joint ventures aimed at the creation and operation of hotels, real estate development for the building of golf courses, management and marketing contracts and franchises abroad.

On this occasion, Daniel Alonso stressed MINTUR’s willingness to assess foreign investment interests in areas that show potential and have yet to be developed.

Though these initiatives are being executed now, they were conceived as early as 2011, as part of the Comprehensive Services Export Strategy (EIES) which regarded tourism as one of the country’s potentially exportable services, despite the fact the sector had reached a plateau and has not yet managed to recover.

The EIES seeks to market comprehensive packages or solutions, promoting service mechanisms through which customers with high purchasing power can travel to Cuba and receive full services packages (and thus increase profits for the country).

Cuba currently operates two other 18-hole courses in addition to the one in Varadero: the Capdevila and the Habana Golf Club, both of them located in the capital. This quantity, however, is not enough.

From the perspective of securing quick and significant profits, greater infrastructure is needed. Hence plans for the building of marinas, golf courses and the real estate associated to these (despite the fact that these projects do not help the country become self-sufficient).

None of the information published thus far gives any account of the decision-making processes with respect to the plans the government has for these vast expanses of land, nor about how the profits to be derived from these are to be handled.

Photos: Jimmy Roque Martínez


Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

10 thoughts on “Cuba to Build More Golf Courses

  • …..that Cuba needs freedom, democracy and respect for human rights is the oldest , lamest , screed , repeated like a mantra by those who have never actually been there but have only read the literature put out by vox americana . It is such a tiring means of criticism by those who would never dare look honestly at their own country’s fallen democracy and its diminished state of affairs . Cuba will do well to partner with responsible foreign companies in order to benefit the people ; if they adhere to their overall plan , the building of golf courses will enhance the business of tourism in anticipation of the lifting of the embargo . Then maybe the American people will be given a chance to enjoy the jewel of the Caribbean , and be able to play a little golf on the side !!!! How cool would that be?

  • Prostitution is alive and well in most of the larger cities in Cuba- Similar to Canada !!!

  • Some of the biggest pools of $$$$$ in North America is pension plan funds and they do not invest where the population has few jobs. I want retunn on investment on the dollars I pay into my pension plans.

  • I have two Cuban / Canadian children that I choose to raise in Cuba. My son is going to be a Dr. of Internaional Law and then into politics. He belives in a market economy and is related to the late Celia Sancez and the late Sir John A. McDonald.

  • You really are a joke. Your solution for socialist Cuba’s economic woes is not freedom, or democracy, or greater respect for human rights. No, you want to turn it into a theme park and casino for wealthy tourists to play in. Why not add prostitution to your list of marvellous suggestions? Let’s really pimp out the Cuban people, eh. Comemierde!

  • New Houses For Cubans
    To build a new house in Cuba you need :::
    1. Serviced lot.
    2. Lots of $$$
    3. Cubans working in good jobs
    A state of the art Theme Park for Varafdero & Guardavalaxa would certaily help
    # 2 & 3.
    Orlando Florida has the best occupancy rate for resorts and hotels in the Americas
    A top notch Theme Park would get many tourists out of A.I. resorts and spending many dollars apart from their A.I. resort costs.
    If Cuba wants Chinese tourists there should be casinos in these Theme Parks. Macaw China does 7 times more in revenue than Las Vegas.
    Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C. Canada
    [email protected]

  • Cuba does not need a theme park. Cuba needs freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.

  • What Cuba needs is a world class Marins Theme Park. China recently built a $ 2 billion theme park. That is where the $$$$$ are !!! > No money in golf courses.

  • The British firm Coral Capital had a contract with the Castro’s to build a luxury resort and golf course near Guanabo. After ten years oaf work and an investment of £400 million, the Castro regime police arrested Coral Capital CEO Stephen Purvis and tossed him in jail for 16 months. All of their assets were seized.

    Let that serve as an example to any foreign corporation thinking f doing business with the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Castro regime.

  • This is just silly. Nearly 20 new golf courses aimed at foreigners on the drawing board and yet Cuba is lacking nearly a million homes for its citizens and can’t feed it’s people. Golf courses are water resource and labor-intensive ventures that do not generate huge revenue streams. Most high-end courses in the US survive by membership fees and live on the incomes earned from its regular users. The once-a-year tourist is simply not enough to sustain a course. By building high-end hotels adjacent to the course, you only increase costs without a compensating increase in revenues. Put another way, if you price a hotel room such that every tourist who stays in the hotel helps to subsidize the golf course, you will increase the cost of the room. Non-golfers will stay elsewhere. If your hotel depends on largely golfers to increase occupancy, then you shrink the pool of prospective visitors. Golf resorts can make financial sense, but never on the cheap. Anyone who has been to Hawaii can confirm this. Cuban leadership is very wrong on this one and like so many failed ventures in the past, this will fail as well.

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