The Trump administration has ordered Marriott International Hotels to close down its business interests in Cuba. According to the company, which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, it has until August 31 to end its operation of the Four Points by Sheraton Havana Hotel, and withdraw from management arrangements with the venerable Hotel Inglaterra, which has been undergoing renovations.
“We have recently received notice that the government-issued license will not be renewed, forcing Marriott to cease operations in Cuba,” a company press release stated on June 5.
The Four Points Havana hotel was inaugurated on June 28, 2016, as part of the Obama administration’s effort to normalize relations with Cuba. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) provided a two-year government license to Starwood Hotels and Resorts, later acquired by Marriott, to operate the Sheraton, and to manage at least two other hotels in the future; the Trump administration renewed the license in 2018.
Located in Cuba’s Miramar neighborhood, the 186-room Havana Sheraton was “the first American hotel to welcome guests to the island nation since the 1959 revolution,” according to Conde Nast Traveler magazine, creating a symbol of détente between the U.S. and the island nation.
“The opening of the Marriott created a substantive symbol of positive, pro-business engagement with Cuba,” said Julia Sweig, a Cuba specialist who advised Starwood Hotels and Resorts on arranging their deal with the Cuban government.
In a statement issued on Friday, Marriott said that it “continues to believe that Cuba is a destination that travelers, including Americans, want to visit. Marriott looks forward to reopening in Cuba if and when the U.S. government gives us permission to do business there again.”