Robaina's

Robaina's
Robaina's plantation

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski (Havana)

                 I remember walking through this building more than a decade ago with it's meager shops back at that time (no comparison to the ones there now). It reminded me of a similar one in Milan, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, that was built in 1861. Then one day, just like that, the building was closed. It wasn't until a few years later that renovations began and took what seemed like forever.
                The original structure was built by José Gómez-Mena, a Cuban sugar baron. Construction took from 1894 until 1917 and was the first European Style shopping mall to open in Cuba. Known as the Manzana de Gomez, it was called that because the building took up an entire city block on either side, Manzana in Spanish is Block. It was a prime commercial and office space location before the 1959 revolution but was in dire need of repair due to decay and neglect over the years. At one point it was even used as a school.
                The Kempinski Hotel Chain, a Swiss company & the oldest hotel group in Europe (celebrating its 120th anniversary this past year), reached an agreement with Gaviota. Kempinski runs 74 luxury hotels in 30 countries but this would be their first foray into the Americas. The structure had to be gutted in order to be converted into a 246 room hotel and took 5 years of renovations. My wife who had gone to school here 4 decades ago didn't recognize the inside, obviously, because everything inside was completely recreated. The hotel finally had it's grand opening in June 2017. A quick mention....of the 246 rooms, 50 of them are Suites.
               The Hotel is in a prime location right in front of Parque Central (Central Park Square) offering tremendous views of the Square and surrounding area. It includes 2 restaurants & 4 bars as well as a Cigar Lounge on the 2nd floor. Non-Residents are allowed on the property and I took advantage and visited the rooftop patio on several occasions during my last trip. The drinks are expensive for Cuba but not out of line with what we're used to paying back home and the quality of the drink you are receiving....did I mention the view is spectacular.
                On the ground floor, where the surrounding streets integrate with the hotel, a number of high end shops have opened in the spaces allotted. The prices are pretty high for most things, even the cigars at the Cohiba Atmosphere shop are higher than any of the other shops in Havana. However, I went shoe shopping with my wife one day and found something more expensive than what she's used to but reasonable. The Cohiba Atmosphere, although a beautiful space to smoke a cigar, doesn't beat the Hotel's Cigar Lounge (Evocación) on the 2nd floor.
               Although I've never stayed here, this is one of the most (if not the most) expensive hotel in Cuba. I wasn't able to nail down an exact price but in low season the regular rooms run for over $300usd per night and the suites for over $1000. I saw a package that Red Tag offered, $2869cnd for flight and one week stay at the hotel in April. During the Christmas holidays, a standard room went for over $600 per night and the Presidential Suite $2,800 per night.





Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana,
Calle San Rafael (entre Monserrate y Zulueta),
La Habana Vieja, Havana
+53 786 99100
reservations.lahabana@kempinski.com



















Atmosphere Cigar Shop Lounge






Atmosphere Cigar Shop Lounge


Rooftop Patio





Rooftop Patio


Hotel Cigar Lounge Evocación


Hotel Cigar Lounge Evocación


Hotel Cigar Lounge Evocación


Hotel Cigar Lounge Evocación


Lobby Bar El Arsenal


Lobby Bar El Arsenal


Lobby Bar El Arsenal


San Cristobal Restaurant


San Cristobal Restaurant


Constante Bar


Constante Bar


Constante Bar





View from Rooftop Patio




Monday, 7 January 2019

Partagas Encuentro Selfies (November 2018) Havana

                   I've been taking selfies before some kid made it popular a few years ago, even before the digital camera was invented. At some point during my picture taking at the Partagas Encuentros I begin to take Selfies. Most people are really good with it and some even have a bit of fun with it. Below are pics taken during the last Encuentro this past November. I hope you like them, I loved taking them.