Robaina's plantation

Wednesday 19 June 2013

'Club Havana' formerly The 'Biltmore Yacht & Country Club' (Havana)

                  I have been here on several occasions over the past few years and will be going more often now that I rent near by. I didn't go as often when I was renting closer to the older part of the city. If I don't go to relax by the pool, I go to the 'La Casa del Habano' to buy some cigars and have a chat or grab a bite to eat at the bar or restaurant. If I enter the complex to spend money in one of the shops I will be waved through the gate, otherwise if I'm going to use the facility (pool, gym....) I must pay 20cuc per person and my Tourist Card or Passport is kept until I depart.
                   This mansion in the Reparto Flores in Playa, Havana, was built in 1928 and called the Biltmore Yacht & Country Club at that time. They broke ground on the project Feb.1, 1927 with the then President Machado placing the first spade in the ground & James J. Walker, mayor of New York (who was on vacation), the second. The official opening of the building was Feb.1, 1928. One of the main activities when the complex was first built was for the practicing of amateur sports by the Cuban elites. You can see this from many of the pictures hanging on the walls on the ground floor of the main building. They participated in many sports on the premises; basketball, tennis, bowling, rowing, shooting, baseball, swimming and golf....I'm sure I've missed something. I've seen the Tennis Courts and of course the pools but nothing else except maybe the mini-golf that I never see anyone use. I must do some exploring and find the Yacht Basin and see if the Baseball Diamond & Golf Course is still there.
                    It's a well documented fact that the last President, Fulgencio Batista, was refused entrance in the 50's due to the fact that he was considered black, he was half black and half Chinese. In 1958 the club had 3940 members with the majority of the foreign members being Americans. It's one of the few places where Fidel has dined publicly.
                    Today, annual membership is 1500cuc or 20cuc daily fee to use the facilities on the grounds. It has the only decent natural (private) beach on this side of Havana and they mention a Dive Center that I haven't seen yet. It has an excellent Fitness Center, one of the best I've seen in Cuba, with Sauna, Massage and Aerobics. They have a business center with internet, 'El Chelo'...a gourmet restaurant that's very good and reasonably priced in my opinion, 'La Bodequita' excellent sports bar with professionals tending bar, private rooms for business meetings, piano bar, banquet room, boutique stores and last but not least one of the best Cigar Shops in the city. They even advertise a day nursery. The Luxury Apartments have been sold to foreigners for a pretty penny, I've heard somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. One of the few areas in Cuba to allow this.
                     I will continue to come to Club Havana, it's easy to spend an afternoon at this place and because of the expense you won't find any riffraff. I love the restaurant and bar and in case I want to sit outside it has a wonderful patio overlooking the beach and ocean. The day I spend a longer period of time in Cuba, I can see myself coming to use the gym. The price is a bit steep but it's not bad for a treat. You can also get a locker and towel for a fee and the fitness center has showers and bathrooms with toilet paper. The 'Hotel Palco' in Cubanacan, Playa, advertise free use of the Club Havana facilities if you stay at the hotel. The pictures don't do the place justice and after doing some reading I'm going to have to do some exploring on my next visit.

Club Havana
5ta Avenida e/188-192
Reparto Flores, Playa, Havana
tel. 537 204 5700

Main Entrance

Back of the main building taken from the beach

Main entrance of building taken from front of boutique shops

Boutique shops taken from upper level of main building

Mini Golf



Private beach

Terrace on upper level

Health center above with gym below

Private room with bar upstairs

Stairs at the main entrance

Banquet Room

A couple of the many pictures hung on the walls of the main building

El Chelo Restaurant

La Bodeguita

Cafeteria style restaurant near pools

La Casa del Habano

Jorge, master roller at the Cigar Shop