France's Accor expands Cuban footprint with luxury hotel
PARIS May 11 (Reuters) - Accor, Europe's largest hotel group, said on Monday it had sealed a deal to open a luxury hotel in Cuba, the 518-room Pullman Cayo Coco, near the Caribbean island's international airport.
Accor, which has been operating in Cuba for nearly 20 years, already manages two mid-scale Mercure hotels there, the 178-room Mercure Sevilla Havana in Habana Vieja and the 385-room Mercure Playa de Oro in the Varadero beach esort.
Accor, which competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood and operates 3,700 hotels worldwide made the anouncement during French President Francois Hollande's visit to Cuba.
Hollande is traveling with executives from French companies also including Air France and distiller Pernod Ricard , eager to expand their business here with an eye to the potential end of the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba.
Under the deal signed with long-time partner state company Gran Caribe, Accor will operate the new Pullman hotel under a management contract. The hotel will open in November 2015, the statement said.
Accor said it was working on another project with Cuban tourism group Gaviota, to build a luxury 218-room hotel, the Sofitel So La Habana, in La Havana.
Over 3 million tourists visited the island last year, generating over $2.7 billion worth of revenues, according to Cuba Tourism Ministry. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Geert De Clercq)
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