Cuba the New «El Dorado»

Developers tee up to build golf courses.

The Luxonomist. 16/07/2015
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A man walks in a golf course in Varadero, Cuba, in this May 4, 2008 file photograph. (Photo: Reters/ Claudia Daut)

A British real estate developer plans to break ground early next year on Communist-run Cuba’s first luxury golf resort, a $500 million project that would be the largest private foreign investment on the island since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to Reuters.

With relations improving between the United States and Cuba, tourism and real estate are seen by many businesses as the most interesting investments, and the race is on to get in.Ian Livingstone, co-executive chairman of London & Regional, said in a telephone interview from London that construction would begin in the first quarter of 2016 in conjunction with an international building firm yet to be named. Cuba currently has just one 18-hole golf course, but the Caribbean island’s Communist government says it wants to eventually have at least 12 golf resorts.

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Varadero Golf Club. (Photo: Click for more information

The state enterprise Palmares SA has a 51 percent stake in the project, as it does with other planned golf resorts. In exchange for its majority stake, Palmares grants land with no property claims attached and allows a renewable 99-year lease on condos and villas.

Besides the London & Regional project, Palmares signed final papers last month with the Beijing Enterprise Group for a similar project, Jose Alonso, the tourism ministry’s business director, told official media last week.

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Golf and sunset.

He said a third project would be signed later this year, without naming the developer, and that two additional developments were being negotiated with unnamed Spanish firms, also with between 1,000 and 2,000 condominiums and villas for sale.

Cuba received 3 million tourists last year and reported a 15 percent increase in arrivals over the first four months of 2015. More Americans are coming after President Obama loosened, but did not lift, travel restrictions in January.

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