Construction of a mega project that would include an 18-hole golf course and around 1.000 residential units will start next year in Cuba as part of the island’s push to transform the nation into a major destination for high-end tourism, golf and real estate.
Henri Wilmes, vice president of acquisitions for London & Regional Properties, a private investment company, confirmed his firm’s plans for Carbonera, a village in the province of Matanzas, located roughly 20.5 miles away from Cuba’s popular resort of Varadero.
A joint-venture with Grupo Empresarial Extrahotelero Palmares S.A., a subsidiary of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, L+R’s project calls for a total investment of over $350 million, with construction set to start in the first half of 2016, said Wilmes.
Completion of the whole project would take around five years, said Wilmes. Construction of the golf course, included in the first phase, should last until the end of 2017.
The development, temporarily named Carbonera Golf and Beach Resort, will expand over 395 acres and also include an ultra luxury hotel and spa, retail space and restaurants.
“We are strong believers in our project,” said Wilmes. “The expectations on both sides are great but it is yet to be seen when these would materialize,” he added.
This is L+R’s first project in Cuba but Wilmes said that the company is interested in developing others in the island.
Gabriel Álvarez, director of Cuba Golf S.A., a partnership of Palmares in charge of golf-related projects in the island, said that the joint-venture with L+R is part of a bigger program by the government to develop between 12 and 13 similar real estate projects in the next 10 years.
“This should help the country to position itself as a destination for real estate related to marinas and golf courses,” said Álvarez.
Carbonera Golf and Beach Resort is the first partnership of this plan. The joint-venture was created last year but details of the plans are being known just now. Recently, Palmares formed its second joint-venture with China’s Beijing Enterprises Group to create Bello Monte S.A., which will develop a golf and residential project in the beach town of Guanabo. The investment of around $500 million is the largest in the island and construction there should begin in 2018, said Álvarez.
“We are in a phase of opening up the real estate market and we know there is a growing interest,” he added.
President Barack Obama formally announced last week that the U.S. is renewing diplomatic relations with Cuba, while removing the 50-year-old commercial embargo remains a decision solely of the U.S. Congress.
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