British golf project in Cuba is first to get the green light
The lavish golf project developed by British investment group, Esencia, just became the first to get approval from the Cuban government. The authorities are seeing great potential in the idea of creating a better standard of golf holidays in Cuba as more tourists visiting the island become interested in the sport.
Esencia, a renowned British investment group, was the first to be granted the green light and given the go-ahead on their luxurious golf project in Varadero, Cuba’s top beach resort. Seeing the huge potential in new clients wishing to spend golf holidays in Cuba, the island’s Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero, announced that the Cuban government and the Esencia Group had made a formal agreement to begin construction of this costly project in 2014.
The group is very excited to finally begin the development of this £227 million project, named Carbonera. “We’ve been working on this for seven years, step by step,” stated Andrew McDonald, Esencia CEO “so we’re very excited it’s finally going to happen.” In addition to the large golf course, Carbonera will include a gated community with 650 apartments and villas, a hotel and a country club as well as a spa centre and yacht club.
However, it seems that the Carbonera plan will only be the first of many golf projects funded by foreign consortia to come. Minister of Tourism, Marrero declared at the recent FITCuba tourism fair that the government is already considering more deals with 10 foreign groups. The BBC has also reported that another golf project, this time with Chinese investment, is expected to get approval by the end of the year, as well as other projects funded by Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian investors. The Coral Capital Group, Canada’s Standing Feather International and a Spanish investor group who have formed joint ventures with the Cuban state company Palmares S.A. are also advancing in their projects.
The island’s Tourism Ministry is planning to turn Cuba into a golfing destination to rival other nearby options. According to Marrero, Cuba is planning to build at least 11 residential golf course resorts, in order to accomplish this goal. The income of tourists interested in golfing in Cuba will definitely boost the economy, as most golfers enjoy challenging themselves with new courses. “Golfers are known for travelling to new places, it’s a multi-billion industry,” said Andrew McDonald “I think Cuba will fit very well into that jigsaw, and be very popular.”
Nevertheless, these transformations wouldn’t be possible without the modification of Cuban laws concerning property. According to the reformed articles 221 and 222 of the Decree-law 273 published in the Gaceta Oficial No. 33, foreign developers and condo buyers are now allowed a 99-year leasehold of the land, which banks consider equivalent to ownership.
This is the first time in decades that foreigners are allowed to buy property in the island, an option which seems far more attractive for retirees than just going on relaxing Cuba holidays. Early figures already put forward that this market will be in high demand. “People retiring in Canada and Europe often look for a second home;” said the Cuban official in charge of developing the new sector, Gabriel Alvarez “Cuba has all the conditions to be an option for them: safety, nature, culture. So why not come here?”
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