From the top of the Manaca Iznaga outlook tower, the Valley of the Sugar Mills looks like a sheet stretched. Foreign tourists passing by cannot resist climbing the 184 steps that allow seeing the transformations undertaken in the area, thanks to the development program ruled by the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur).
The achievements attained in the rehabilitation of farm houses and other locations in the valley is just one of the lines of Mintur’s investment strategy in the province, where over 100 million pesos were earmarked during the last five years for the improvement and expansion of hotel infrastructure.
There is no other choice if you want to give a break to the Cuban economy: you have to invest to attract strong currency, even more in Sancti Spiritus, where the hotel industry is quite obsolete. During the last decade, only one hotel has been built in this territory, the Grand Hotel Iberostar Trinidad, in 2006, while La Ronda Hotel (also in Trinidad) was remodelled, and Don Florencio was opened in Sancti Spiritus, after reconditioning and old building in the boulevard of the city.
DON FLORENCIO: REALITY BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES
This four-star and twelve-room hotel, managed by the Encanto brand, was built on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Fourth Cuban village in June 2014.
Don Florencio has been moving from less to more. Since its foundation, it has raised around 100 000 CUC, according to Yuniel Hernández, head of the Encanto hotel chain in Sancti Spiritus city, who highlights the high level of satisfaction of tourists, guides and tour operators.
In TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, customers don’t stint their praises to this small facility when referring to its warm environment, architecture, and personalized service.
Travelers agree with the Encanto brand that always takes into consideration two basic principles before opening new facilities: it’s got to have patrimonial value and be located in a central urban area.
IZNAGA PALACE: REALITY TO BE SEEN
Not everything has turned out perfectly in the restoration of the Iznaga Palace, where the spirits of Don Pedro José Iznaga and Borrell seem upset when seeing his mansion upside down, in the midst of such reconstructive delay.
Reiner Rendon Fernandez, head of the tourism sector in Sancti Spiritus, has explained the reasons for the delay in more than one scenario.
The reconstruction process of the former 10-room mansion, now set to be a hotel of more than 30, has been faced with several difficulties such us the hard rocks of its foundation, which led to the breaking of some of the equipments.
Engineer Pedro Sicilia, from the company in charge of the reconstruction works, referred to the deterioration of the old dwelling as another problem dealt with. On the other hand, the recovery of part of the woodwork has been also difficult since there is no wood in the territory which is thick and large enough to replace the huge doors, for example.
According to Rendon Fernandez, they will receive some imported wood to solve this problem.
The construction actions at Iznaga Palace have turned out an obstacle course, said Mintur investor, José Pablo Niebla, who also stressed the sometimes insufficient qualification of the labour force.
Party and government analysts agree that the shortage of workforce, difficulties in the organization and preparation of the work, and the lack of control by investors, builders and suppliers have tripped the conclusion of the new hotel.
If each of the involved parties fulfils its duties, all the abovementioned delays will be ancient history for the sake of tourism development.
More than one has called Reiner Rendón a dreamer, when he talks about the new tourist facilities that will be built in the province. In order not to stick to projects, but to realities, he refers to what has been done during the last five years in the Cubanacán and Islazul hotel chains, as well as in Palmares facilities.
The rehabilitation program of the Valle of the Sugar Mills also goes from less to more, and Mintur is now engaged in the restoration of the Buena Vista farm house. The preservation of this house and other four will demand a huge outlay from this ministry.
All this grandeur can get caught in the eyes of tourists who climb the tower Manaca Iznaga, magnetized by the beauty of the plain and oblivious of the investments going on in this piece of land, resembling a moving landscape.