Maybe you are interested in the values Havana has to offer as a destination in the Caribbean, already know or have read about the insignia institution at all Cuba hotels; Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Perhaps you know the architectural distinctiveness, its formidable and elevated position in front of the ocean, of its competitive services, and it is possible you can even recognize the almost 80 years of experience in providing service and that it is the preferred accommodation of all the famous people who have visited the capital of the Antilles.
Inaugurated in the late 1930's, Hotel Nacional de Cuba has guided many comments, and its goodness has traveled around the globe.
But even if you are familiar with the island, it is highly unlikely that you know many of the stories that this eclectic building holds. Of almost none of these stories I will share with you in this, my first article for Cuba Travel Blog.
I would like to start by telling you that Hotel Nacional could be in a completely different place today … The actual location is actually what most identifies this hotel within urban map of Havana. The hotel is located on the coastal outskirts of Punta Brava, in the highest position of the Taganana hill, almost in the outskirts of Caleta de San Lázaro. This location uses to be a permanent place for pirate ship's territories during the XVII and XVIII centuries, the reason why the Spanish metropolis chose to establish the famous Canon battery of Santa Clara, some relics of which can still be found in the hotel's gardens. But as mentioned before it could have been built in another place.
It was the last decade of the last century, and Havana needed a luxurious hotel. It should be noted that Cuba already received about 60 thousand tourists a year. The President of the Republic was Gerardo Machado, and in his ministerial council he is a man who, in the time and with his efforts in public works under the direction of Gerardo Machado, would be called The Intrepid. We refer to Carlos Miguel de Céspedes. It was this man who most developed the idea of building Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
An immediate reaction isis from several interested investors. The American Casa Morgan pushed Machado's government to allow them to build and operate this hotel. A delegation of American bankers and entrepreneurs was in Havana these days led by Mr. Brownson, Chairman of Purdy & Henderson Construction Company. Its members had an interview with Mr. Céspedes and manifested that if the government were to give reasons for the old Havana prison, the company would build a magnificent hotel in 500 rooms. It was these men's intention to build the hotel more to what Havana Sea View was, right at the entrance to the Bay of Havana, so the future hotel would face the lighthouse of Castillo del Morro.
Carlos Miguel told the Americans that this location could not be used for the project, as the government had already designed these reasons for the construction of the Justispaladset, which plans had already been provided by Foresturer's famous French planner; Céspedes had a better place in mind.habana-hotel-nacional.jpg
Mr. Brownson reacted in rage and confronted the minister. Without control, he told him that he would not accept anywhere else than he had requested. When Céspedes realized that he was pushed, he called the design firm's president a "zoquete" (blockhead) and told him that it was impossible for them to do anything at all. When the other members of the US delegation noted that the minister was not someone who could be "depressed" they managed to calm both men and for a while they all agreed to visit the location of the Cuban Representative had in mind and was willing to bid.
A moment later, Céspedes would tell the story of the press with the following words:
"When Mr. Browson came to his place, he was speechless to the old Canon battery of Santa Clara.
The contract for the construction of The hotel was even auctioned, at least apparently, and was won by Purdy & Henderson, who also represented the Hotel Plaza interests in New York and Morgan House. A total of 3 million pesos were invested in the hotel.
Another evidence on irreconcilability was presented by Carlos Miguel as he suggested that in the contract it should be very clear that only the Cuban flag would flatter in the property. This determination would provoke another incident. There were times when the American flag would wave it Official Buildings of the Cuban Flag.
The day of the signing of the contract, collected what was the high society in the time in Havana with President Machado. While the contract was read, Céspedes noted that the case he had requested had been omitted and to President Machado, Carlos Miguel surprised the contract and demanded a new contract where it would be clear that only the Cuban flag would flatter the hotel.
This story, related to the start of the installation, is just one of many that the hotel treats. So when you visit this property and enjoy the privileged view of the Havana coastline, you will now know how the location was argued and finally established. With stories like this, we will be back very soon. For now I say goodbye to you all.