For over two decades Cuba has been one of the worlds few destinations where in order to receive a hotel confirmation, one had to prepay the whole stay, days, weeks or months in advance. Some visitors having prepaid thousands for a hotel stay in Cuba six months or more in advance. But not any longer!
Recent sweeping changes introduced in July 2013 mean that you can now secure your hotel booking in Cuba without the draconian 100% payment regime imposed until now. Apparently, due to dwindling hotel bookings and a marked preference for the “pay on arrival” casa particulares, the Cuban tourism officials have introduced these new measures designed to increase hotel room sales and stimulate bookings. Hotel Bookings Cuba is the first of such booking platforms.
The hotel chains currently allowing 100% confirmed bookings without prepayment are; Melia, IBEROSTAR, Occidental, Gran Caribe, Cubanacan, H10, BE LIVE, Breezes, SOFITEL, HABAGUANEX, ACCOR, ISLAZUL, SANDALS, Gaviota, BELLEVUE, MEMORIES or Mercure.
The system operates similar to familiar world standardized hotel bookings where a card is provided during the booking process, however, unlike before, the card is only charged after you have checked into the hotel. The card is not required at check in because it is charged automatically once the hotel advises the system that you successfully checked in, at which time the charge is completed without your involvement or any local payment being required. In all intents and purposes, it operates much like a prepaid booking for the hotel check-in formalities because the hotel need only advise you´ve checked in order to obtain full payment from the booking system.
Another welcome feature is the multicurrency billing, which now means that hotel rates are shown in all major currencies instead of just Euros or CUC.
With thousands of successful bookings since July 8th (when the system rolled out), the coordination has proved faultless, with guests receiving their guaranteed Cuban hotel booking upon arrival without hiccups.
With world economies still affected by financial crisis, it is more than likely that this decision was taken to align Cuba with the rest of the world. After all, paying months or up to a year in advance may have deterred visitors from choosing Cuba when destinations like Jamaica, Dominican Republic or Miami have been allowing non prepayment of hotel rooms for over a decade.
We think that Cuba may be looking to cash in on these organized travelers who book well in advance but, until now, have steered clear of Cuba due to the immense payment required to secure their hotel stays.
With Cuba Hotel Bookings now firmly in the 21st century, we can only expect tourism numbers to increase in 2014.