Dutch developer plans Cuban resort


Sean Dudley

Amsterdam-based firm Romar Finance is planning a golf resort project to the east of the Cuban capital, Havana.

Romar has big plans for the Tarará site, which, originally founded in the 1920s, was developed as a resort community in the Art Deco style by American Royal Webster. After the Cuban revolution, Che Guevara went to live in a villa on the resort while recovering from a severe asthma attack. The property includes 400 homes, a motel, a beach that was formerly regarded as one of Cuba’s best, and other facilities. Since the revolution, it has been used for a variety of different purposes by the Cuban government, and in 2001 was put in the hands of state-owned enterprises Cubanacan and Cubalse, with the aim of redeveloping the site as a tourist resort.

After the dissolution of Cubalse by the government this year, another state-owned corporation, Cimex, took over Tarará, with the aim of selling properties on the resort to overseas buyers. Romar, which has been active in Cuba for 15 years, has been working on the project for the last eighteen months.

Immediate plans include the expansion of Tarará’s marina and renovation of the existing motel, but the Dutch firm has ambitious longer-term goals. These include a pier for yachts, new hotels and other resort facilities – and an eighteen hole golf course.

Leading Netherlands firm Meyer en Van Schooten has been appointed to design the built architecture. No indication is yet available as to whether Romar has agreed on a designer for the proposed golf course.

A number of international developers are known to be examining potential resort projects in Cuba as the Communist-controlled island seeks to open up its economy to overseas investment.