More golf projects planned for Cuba


Sean Dudley
By Michele Witthaus

The return of golf tourism to Cuba is underway with work due to begin on several contracts awarded to foreign firms.

Having begun the process of relaxing its property laws in August 2010 to allow some foreign ownership of property, the Cuban Government plans to establish more than a dozen new golf courses on the island in the next five to seven years.

UK-based Esencia Hotels and Resorts is to start construction on a $300 million golf club project, Carbonera Country Club, in the Cuban beach resort of Varadero within the next few months. Another British firm, Foster and Partners is to build a 2,000-unit golfing community with three courses in the same area for a Spanish developer. Meanwhile, Vancouver-based Cuban company Leisure Canada plans three golf developments in the province of Pinar del Rio.

Canadian company, Standing Feather International is in the final stage of negotiation with its Cuban partners to build a joint venture, Cuba-Kanata Golf, on the north coast, to a design by architect Graham Cooke. The club will cover 520 acres and include two golf courses, a five-star hotel, and 1,200 townhouse-style condos. Montreal firm 360 VOX is also said to be planning to start work next year on a golf resort in Jibacoa, near Havana. It will include a marina and two 18-hole courses, along with a nine-hole training course. The company is also hoping for a 2012 start date.

These planned developments are part of the biggest step forward in the much talked about renaissance of golf on the island since the Varadero Golf Club on the east coast was extended to 18 holes according to a design by Les Furber, president of Golf Design Services, in 1998.