I’m asked a lot about Havana.
I suppose my opinion has gone from rookie observations to a seasoned sophomore at this point- there are so many others here that have lived and learned so much more than me. But FWIW here’s what I see.
- Sonic attacks are at a bare minimum (haha). Whatever happened, whoever knew, wherever they got that thing… if it existed at all…it is safe to say that no-one here gives it any more credence than the sinking of the battleship Maine. While I can’t make any guarantees, I think it is safe to say the risk of danger from rum overload is probably greater than the danger from sonic attacks.
- The hotspots are still pretty hot. I once wrote about a list written on a napkin at 304 O’Reilly in Old Havana. It remains the quintessential go-to list in this town. The places on the list are still full, vibrant and damn good. Most of the owners report softness (one night overflow, the next is half full), but they are doing fine.
- The targetting of the Cuban Military’s Tour Business seems to have had at least one high profile casualty: the Kempinski is empty, despite being new, beautiful, and in a perfect spot. It’s on the US State Departments no-go list, and the place is creepy barren of beautiful people. To that end, POTUS’ Miami initiative was effective.
- Havana entrepreneurs seem to have a “we got this” attitude about weathering the rest of the storm and seeing it through. Certain change is in the future (new president, the fathers of the state are passing, Venezuela isn’t coming back anytime soon). And the Cuban’s are very entrepreneurial, master problem solvers and resolvers. The future of Casa particulars, paladars, and the entrepreneur class is pretty hopeful, I’d say.
Last night at dinner in Vedado, a young Cuban said to me “I just hope we don’t become Puerto Rico”, selling out to Marriott, Burger King and the rest. I see her point- Cuba’s unique charm has been in the ice box for 60 years. It would be a shame to just throw all that in the fry-o-lator and sell it in a Happy Meal.
We are doing our best to support Cuba’s authentic charm and entrepreneurial class. I hope you will come discover it soon.
You read this far? Thanks! How about joining the Innovadores Foundation at Grand Central Tech in New York City for the NYC:HAV Innovation Forum in February…