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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Hotel Nacional: An All-time Classic

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, with a history of more than 85 years, stands as a key part in the island´s tourism sector, with a location that strengthens its presence in the legendary Malecon (Seafront drive).

The facility is among the 10 Palace hotels in the world, besides having the category of National Monument of Cuba and Human Heritage, while the documents recording its history are part of the Memory of the World collection, sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Despite the challenge of time, the establishment has earned 10 times the World Travel Awards, awarded after a rigorous selection process in which more than half a million professionals in the travel and tourism industry from around 170 countries.

Located in the coastal salient of Punta Brava, in the Taganana hill, almost to the end of the San Lazaro cove, the occupier of that place in the eighteenth century was the Battery of Santa Clara, part of the defensive system of Havana of which some vestiges are still remaining, to the delight of visitors.

Vacationers' attention is caught by the galleries gardens, reminiscent of monastic cloisters of Hispanic-Moorish arcades, while the main floor is similar to three parallel aisles of a church in the Middle Ages.

The hotel´s main attractions are precisely in the history behind its walls, silent witnesses to the passage of personalities of various kinds, from political leaders to artists, famous athletes and sinister figures of the American mafia.

Nacional de Cuba Hotel. Bar
Nacional de Cuba Hotel. Outside corridors
Nacional de Cuba Hotel. Outside corridors

Its 457 rooms, including 15 suites and one presidential suit, contain the photographic memory of the Gallery of the Gulf from Mexican art figures like Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), Pedro Vargas, Tin-Tan and Maria Felix.

Among the divas received in the halls of the National are Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Libertad Lamarque, plus star as the famous "top models" Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

The presidential suite, still active, welcomed leaders of all time such as Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England, the Kings of Belgium and several heads of state who visit the island.

A proven point of reference for international tourism and the entertainment until the 50s, the Hotel Nacional also welcomed the famous American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, professional boxing legend Rocky Marciano and scientists of the stature of Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.

More recently it became the traditional venue for events linked to tourism and wine, together with the existence of the Film Corner, matched every year with the Havana International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

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