Work on the Carbonera Club can finally start after the Cuban government this month approved the plans for the luxury golf project, which will be the first in the Caribbean country since former President Fidel Castro shut down all the island’s golf courses some fifty years ago.
**The end of a long wait**
In 2008 Raul Castro took over from his older brother Fidel Castro as President of Cuba, and since then the Caribbean country has been slowly changing, with the introduction of reforms that have loosened the restrictions on the Cuban property market and has allowed Cubans to start small businesses. These changes have also opened the doors to international investors looking to explore newly-created opportunities in the county. One such person is the Chief Executive Officer of British Esencia Andrew McDonald, who has been the driving force behind the project for the first Cuban golf property development – the Carbonera Club, to be located near Varadero, Cuba’s most renowned resort (Golf Fever in Cuba ). And now the project has finally been given the green light, with Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero having confirmed that a formal deal had been reached for a joint venture between Esencia and the Cuban government to develop the Carbonera on a 170 hectare coastal site.
“It will be a major complement to the tourist offering of [the resort town of] Varadero and the start of a whole new policy to increase the presence of golf in Cuba,” Marrero said.
The official approval of the project marks the end of a seven-year period of negotiations between Esencia
and Cuban authorities.
“We’ve been working on this for seven years, step by step, so we’re very excited it’s finally going to happen,” McDonald told BBC reporters on a tour of the 170-hectare (420-acre) site.
And while it has taken seven long years for McDonald and Esencia to see their project approved, the Carbonera Club is posed to end an even longer wait, by reigniting golf fever in Cuba. Carbonera won’t remain the only project of its kind, with a dozen other golf course and golf property initiatives expected to follow. The plans for another golf course development, by Chinese investors, are expected to be approved by the end of the year.
!m[the Carbonera Club will be a $350-million golf course development](/uploads/story/2511/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)
**First of its kind**
According to the approved plans, the Carbonera Club will be a $350-million golf course development, comprising a golf course and gated golf property community of some 650 apartments and villas. A hotel, a country club, tennis courts, spa and a yacht club will complement the first Cuban golf property project.
McDonald said he expected building work to begin next year on a design which would transform the area.