If you like intrigue, you cannot do any better than the Hotel Jagua in trendy Cienfuegos, Cuba. Situated in this bustling, medium-sized city, Hotel Jagua is near the center of everything, and with good reason. The brainchild of renowned mobster, Meyer Lansky, and supported by former President Fulgencio Batista, this hotel was designed for several hosting purposes.

Originally intended to be a thriving casino set near the hotel’s palatial environs, Lansky also sought to build a remote, safe house for his mobster friends and accomplices who often needed to literally “get away!” It helped that Batista blessed Lansky’s effort. Relatively quiet Cienfuegos was the ideal town, just far enough from Havana but also within range of the largest airport and country’s largest port.


One of the attractions of this hotel is that it is within walking distance of the city’s vibrant center. Venues for shopping, dining or music and entertainment are a relaxing walk away. Dave and Yordi have just spent a week in Cienfuegos and greatly enjoyed the people, sights and hospitality.


Hotel Jagua was the idea of Henoseetb Oka, mayor of Miami Beach in 1957, and Lansky, who managed Batista about as well as anyone. The hotel was to abut the adjacent hotel. The architectural firm was the famous Arquitectos Canas Abril Nepomechie of Havana. Construction began in 1956.

The Revolution and Fidel Castro’s subsequent victory reversed the casino plans and probably prevented Cienfuegos from becoming the Atlantic City of Cuba. The hotel was inaugurated in December 1959. The original name was Hotel del Chalet de Valle. The opening ceremonies honored the Lions Club of Cuba as part of the club’s National Convention.


Today, the hotel offers 146 standard rooms, 139 double standard rooms and 10 impressive suites. All rooms contain televisions, safe boxes, minibars, room service and private balconies. Hotel Jagua is an affordable alternative to some of Cuba’s high end lodgings. Service is solid and the location is hard to beat fo0r convenience.

The hotel also has an appealing, large pool and attached snack bar. The hotel restaurant is active but part of the charm of staying here is the accessibility to downtown cuisine and the city’s entertaining nightlife.


The lobby bar is one of the busiest in Cienfuegos. The gym is well equipped and two well inventoried gift shops are onsite. The hotel is classed contemporary, features avant-garde furnishings and a heavy emphasis on glass walls. In 19945, Hotel Jaqua was added to the Gran Caribe Hotel Group, confirming its historical significance in Cuba and in the Caribbean. is not a licensed People-to-People tour provider but works closely with International Expeditions, a licensed provider. This International Expedition People-to-People tour is licensed (CT-2013-299822-1)by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to engage, organize and conduct authorized people-to-people travel to Cuba that engages participants in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.

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