Bits: first Cuban five-star opens, 150 free Marriott points, no BA lounge at Stansted

News in brief:

Kempinski opens the first 5-star hotel in Cuba

If you have been put off from visiting Cuba due to the poor quality of accommodation on offer (Virgin Atlantic flies to Havana, as does Iberia from Madrid), there is good news.

Kempinski opened the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana this week.  It is Cuba’s first five-star luxury hotel, centrally located in Old Havana.  It is a conversion of what was originally a European-style shopping arcade, later used for offices.

The hotel has 246 rooms, six restaurants and bars and a spa.  Full details are on the Kempinski website here.

Kempinski hotel Havana Cuba

Get 150 free Marriott Rewards points

Marriott Rewards is offering 150 free Marriott Rewards points if you link your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds (50 points per site).

This promotion originally ran last year and offered 1,500 points.  For the sake of 150 points, which I value at around 75p, I’m not sure it’s worth handing over your information.  If you think differently, you can sign up here.

Escape Lounge Stansted 2

No BA lounge access at Stansted

(EDIT:  BA has now renewed its agreement at Stansted and the lounge is available again)

If you remember our review of the Escape lounge at Stansted Airport a couple of weeks, you may remember the picture above which lists British Airways.  This is because passengers on the BA ‘regional Cityflyer’ weekend services from Stansted were using the Escape lounge.

For some reason, British Airways has not renewed its contract with the lounge.  There is currently a bit of paper stuck over the BA logo on the sign above and passengers from the British Airways services are not being allowed in.  (You can still access it with a Priority Pass or Lounge Club card if flying on BA.)

With no other lounge in the airport, you’re going to be stuck in the main Stansted terminal area.  To be honest, I would be filing a compensation claim with British Airways if I was impacted by this as it is not acceptable.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

BA Avios 'taxes and charges' creeping up and miscalculated
Bits: £1000 SWISS fare to Rio / Beijing / Bangkok, Good To Go discount, Norwegian family accounts
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  1. Wally1976 says:

    OT – can anyone confirm if a current year ISA transfer into Virgin qualifies for the 8000 point bonus? Thanks

  2. Jovanna says:

    Is there any point in paying for Club Europe from Stansted? Apart from the meal and the Tier Points, you can’t be getting much more..?

    • Food is very good on Cityflyer, but they still have free drinks and snacks in Economy of course.

      People pay for CE out of City and that has no lounge and no Fast Track!

      • And half the time they don’t even eat the meal. 3/5 pax on LCY-AMS a fortnight ago wanted water only!

  3. That is so weird about the lounge at stanstead. I can’t imagine it would have cost them that much? Why bother selling club there at all?

  4. If you’re a BA customer in Stansted, there’s a good chance the taxi drive dropped you off at the wrong airport….

  5. Isodrac says:

    Given the horrific price increase of Cuban hotels over the past couple of years, I genuinely dread to think how expensive the Kempinski will be.

  6. James says:

    Having been there last week and, along with lots of other passengers, was denied access due to overcrowding, this lounge needs to at least double in size.
    I of course then needed to spend money I hadn’t planned for 🙁 Priority Pass just became less valuable to me.

    • Lady London says:

      Different lounge would be better. The Escape lounge has lovely staff but surely competition would help?

  7. Having recently come back from Cuba where we stayed at the Parque Centrale…i can confirm the Kempinski looks beautiful!! A place havana is in much need of (if you’re after a nice hotel as opposed to casa)

    • Graeme says:

      Was in the early stages of conversion when I was in Havana and also stayed at the Parque Central, it is a stunning building.

  8. BlackBerryAddict says:

    “If you have been put off from visiting Cuba due to the poor quality of accommodation on offer “. I can kind of understand why you are saying this, but the whole point of going to Cuba is perhaps not stay in luxurious hotels…

    And airberlin still flies to Varadero and Havana as well. We did that a couple of years ago – great use of Avios because of low taxes

    • The US airlines have already cancelled many of their new services to Cuba and the unacceptable standard of accommodation is the main reason being blamed …..

      • Cuba is fantastic and there is plenty of okay accommodation – especially in Varadero etc. if that’s what you are looking for – hotels are a bit ropey in Havana maybe. Do all Americans demand to stay in 5 star hotels? Maybe they won’t/can’t go because of the lack of opportunity to spend their points mountains.

      • Fenny says:

        What US and UK travellers deem “unacceptable” is wildly different in my book!

    • Graeme says:

      I completely agree, I thought you travel to experience the culture not the hotel room (within reason of course).

      If they are staying away that’s their loss. May save Havana’s old world charm for a bit longer before the onslaught of restaurant and coffee shops chains catering for those that want ‘acceptable standards’ of hotel accommodation…

      • Seems like a lot of people in this game travel to visit hotel rooms rather than culture though.

        i think a lot of US airlines are pulling back flights because they were actually incredibly over zealous when they implemented them. Instead of trying to grow organically they all wanted to outdo each other and wildly overestimated demand.

        • I think Americans are more put off by the fact that

          1) they can’t exactly go to Cuba on a whim, unless they have a proper reason or are willing to extend the truth a bit when asked by a US government official

          2) US payment cards may or may not work, or at least Americans have the impression that they might not work

          3) Exchanging USD cash costs 10% extra so they have to get euros or Canadian dollars

          Sure, it doesn’t put off everyone, but for Americans it isn’t the same as say going to the Bahamas, “accommodation standards” notwithstanding.

  9. Wally1976 says:

    Slightly OT – Marriott seem to have pulled the offer of 1000 Avios for joining their rewards programme. I was putting through a steady trickle of applications but the sign-up page has changed. It’ll be interesting to see how many Avios I end up with!

  10. Did you ask BA for a comment for this or just decide to rant anyway? An internal note went round yesterday saying there had been a mix-up with the STN management and the lounge IS available with immediate effect. In essence, CityFlyer is responsible for lounges where only they and not BA mainline fly and it was up to them to sort out. For once BA is actually not to blame!

    • Ooh…get her…;)

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      The problem with the way BA behave currently is that everyone is perfectly prepared to believe the worst. It may well be that this was an internal mistake in STN but equally nobody would have been surprised if it was a result of BA penny-pinching.

      It is a sad state of affairs but BA’s current culture is so bad that nobody is prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • And it was yesterday I published the article, which is possibly why the note will have gone around yesterday. After all, the lounge had been out of action for quite a few days.

      HFP articles are a very easy way of getting things done 🙂

      As you well know, getting any sort of sensible response from anyone at BA on any topic is well-nigh impossible.

    • Nick OCallaghan says:

      I complained to BA about not being let in the STN Lounge last sunday and notified HfP shortly after!. BA responded to me and have assured me they have passed on my comments to the customer experience team. No mention of any compensation or anything else, but I am still a valued GOLD member 🙂 …… They signed off the e-mail wishing me a pleasant flight with them next week from JFK to Vancouver. This is a redemption booking via BA on Cathay. I assume the customer service representative assumes BA are now flying within North America….

    • the_real_a says:

      Why should any customer care about the way BA manages its legal entities and franchises? This is internal BA issues that should never happen… and not really for Rob to be flagging in any event!

    • So what are they going to do about the (probably not that many) passengers who were unable to access the lounge last weekend?

      I think we should all get 1 year of free status extension.

    • I was denied acces to BA lounge at Stansted on 3rd June (BA Gold). Complained when I got back; BA took over a week to reply. Response was platitudes but no real answer as to why they have no Lounge nor any indication of when it may open. They have ‘passed my comments on to our Customer Experience team….’

  11. O/T – pushed over £10k on my first ever BAPP yesterday. Transaction is still pending – any idea when I’ll get my 2-4-1 to my account?

    Matey on the phone at Amex was talking about a maximum of 50-60 days!

    • Genghis says:

      Usually within a few days but my last one took a couple of weeks

      • Thanks. Looks like I’ll be missing out on using the £100 off £500 at 🙁

  12. Clive says:
  13. I was at Manchester Terminal 3 for the first Cityflyer flight to Malaga a couple of weeks ago. The BA lounge was closed. I complained subsequently and received a reply saying BA could not compensate us because it would set a precedent. There were precisely five of us in Club and three who were denied access. Are there grounds for compensation?

    As Rob points out, there is currently very little advantage in flying Club on Citifyler – food and drink are included in economy and there is no empty middle seat in Club. Champagne is about the only advantage and we forced ourselves to enjoy it.

    • Alex W says:

      Lounge access is part​ of the Club Europe ticket price so you should definitely go for compo!