State-run love motels, once a rousing success, coming back to Cuba

FILE PHOTO: Tourist Johan Cavoloro, 27, from France, kisses his girlfriend Sheila Leal, 26, from Cuba, at the canal of Havana's bay, Cuba, July 17, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba is reviving a network of state-run “love motels” in Havana where couples can rent rooms by the hour as the communist government seeks to “diversify options for love,” the official trade union weekly Trabajadores said on Monday.

Havana, the capital of the Caribbean island, boasted dozens of such “posadas” until the 1990s, when the remaining few were given to Cubans left homeless by hurricanes.

Privacy has became all the more elusive for lovers, given a housing shortage that forces many families to live in the same apartment and couples to live together long after their divorce.

Private establishments have filled in the gap for some, the trade union weekly wrote, but many cannot afford to pay around $5, or a sixth of the average monthly state wage, for three hours of bliss.

The less fortunate must resort to “parks, dark staircases, the beach and even the Malecon (seafront),” Trabajadores wrote. But now the state wants to make lovemaking easier again.

“We want to revive this service that is in high demand, has a big social impact and without a doubt is very profitable,” Alfonso Muñoz Chang of the Provincial Housing Company of Havana was cited as saying. “We will start with what we call Hotel Vento, a two-storey building with 16 rooms with bathrooms.”

“The city needs this,” Hotel Vento administrator Maria Sterling was cited as saying, noting that employees would be “very enthusiastic” as wages would likely rise with the extra work.

Next, authorities will restore some once-famous love motels like La Monumental to their former glory and convert another hotel, Muñoz Chang said.

“To think about how to diversify options for love is not farfetched,” Trabajadores wrote. “It is a reality that concerns everyone, and cannot become a luxury.”

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Richard Chang