Hotels Race to Cuba

Marriott International Inc. Reports Second Quarter Earnings
A Marriott sign hangs at a hotel in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Wednesday, July 14, 2010. Marriott International Inc. is expected to release their second quarter earnings after the closing of the trading day today. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg—Getty Images

Good morning. I’m back from a week of skiing in Utah, and wondering whether next spring I should try a warmer spot – maybe Cuba? That’s where President Obama is this morning, along with Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson and AirBnb CEO Brian Chesky. The hospitality industry is clearly first in line to take advantage of new business opportunities on the island.

While a triumph for Obama, this has to be a bittersweet trip for Sorenson. On Friday, Starwood (HOT) snubbed the Marriott CEO by announcing it planned to accept a higher $13 billion bid to be acquired by Anbang Insurance of China, breaking its deal with Marriott (MAR). Sorenson has until March 28 to sweeten his offer. [As this CEO Daily was going to press, Marriott unveiled a larger bid on Monday].

Moreover, Starwood beat Marriott out of the gate in signing an agreement to manage three landmark hotels in Cuba, including the Hotel Inglaterra. Marriott also received approval from the Treasury to do business in Cuba, but Sorenson said “there is still work to do before any agreement is reached.” AirBnb, of course, beat both hoteliers: it already lists rentals in Cuba for U.S. travelers. Yesterday, it received approval to open listings to non-U.S. travelers as well.

Also on the Cuba trip : Paypal (PYPL) CEO Dan Schulman, who is trying to turn the former eBay unit into a global payments platform, and Xerox (XRX) CEO Ursula Burns.



Separately, my colleague Pattie Sellers has gotten a first look at Erin Callan’s new book, Full Circle, A memoir of leaning in too far and the journey back. Remember Callan? She was the CFO of Lehman Brothers before it collapsed in 2008. The book recounts how Callan tried to commit suicide on Christmas Eve of 2008, shortly after her ouster. Sellers says the book is a kind of counterpoint to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which urges women to be confident in pursuing their careers. Callan’s book warns of the dangers of overconfidence.

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