Posted on June 7, 2012
By Michael Lewis
HAVANA — A classic scene in Godfather Part II has Michael Corleone and his mafia buddies sitting on the roof of a Havana hotel cutting up a cake with the likeness of Cuba on it.
The metaphor, of course, was that they were cutting up Cuba to use to their own devises.
It was only a movie, but you know what? A similar situation actually happened at the Hotel Nacional about a decade prior.
Yes, the same Hotel Nacional that I am staying at.
In his superb and detailed book, Havana Nocturne, author T.J. English details what transpired at the Hotel Nacional in December, 1946 — how the mob was going to turn Cuba in general and Havana in particular into their cash machine.
Instead of Corleone and his rivals, the real meeting(s) included the legendary Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, among others (the book, which was published in 2008, is fun and griping reading).
So, this hotel is steeped in history, good and bad.
Did anyone famous stay in my room or in photographer Keith Furman’s room? I doubt, but who knows? Hmmm, was anyone killed in our rooms? LOL.
For myself, there is some family history here at the Nacional as well, although not as nefarious as what transpired with Luciano, Lansky and company.
My aunt Ruthie and uncle Alvin (he came from Europe to the U.S. via Cuba, so he knew something about this country) spent their honeymoon at this very hotel in 1946. They have since passed on from this earth, but whoever thought their nephew would get an opportunity to visit the same country and stay in the same hotel?
One room in the hotel has pictures of some the high profile celebrities and mobsters who have stayed here.
This facility, which is on a cliff looking toward the ocean, is a fabulous, old world tourist hotel that was built in 1930, which has several restaurants and bars sprinkled inside and outside the grounds. It has 24-hour room service, a 24-hour cafeteria in the basement and towels with the name Hotel Nacional on it.
There is so much more so see and so little time to do it.
Categories: Caribbean, Cuba, Editorial
Tags: Godfather Part II, Havana Nocturne, Hotel Nacional, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Michael Corlene, T.J. English