Florida's Tampa Bay is getting an exciting addition to its landmarked historic district of Ybor City on Sept. 24, when Hotel Haya will swing open its doors. The hotel evokes a diverse blend of Spanish, Italian, and Cuban heritage, with nods to the Golden Age of Havana, via its design, artwork, and culinary offerings. Alfonso Architects Incorporated, founded by Cuban-born brothers Albert and Carlos Alfonso, was responsible for the architecture and design of the property, which combined and restored two historic buildings: the district's first restaurant, built in 1890, and the Warren building, rumored to have housed Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.
Ybor City—known as the Cigar Capital of the World—got its name from Vicente Martínez Ybor, one of the largest cigar titans to bring production from Cuba to U.S. shores in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. An influx of Spanish and Cuban immigrants soon followed, giving Ybor City its eclectic culture, tradition, and cuisine. Hotel Haya is named after another pioneer in the cigar industry, Ignacio Haya, who was admired for his philanthropic efforts.
The property features four massive reproductions by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya, exposed brick walls, a cozy library, a courtyard pool, and a repurposed corner "HAYA" sign hanging prominently outside. Plus, custom cigars from J.C. Newman Cigars, one of the oldest family-owned cigar companies in the country, are available for purchase. There are three dining outlets, all with food by the so-called "Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine," Douglas Rodriguez, who is a James Beard Foundation Award winner. Flor Fina is the hotel's upscale Latin-inspired restaurant featuring wood-grilled coastal cuisine, Café Quiquiriqui is a charming Cuban café with casual menu items like empanadas and a Cuban sandwich, and there is also a pool bar.
The 178 rooms feature a sleek, minimalist design with a dark blue, red, and gold color palette with dark wood accents. Details like Chihuly-style glass globe light fixtures blown by artisans from the nearby Morean Art Center that recall the street lamps of Ybor City, record players with records by Cuban musicians, and marble bathrooms with Grown Alchemist bath amenities and Frette bathrobes round out the luxury experience.
The hotel will also feature a collaborative art initiative with the University of South Florida’s Graphicstudio and Contemporary Art Museum, with rotating artists’ work on display. The first artist featured will be Ybor City-based artist Theo Wujcik.
Hotel Haya is the first of six new openings between now and early 2022 for luxury lifestyle brand Aparium Hotel Group, which also owns the celebrated Detroit Foundation Hotel and Kansas City’s Crossroads hotels and six other properties across the country. Starting rates begin at $199, with advance purchase non-refundable rates starting at $169. Reservations are open now.