THE HOTEL HISTORY
The most unique resort in Varadero.
Our Hotel is special in many ways and we have a long history to prove it.
The Xanadu Mansion, located on the San Bernardino crags, was designed by architects Covarrocas and Govantes in July 1927.
The owner of this exclusive estate was French American millionaire Irénée du Pont, born in New Castle, Delaware, United States of America on December, 21st 1876, who eventually had 8 children, 35 grandchildren and 5 great-grand children.
Irénée was the Dupont of that generation who took the greatest interest in developing the DuPont company founded by his great grandfather Éleuthère Irénée du Pont (1771-1834) in Delaware in 1802. During Irénée’s lifetime, the company became the largest diversified chemical products empire in the world, employing by 1957 over 90 000 workers in 74 plants worldwide. Before taking over the company chairmanship, Irénée had several jobs in construction, finances and development.
In 1927, at the age of 49, he retired from the chemical empire chairmanship and started to look around for a quiet place to spend his retirement. Like many Americans, he found it in Cuba.
The Dupont estate grew to some 1328 acres, covering parts of what today is the municipality of Cardenas. The land had been bought at the ridiculous price of four cents per square meter, but the estate’s value increased years later when the road, power plant and aqueduct were built.
That very same year he purchased 180 hectares of land on the Hicacos Peninsula for 90 000 pesos. The property included 8 km of virgin beaches, but he chose the rocky hills of the San Bernardino crags to build his dream house. The four storey mansion, with 11 bedrooms and adjoining baths, three large terraces, seven balconies and a private dock, was named “Xanadu”, after the exotic Palace built by the legendary Chinese warrior and conqueror Kublas Khan, as described by the English poet Samuel Taylor. According to the legend, “Xanadu” was the ancient kingdom of the Tartars, extending from Central Asia to Western China and parts of Russia.
In 1932 Dupont installed the largest privately owned organ in all of Latin America, worth $110 000 dollars. The machinery was installed in the basement and the organ worked automatically and manually. Two shafts carried the music to the mirador and the lobby, without inconveniencing the guests in their rooms. The furniture, including the organ, paintings and piano, were supplied by Theodore Baily & Co. and Meras & Rico.
Precious woods were brought especially from Santiago de Cuba for the ceilings, stair rails and columns, while the floors and bathrooms were done in Cuban, Italian and Spanish marble. The actual construction was entrusted to the Frederick Sneard Corporation at a cost of $1 300 000 dollars and finished on 30 December 1930.
Dupont would stay at Xanadu for a few months each year from early January, sometimes inviting important company executives.
The gardens were planted with coconut trees. On the Eastern slopes they planted flowers and a vegetable garden, together with banana, avocado and papaya trees. Parrots and cockatoos were imported to make the place more tropically enchanting.
Want to learn more about the Xanadu Mansion?
Here are some links to some very interesting facts about its history:
- Article publsihed in the newspaper El Cardenense on December 5th, 2012 (In English)
- Article publsihed in the newspaper El Cardenense on December 5th, 2012 (In Spanish)
- Information about the house in EcuRed (the Cuban Wikipedia) (In Spanish)
- Information about Irénée du Pont on Wikipedia
- Book on Amazon about Pierre S. Du Pont
- Book on Amazon about Alfred I. du Pont