The foreigners visiting Havana used to be Canadians and Europeans on cheap beach package tours and left-leaning Americans on dutiful rounds of organic farms and neighborhood health clinics. Ten months after the U.S. and Cuba declared the end of a half-century of official hostility, the mood in Havana has changed.
The city is filled with celebrities coming to party and hedge-fund managers sizing up their chances to make millions in one of the last bastions of communism. As an influx of American cash starts feeling imminent and inevitable, there’s a giddy, frothy feeling in the air, at least the air breathed by Havana’s privileged. While most Cubans remain on the outside looking in, Havana’s high society has a gold-rush, center-of-the-universe pulse that hasn’t existed here since Fidel Castro stormed down from the mountains in 1959 and threw out the last group of foreigners who saw Havana as their tropical playground.
“The next big bubble is going to be nightlife. That’s what happened to Cancun,” said Ziad Chamoun, a Boston-area restaurant and club owner turned wine importer who was drinking champagne in a waterfront villa on Saturday afternoon with five friends, including the head of one of the world’s largest emerging-market investment funds……..