CUBA, CARIBBEAN

Destination CUBA

Cuba, since its history as a millionaire’s and gangster’s playground, has been re-established as a go-to Caribbean island. Cuba is an island of contrasts with lush vegetation fringed by pure white sands, and centuries-old architecture standing shoulder-to-shoulder with modern resorts and hotels.

Cuba is a melting pot of cultures and its rich history has played a major part in shaping the Caribbean island of today. French, Haitian, Jamaican and Spanish heritage can all be seen across the island, making Cuba a holiday destination like no other.

Topography & Climate
Situated in the Caribbean Sea where the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet, Cuba is an island nation boasting wild and wonderful terrain and a tropical climate. Temperatures range from 21°C in January to 27°C in July, with two definitive seasons; wet and dry.

The dry season extends from November thru April and the wet season from May thru October – when the island can become prone to hurricanes.

In addition to CUBA bespoke travel arrangements – Livingstone’s Travel World has a selection of unique destination holiday and tour itineraries that offer amazing travel experiences. Details of these can be found amongst the information and links below


GENERAL INFORMATION
In many respects, stepping out in Cuba feels rather like stepping back in time; colonial architecture is prominent in capital Havana and other large provincial towns, while it’s also common to see classic American automobiles cruising rather stylishly around the island.

When it comes to the cuisine, the influences of both Spanish and Caribbean cultures shine through; the typical Cuban cuisine is epitomised by the national dish, Ropa Vieja, consisting of shredded red meat slow cooked with spices, peppers, onions and tomatoes, served with plantain. Coffee has been grown on the island for centuries, but its Rum has taken the limelight with thanks to the Mojito, the island’s national drink.

For energetic travellers, Cuba offers a host of opportunities for hiking, horse riding and some of the best scuba diving in the world. Activity-oriented or not, no trip to Cuba should be without sampling its most famous export, the Havana cigar. Discover whether they are truly rolled on the thighs of dusky maidens, or if that is yet another urban myth!


ACCOMODATION
The list and links below are of character, boutique, luxury hotels, retreats and resorts including those we recommend or featured in our holiday tour itineraries. Whilst the websites links provided should prove to be helpful,it should be noted that some hotels may often not reflect the “lack of investment” in the property. We constantly review these hotels with our local travel partners and will happily discuss the individual merits of each during the booking process Please be aware that we do not make “hotel” bookings on a stand-alone basis, we only book them as part of a travel package, or as an addition to an existing booking which enables us to use the best rates available at the time.

Hotel Florida, Havana | Hotel Inglaterra, Havana | Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana | Hotel Plaza, Havana | Hotel Santa Isabel, Havana | Hotel Saratoga, Havana | Hotel Raquel, Havana | Melia Cohiba Hotel, Havana | Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana | Hotel San Miguel La Habana | Iberostar Parque Central Hotel Havana | Hotel Conde de Villanueva, Havana | Tryph Habana Libre,Havana | Ambos Mundos, Havana | Hotel Los Jazmines, Vinales | Hotel Moka, Las Terrazas Sierra del Rosario | Hotel Porto Santo, Baracoa | Islazul Pernik Hotel, Holguín | Hotel Playa Pesquero, Holguin | Paradisus Rio de Oro, Holguin | Hotel La Union, Cienfuegos | Brisas del Mar Hotel, Trinidad | Iberostar Grand Hotel, Trinidad | Melia 5* Hotel, Santiago de Cuba | Islazul Gran Hotel, Camaguey | Royalton Hicacos, Varadero | Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa, Varadero | Paradisus Varadero Resort | Melia Peninsula Varadero Resort | Sanctuary at Grand Memories Varadero Resort | Paradisus Princesa Del Mar Resort & Spa Varadero | Melia Las Americas Hotel Varadero | Melia International Hotel Varadero | Labranda Varadero Resort | Labranda Cayo Santa Maria | Paradisus Los Coyos Villa Clara


WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS
Nothing can compare with getting married in romantic surroundings and Cuba provides a wonderful choice for those wanting a paradise location wedding or a really special honeymoon. The hotels and resorts listed below are just a sample of those we consider as being ideal for a Destination Wedding and or Honeymoon. Should require more information regarding the properties listed below, or considering something similar at another location, please call us on 020 7118 2110.

Hotel Royalton Cayo Santa Maria | Melia Cayo Santa Maria | Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, Varadero

CUBA WEDDING - Paradisu Rio de Oro GazeboHOTEL PARADISUS RIO DE ORO is a stunning ocean front resort set on Esmeralda Beach, overlooking a spectacular coral reef. An all-inclusive, exclusive, luxury adult-only resort considered one of the best in the world, it is ideal for couples, honeymooners, or that dream Wedding. The hotel offers personalised wedding packages, organised and overseen by an experienced wedding planner, offering the bride and groom exceptional value. Various concessions are also given to family and friends who might make up the wedding party.

The hotel has a wonderful outdoor pool, 8 restaurants, 7 bars, a discotheque, well-being spa centre with a gym and sauna, and a private beach area. The property also has a hairdresser’s, a business centre, car hire with free car parking and a range of leisure activities that include snorkelling and diving.

All rooms have a private bathroom with a shower, bath robes and free toiletries, a TV with cable channels and a coffee machine. Some of the beautifully-designed guest junior suites have private balconies and terraces, the luxury suites also have hammocks or Bali Beds on the terrace. The Royal Service features bungalows with private access, a butler service, exclusive incentives and preferential bookings at the fine restaurants.

This stunning adults-only property in Guardalavaca, Holguin Province is located in the Bahía de Naranjo National Park, only a few miles away from Guardalavaca beach, Naranjo Bay and the Dolphinarium. The Frank País airport is a 60-minute drive away.

CUBA HONEYMOON - Melia Cayo CocoMELIA CAYO COCO, located on one of the best keys in Cuba, is an All-Inclusive luxury resort designed for adults over 18 years only. An idyllic oasis of elegance and tranquillity, connected to the mainland by a stone causeway – the first built over the sea in Cuba – it offers total intimacy.

Add the pristine beach, ideal for scuba diving and fishing, to the wonderful rooms, superb services and resort facilities, and you have the perfect fit for that unforgettable romantic Honeymoon.

All the stylish luxury rooms at the Melia Cayo Coco have flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a hairdryer, minibar and free toiletries. They are distributed over two areas of the resort: the bungalows area on stilts over a natural seawater lagoon, and on an area of land adjacent to the beach. There are five different room types: Classic Rooms and Junior Suites with gorgeous views of the gardens, Junior Suites and Grand Premium Lagoon View rooms built on stilts over the natural seawater lagoon and Grand Suites with spectacular views of the lagoon and exclusive luxury services.

There are four restaurants offering a fascinating variety of dining options, six bars that include a beach and sports bar, a large freshwater pool, a fitness centre, sport facilities with a club house, and free day round service between the Melia Cuba hotels in Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. You can see why this luxury resort is popular with discerning holidaymakers.


LUXURY CITY BREAK

Havana, 7-Day Luxury City Break combines the very best of this magical city, a melting pot of cultures and rich history.Cruise the historic streets in an American classic car, meander around its cities markets, explore its Spanish castles, spend nights at cabaret shows including the famous Tropicana Show, and join a Rum & Cigar tour.

Havana, Cuba’s seductive capital city is an atmospheric treasure trove of lovingly-preserved colonial architecture, from grand mansions, to even grander churches and remnants of the walls that once protected the city. A city loved by the famous American writer Ernest Hemmingway known as “Papa” by the Cubans and of course of Fidel Castro. Today, this open-air museum boasts an ever-developing art scene which, despite contemporary art movements, continues to take the old with the new.

More recently, Havana’s creative culture has lent itself to an experimental surge of bohemian cafes and bars, perfect for sipping Cuba’s famously rich coffee by day and rum-infused Mojito’s by night. Walk along the Malecón esplanade, explore the cobbled streets in an American classic car… one must come to Havana with an open mind and a willingness to fall under its spell.

Tropicana Cabaret is hugely popular in Havana, known as the “Paradise under the Stars”; it opened in 1930’s and offers a true taste of Havana nightlife. The Cabaret show is an unrivalled spectacle of lights, costumes and entertainment. Nightly presentations are held in an open air amphitheatre, where hundreds of dancers perform exotic dance routines. The show which normally starts at around 21:30 also offers a Dinner option which requires an earlier entry time.

Club Habana is one of Havana’s only “high-end gated communities” with one of the only sandy beaches along the Havana Bay coast. Its features a sporting complex with a large swimming pool ,outdoor tennis courts, indoor gym, locker rooms, table tennis tables, snack bars, and an elegant restaurant. This beach oasis is fully equipped with chaise lounges, umbrellas, and attentive service from an awesome outdoor bar. Club Habana, originally called Havana Biltmore Yacht & Country Club gained notoriety when it refused Fulgencio Batistato the Cuban presidententry, is your go-to beach oasis if you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Havana proper and relax for an afternoon.


DISCOVERY TOUR

CUBA DESTINATION Discovery Tour (A Cuban Adventure)

A Cuban Adventure is the feature of our two carefully planned itineraries which start in Havana, Cuba’s seductive capital city with its bohemian cafes and bars, cobbled streets and American classic cars. The 16-Day Grand Tour itinerary provides an insight into Cuba’s cultural and historic past with visits to all the major cities and notable attractions, the 10-Day itinerary, a short Cuba cultural journey offers the opportunity to rediscover this Caribbean gem.

Baracoa, located in the isolated north-eastern corner of Cuba, is surrounded by virgin rainforest, secluded beaches and overlooked by El Yunque mountain. Believed to have been where Christopher Columbuslanded on his first voyage in 1492, Baracoa is considered Cuba’s oldest city. Today, cobblestone streets are lined by the weathered-tile roofs of single-storey buildings and an abundance of cocoa trees gift the region with sweet white chocolate. Inland, the Cuchillas de Toa, one of the world’s last untouched rainforests, shelters a large number of endangered plant and animal species, including the strikingly colourful Cuban land snail.

Bayamo, founded by the Spanish in 1513, is one of the original seven Spanish cities in Cuba and predates both Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Once the hub of the Spanish slave trade, Afro-Cuban culture remains strong in the area it has since been cast as the city that kick-started Cuban independence and often referred to as “the Birthplace of Cuban Nationality” and “the Cradle of Cuban Revolution”. The elegant city, still a major commercial sugar refining centre, is now a time-warp of city squares, parks and museums, favourably explored via horse cart; a charming glimpse of Bayamo’s easy-going and slow-paced culture.

Vinales, is an agricultural town and small slice of traditional Cuba. Its main street is lined with colourful wooden houses reminiscent of the colonial era, while in the Vinales Valley, old fashioned farming methods are still used to grow tobacco. Doors are left wide-open in this close-knit neighbourhood, where everyone knows everyone and years of tourism hasn’t diminished tradition. The Sierra de los Organos mountains with their steep-sided limestone hills, give a dramatically beautiful backdrop to an otherwise humble town, while the Casa de Caridad Botanical Gardens, filled with colourful orchids and flourishing palms, offer a much different sense of natural beauty.

Las Terraza, the Sierra Del Rosario Biosphere Reserve is about an hour west of Havana, in the rural Artemisa Province, is the community of Las Terrazas. A model for rural self-sufficiency, Las Terrazas is part of the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere reserve, created by UNESCO in 1984. The idyllic village is nestled on terraced hills around a man-made lake in the Guaniguanico Mountain Range, where birds and butterflies dance around tree-tops and the scent of lush vegetation fills the air. Las Terrazas may be a small village, but there’s something about it that you’d be hard pushed to find anywhere else in the world; ride horseback to orchid gardens and the waterfall at Soroa, ascend the mountains to find the ruins of Buenavista Coffee Plantation or descend to the valley and hire a boat out on the lake. Dine in Cuba’s best vegetarian restaurant and retreat to the village’s sole hotel – the eco-friendly Moka. Whatever you do, just don’t overlook it; Las Terrazas is a place best left to speak for itself.

Santiagio de Cuba, founded in 1515 by Spanish Governor Diego Velázquez, was once Cuba’s capital, before Havana took the status in 1593. Now, Santiago stands as Cuba’s second-largest city and is famed as a hub of Afro-Cuban culture. Both its location, facing out towards the Caribbean Sea and the Dominican Republic, and its fusion of Spanish, African, French, Haitian and Antillean cultures, have justly famed Santiago as the city with the greatest Caribbean ambience in Cuba. Come July, these influences come to life in Santiago’s Carnival; a festival of passionate music, colourful costumes and son dance.

Holguín, is a city in eastern Cuba. Known as the City of Parks and once deemed by Columbus as “the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen”, Holguín’s many elegant plazas and colonial buildings are set among rugged, mountainous terrain. Itscentrepiece – the Parque Calixto García; an expansive public square dominated by a 1912 statue of the so-named 19th-century general.

Not an area for mass tourism (or really any tourism for that matter), Holguín serves as a behind-the-scenes view to provincial Cuba; the plethora of classic American muscle cars, the roars of the baseball stadium, groups of friends enjoying a locally-brewed beer.. Holguín emits an air of authenticity quite unlike anywhere else in Cuba.

Camaguey, Cuba’s third-largest city is a pastel-hued maze of narrow alleyways leading to hidden plazas buzzing with mingling locals, live music and authentic eateries. With an elegance and creative culture reminiscent of capital city Havana, Camaguey’s abstract streets are also home to a number of inspiring art galleries and intriguing museums. Camaguey is also famed as Cuba’s ‘Catholic Soul’, evident through numerous baroque churches and cathedrals that can be found by simply meandering through the city. The height of unpretentious sophistication, a visit to Camaguey is nothing less than a pleasure.

Trinidad, is a perfectly preserved colonial town in central Cuba. Cuba is known to be a place where time has stood still and in Trinidad, it can feel as though you’ve been transported back as far as 1850. Its rainbow-painted homes with weathered-tiled roofs and pretty cobbled streets add charm and character to the grandeur of its neo-baroque plazas and colonial architecture. This combined with a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains, make Trinidad one of the most photogenic towns in Cuba, and have granted it UNESCO World Heritage status since 1988.

Santa Clara, a largely populated city in the geographical centre of Cuba, is a painting of Cuba’s revolutionary history. In 1958, Che Guevara’s liberation of Santa Clara marked the end of the Batista regime, shaping both the immediate and long-term future of the city. Now a creative hub of youth culture, satirical political humour, drag shows and festivals, Santa Clara continues to challenge the status quo, making for an interesting, vibrant yet somehow still quintessentially Cuban city experience, right at the heart of the nation.

Cienfuegos, dubbed Pearl of the South is situated around the country’s most spectacular natural bay on the southern coast of Cuba about 160 miles from Havana. This nautical city was founded in 1819 by French, and its elegant classical architecture was significant when listing it a Unesco World Heritage Sitein 2005. Cienfuegos literally translates to “one hundred fires”—cien meaning “one hundred”, fuegos meaning “fires”, is split into two distinct parts. There is the colonnaded central zone with its stately Paseo del Prado and graceful park; and the Punta Gorda, a thin knife of land slicing into the bay with a clutch of outrageously eclectic palaces built by the moneyed classes in the 1920s.

In his song ‘Cienfuegos,’ Benny More described his home city as the city he liked best. It has long seduced travellers from around the island with its elegance, French airs and feisty Caribbean spirit. If ever Cuba had a Paris this unquestionably would be it. The area where the city lies was identified as Cacicazgo de Jagua by early Spanish conquistadors was originally settled by the Taino indigenous people, and later by French immigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana led by Don Louis de Clouet on April 22, 1819. Many of the streets in old town reflect French origins in names like, Bouyón, D’Clouet, Hourruitiner, Gacel, and Griffo.

Cayo Coco, named after its native white ibis (coco bird), isan uninhabited tropical island off the north coast of Cuba. It is a colourful Caribbean paradise with intense turquoise waters, flourishing coral reefs and beautiful natural lagoons inhabited by pink flamingos. It has the sense of seclusion reminiscent of a paradise island, yet is connected to the main island of Cuba by a 17-mile purpose-built causeway.

Varadero, spanning Cuba’s Hicacos Peninsula, is a thriving resort town on the north coast of Cuba.Boasting one of the best and most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, with some 20km of uninterrupted golden sand, Varadero is paramount to Cuba’s tourism industry. Bite-sized elements of Cuban culture – art galleries, bohemian bars & cafes, live music, cabarets, cigar & rum shops – are dotted along the narrow strip and there are plenty of options to break up the sunbathing; water sports, hiking trails, even one of the two only golf courses in the entire country… Varadero is the perfect Cuban holiday destination.


GOLF HOLIDAYS

Cuba, Golf Holidays for Golfers looking for anew golfing experience Cuba’s Varadero Golf Club located on one of Cuba’s fabulous beaches offers an exciting opportunity. The 9-Day itinerary includes luxury all-inclusive hotel accommodation with 4 or 5 rounds of golf. A holiday extension with a 3-Night stay in Havana with days full of amazing cultural experiences in the sultry Cuban capital, and a round of golf on its historic golf course.

Varadero Golf Club: This 18 Hole par 72 course, the only 18-hole course in Cuba was opened in 1936 after several earlier attempts. This historically interesting course 6269 metres long, designed by Les Furber is made up of 5 x 5 par, 2 x 4 par and 5 x 3 par holes laid over three golfing architectures. A Classic design with broad fairways bordered by trees and wide and scarcely protected greens. Target Golf design with narrow fairways and heavily protected greens surrounded by sand traps and lakes. Links design with holes located alongside the sea following the shoreline where the ocean acts as another obstacle. The Club House “Xanadu Mansion” a Cuban National Monument inaugurated in April 1930 has a “players”reception at the Caddie House, a Pro Shop and Snack Bar. Accommodation is also available at Xanadu Mansion which is undergoing refurbishment that does not interfere with the day to day golf activities

Club de Golf la Habana: This 9 Hole par 35 course is located at Capdevila in southern Havana, fairly close José Marte international airport. Also known as Dilpo Golf Club it was founded by a group of British diplomats in the 1920s, one of only two in Cuba, the diplomatic corps is largely the clientele today. Originally called the Rover’s Athletic Club it also has tennis courts and a Basque ball court. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara once played a round here as a publicity stunt soon after the 1962 missile crisis and photographs of the event still exist. Che, an ex-caddy is said to have won. The golf course with wide and undulated fairways and greens surrounded by bunkers, set amongst slender palm trees and hundreds of big leafy trees offers a challenge to all golfers, but it is what it is – and needs treating as a not to be missed “golfing experience” .