Written on 20th September 2016 by Sam Robson

Viva Cuba Libre – The expert’s view

One of our Global Events Managers, Nicole Unsworth, recently visited the colourful city of Havana, the beaches of Varadero and travelled back in time to Trinidad and shares her views on this unique, exciting and surprising country ripe for the most amazing incentive trips and reward events.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and, without doubt, packs the most punch. The country is becoming an increasingly well-connected location to travel both to and around.  As of 2015, the travel restrictions for U.S. Citizens travelling to Cuba has been significantly relaxed and U.S. Citizens can now travel to Cuba under 12 categories most of which are all-encompassing so the majority of travellers can travel freely.

Following US approval, the first non-stop scheduled flights to Cuba in a half century will operate 3rd November 2016, with daily departures from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Havana. Flights from Asia Pacific offer a great opportunity to enjoy a multi-city trip to other countries en route to Cuba, stopping via Singapore, Paris, Vancouver and many more exciting destinations. All major cities in the UK operate services to Cuba, including direct flights from London and Manchester. In just over nine hours, UK travellers can fly direct from London (Gatwick) on a Virgin Atlantic flight. KLM, Air Canada, Aeromexico, Air France, Swiss, Avianca, Iberia, Air Berlin, Air China, Aeroflot and Air Europa are the other airlines currently flying into Havana.

There are very few places in the world nowadays which are virtually untouched by Westernisation and Cuba is one of them. Renowned for its astounding history, architecture, music, dance and hospitality, Havana in particular is a must. Hotel Nacionale, situated right on the Malecon, really is something special. There is so much history there from the moment you walk up to the building, it’s impossible not to transport yourself back to the 1960s.

What’s more, Cuban people are so friendly and inviting to tourists; they want guests to enjoy themselves and go home with the same passion for their country. There is so much to see and do, from walking down the Malecon at sunset, visiting Ernest Hemingway’s old house, sipping mojitos at the Hotel Ambos Mundos rooftop bar or taking a ride in a classic 50s Cadillac!  Cuba is highly affordable, even in the top restaurants and hotels but, beware, there are two currencies, both closed, so you must exchange at the airport. CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) is the tourist currency. Wifi is not readily available in Cuba, it is still one of the least connected countries of the world, and internet access is only easily available in hotels or government buildings.

Keep an open mind and leave behind any expectations of strict time schedules. Once you’re in Cuba, time operates on “elastic minutes” as the Cubans like to call it. Unfortunately, Cuba simply hasn’t had the funding that most MEDC have, so the standards aren’t as high as the Western world. The hotel rooms are mostly quite basic and the service can be slow, but be patient. With The Appointment Group’s experience of managing global incentives in the country, our team knows where to get the best guest experience and how to harness the charm.

 

 

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If you are interested in Cuba as a location for your company’s sales incentive or reward event, please contact our Cuba expert, Nicole Unsworth, on nicole.unsworth@appointmentgroup.com or +44 16 1817 2367.

For more information on The Appointment Group’s global event management services, please contact the team here.

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