By: Ian Stalker
Meliá Cuba is ready to introduce Canadians to some Cuban-style Dancing With the Stars.
The Cuban division of Spanish hotel chain Meliá used a recent virtual event to showcase its hotels and what awaits those who book them, among other things providing a look at such hotel features as rooms, beaches, restaurants and entertainment, including costumed Tryp Cayo Coco staff nimbly dancing to Cuban music in the dance-mad country.
And Marti Aragones, who overheads Melia Cuba’s Canadian division, said Meliá Cuba believes it will soon once again be hosting Canadians.
“We are sure shortly they will be able to go,” said Aragones, whose employer has the largest presence of any foreign lodging company in Cuba, with over 20 properties.
Two Meliá hotels in Havana are now open, as are four of its Varadero properties. All Meliá resorts in Varadero are expected to be open for the winter season.
Two company resorts on Cayo Coco are now open as well and Meliá plans to again be welcoming guests to Holguin and Cayo Santa Maria resorts in November.
All Meliá Cuba staff are expected to have been vaccinated against coronavirus within the next few weeks.
Nieves Ricardo of the Cuba Tourism Board’s Toronto office told event viewers that Canadians will find a changed Cuba when returning.
“Cuba is better than ever,” she said, adding those in tourism have been using the past year to upgrade their products.
“They’ve been really busy,” she continued. “When your clients go back, they’re practically going to find new hotels.”
Among enhancements is improved hotel WiFi, which used to be limited to lobbies and a few other areas but which is now found throughout the properties.
All Meliá Cuba properties have free WiFi.
Ricardo added that officials have taken numerous measures to safeguard the safety of tourists and others, among other things implementing airport temperature checks, social distancing, capacity control and “methodical cleaning.”
Hotels have health service teams that include a doctor and nurse. “If you have clients going to Cuba they can have peace of mind that if anything goes wrong, they will be taken care of,” Ricardo said.
PCR tests are available in hotels, costing US$30.
Cuba’s own vaccination program is rolling along, with 70% of the population expected to be vaccinated by August.
“Cuba will be safer than ever and ready to receive Canadians when travel restrictions are lifted,” Ricardo said.
Among Meliá Cuba staff who addressed the event from Cuba was Raul Testar, sales manager at the Melia Internacional Varadero, who noted long-stays are available at the resort. “It’s possible to work from paradise.”
Aragones said Meliá Cuba is working to finalize travel agent rates at its hotels.
Meanwhile, Lessner Gomez, who heads the tourist board’s Toronto office, used the event to thank both Meliá for its support of Cuban tourism and travel agents for sending clients to his homeland.
Cuba will “always be the second home for Canadians,” Gomez said. “We are ready to receive Canadians.”