Cuba’s tourist trade is reaching out to those who enjoy plenty of creature comforts on their vacations.
Lessner Gomez, director of the Cuba Tourist Board’s Toronto office, told a recent Toronto gathering that the country – on the verge of gaining more than 4,200 additional hotel rooms – is introducing a “new generation of modern and upscale hotels” in both Havana and beach destinations.
Among hotel openings in the Cuban capital will be the five-star, 162-room Gran Hotel Bristol Kempinski, Kempinski’s second hotel in Old Havana.
“The Grand Hotel Bristol Havana Kempinski is scheduled to open at the end of the year, and it will be the third property of this European luxury hotel group in Cuba,” Gomez said.
The hotel is two blocks from Old Havana’s upscale Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski.
Kempinski also decided to open a resort on Cayo Guillermo, found off Cuba’s north coast. The 245-room resort will be the first non-all-inclusive in the area.
Other Havana hotel openings include the new five-star Sofitel Paseo del Prado, which has 250 rooms and is located in “one of the most beautiful areas in Havana,” Gomez reported. “It’s part of the new generation of luxury hotels that will make this vibrant city one of the top destinations in the Caribbean.”
This year saw the opening of the Meliá International Hotel in Varadero, with Gomez declaring that the “absolutely spectacular” hotel is on “the “best part of Varadero Beach.”
“Built with top-notch technology and a green concept, it is one of the best examples of the new modern and trendy hotels that are being built in Cuba,” he stated.
The Cuban government has earmarked Cayo Cruz as the latest island off Cuba’s north coast to become a tourist destination, with the 546-room Valentin Cayo Cruz the first hotel to open there.
It will be followed by the 50-room Marina Plaza Hotel & Spa.
“This beach is comparable to Cayo Largo, with incredible blue turquoise water that invites tourists to relax and forget it all,” Gomez said of Cayo Cruz.
December will see the opening of the Sirenis Cayo Santa Maria Le Mirage on Cayo Santa Maria.
Hotels are also scheduled to open in Trinidad, Holguin, Cienfuegos, Havana and the Cayos next year.
Just in time for the busy winter season, Sandals has released its November schedule of weekly “Let’s Talk” webinar series for travel agents.
The fast-paced online sessions – conducted exclusively for Canadian agents – are just 30 minutes long, but packed with important information such as real-time product updates directly from the resorts’ management teams in the Caribbean, as well as sales and marketing tips and details on current booking incentives to increase agents’ commissions.
Simply by registering, agents will also receive a recorded version post-webinar that they can play back at their leisure in the event that they are unable to participate during the live session.
The schedule is as follows:
Nov. 15 – Sandals Royal Bahamian, 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST. Learn more about the Bahamas’ most elegant resort with its own offshore island in Nassau.
Nov. 21 – Groups, 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m. EST. Join Grant Lawlor, national groups manager, Unique Vacations Canada Inc., as he explains a new way to book groups with Sandals – Group Code.
Nov. 22 – Sandals Emerald Bay, 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST. Experience the ultimate golf, tennis and spa resort located in the Exuma Cays in the Southern Bahamas.
Nov. 29 – Sandals Grande St. Lucian, 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST. Explore this scenic resort offering grand views on its own peninsula, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
Forty-eight WestJetters are back in Canada after returning from the Dominican Republic for WestJet’s ninth humanitarian trip with WestJet Live Different Builds.
The team spent 11 days building five homes for families in the local community of La Union in Puerto Plata.
“It is inspiring to see the transformation of the communities that more than 450 WestJetters have volunteered their time and given their hearts to over the past eight years,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet vice-president, Marketing Communications. “As a brand and airline with caring at its core, we are grateful there are hundreds of WestJetters who have significantly changed the lives of these deserving families in the Dominican Republic. We are thankful to work alongside Live Different to continue making these important trips happen.”
This year, in addition to constructing the homes, WestJetters immersed themselves within the local community and raised more than $18,000 to refurbish a community playground and renovate two additional homes that were in disrepair.
Since 2012, WestJet has partnered with Canadian-based charity Live Different to make international community investment possible in one of the airline’s most popular Caribbean destinations.
In an effort to make cruise vacations available to everyone, Carnival Cruise Line has partnered with Uplift to bring flexible pay-over-time options to travellers.
Instead of paying for the cruise at the time of booking, Uplift Pay Monthly gives Carnival’s guests the freedom to finance their trip and pay over time.
With Uplift, vacationers can budget for their ideal trip by making monthly payments for up to 24 months, Carnival’s guests will be able to secure the ship, stateroom and itinerary of their dreams, while having clarity on the total cost with a predetermined payment schedule and payment amounts.
Uplift Pay Monthly will soon be available to Canadian residents.