Meet Karen Lantigua, Certified Destination Wedding Planner and Owner of

Karen Lantigua1. What characteristics identify an ideal Melia Cuba client?

Anyone is a Melia Cuba client, I really only offer a few particular brands in Cuba and Melia is at the top of my list. I know Melia Cuba can deliver. A Melia Cuba client is one who is looking for the most incredible beaches, romance or a fun family holiday, friends traveling together, sports enthusiasts, wedding or family groups and clients looking for exceptional service. All the properties offer something different to meet the needs of all of these types of travelers. Did I mention the beaches?

2. Which questions do you ask to help narrow down the ideal property for your prospect?

Beyond the usual qualifying questions, I like to ask what is the most important thing to them about their vacation. This open ended question can reveal so much more than asking, "what's your budget?" I am often surprised by the answers when I ask this question. If the most important thing to a client is spending time together to reconnect and some romance, I would recommend the Melia Buenavista, with luxe features of a boutique hotel set on the most spectacular beach, and romantic private outdoor showers for two (Yeah, I know, its getting hot in here!).

Others may want a more fun, family vacation to kick back and enjoy time together without having to worry about entertaining everyone and an awesome kids club. In this case I would suggest the Melia Las Dunas with the best Mojitos, beaches, live Cuban music every night and the best cappuccino you have ever tasted.

Could be golf is the most important thing? Melia Las Americas hosts the only golf course in Cuba with an annual golf tournament, awesome service, right on the most popular beach in Varadero. If history and culture are what they're after, Melia Habana and Melia Cohiba are located in Havana where the location is perfect for exploring the fascinating city, tasting some rum and watching cigars being rolled. Live, jazzy Cuban music echoes throughout the city. Turn a corner and be surprised by a colorful piazza that would envy those in Europe, stroll into an ancient church to discover remains of Diego de Colon, lets not forget a night at the Copacabana. His name was Rico....

3. How do you position Melia Cuba to clients who have never been to a Melia property?

I know its not fair but I like to trick them a little! Of course I tell them the wonderful features Melia has to offer and I do reiterate how warm and wonderful the Cuban people are and I do say that I am sure they have heard that the food in Cuba is not what they are used to. I love when they come home and tell me the food at the Melia was excellent and don't know what I was talking about.

4. Are there any upselling tactics that you find particularly successful?

When people are deciding on where they want to go on holiday they look at pictures on the internet, reviews, travel brochures, and they get an idea of what they think they like and want. These tools are helpful but at the end of the day what makes an outstanding holiday is their experience. I believe it's my job to try and find ways to enhance and create that experience for them. Royal Service is offered at the Melia Cuba hotels Paradisus Rio De Oro, Paradisus Varadero and Paradisus Princesa del Mar. After a long day of traveling and transfers and feeling hot, I know they want to walk into to a beautiful air conditioned lobby to be greeted with a glass of bubbly and a cold towel before sitting down to a private check-in. It makes you feel special, relaxed and creates excitement and anticipation. The VIP service at check-in is just the beginning. It's your holiday so splurge a little and upgrade, treat yourself, you deserve it, YOLO!

5. What makes you feel most comfortable about recommending Melia Cuba to your clients?

Number one: the product delivers to my clients. Number 2: I know they care. I know that I can tell the hotel it's a birthday or anniversary and they will do something special. They hear me when I ask for help - I am not shuffled off to write a letter or make calls and be connected all over the place only to he hung up on.

6. What consistently surprised you and/or your clients about Melia Cuba?

It's so hard to pick just one thing! For sure the people who work for Melia Cuba. I could say service, or attention to detail or so many little surprises. As an example, I once stayed a few nights at the Melia Las Dunas and every night on my pillow besides a yummy chocolate was a note wrapped up like a scroll that told a romantic story about Isa las Bujas (Witches Island), very close to our hotel. Each night was a little more about the story, so it was basically a bed time story. It was special and charming and I have never forgotten that.

Another time while visiting the Melia Buenavista, after enjoying a delicious lobster dinner, my husband and I could hear a sax playing so we walked down to the beach at twilight hand in hand, were handed a glass of sparkling wine and listed and watched while the sun went down.

It's really all about the whole Melia experience.


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