More and more, sun-bound Canadians are venturing off-resort to experience the authentic, non-contrived side of the destinations in which they are travelling. Thanks to its balance of beautiful beaches and rich history and culture, Cuba is a great choice for mixed experiences.
And the beauty of booking the dual-destination vacation on their behalf, explains Gina Mallamo of Meliá Cuba in Canada, is that you’ll be offering them peace of mind since everything is booked prior to departure, which means no surprises and no hidden cost. Plus, Mallamo adds, by combining two properties from the same hotel chain, travel advisors can ensure their clients enjoy a similar quality of stay, and better coordination between hotels.
HOW TO STRUCTURE THE TRIP:
While some travellers plan day trips to Havana from Varadero, Mallamo suggests that the excursion can be tiring, not to mention that it doesn’t allow for enough time to truly enjoy the UNESCO World Heritage City. As such, she recommends clients book three nights in Havana and four in Varadero, though this should be adjusted based on client interests. For example, those who love music and dancing might want to spend more time in Havana.
That said, while many Canadian tour operators can help you customize a tour, many also have pre-packaged stays that pair Varadero and Havana. But what basic information should you know to start selling? Mallamo provides a few insider tips:
CHOOSE THE HOTEL IN HAVANA ACCORDING TO YOUR CLIENTS’ WISH LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN THE CITY.
- MELIÁ HABANA has three freshwater pools, one of which is the biggest in the country, making it an ideal place for relaxation or for families. It’s also known for having the best Italian restaurant in the city.
- MELIÁ COHIBA is home to Habana Café nightclub, where many Cuban bands come to perform. The vibe here is truly that of a city hotel, because of its close proximity to downtown.
WHEN BOOKING CLIENTS IN VARADERO, ASK THEM WHAT SORT OF AMBIENCE AND EXPERIENCE THEY ARE SEEKING.
Suggest Paradisus-branded properties for a more upscale stay, which will also include diving, among many other activities and sports, ideal for an active holiday. Also at Paradisus resorts, clients should opt for Royal Service upgrades for the most luxurious and exclusive 18-plus experience in Cuba. This will provide access to an exclusive section – a “hotel within a hotel” – designed with superior comfort and extra privacy. Elegant accommodations are enhanced by butler service and exclusive access to additional fine dining restaurants and bars, in addition to other VIP services such as late check-out. For similar perks, suggest The Level at select Meliá-branded properties, which is also open to children.
For families who might have larger budgets to invest in their vacation, customize a combo to include Paradisus Varadero. This resort has recently introduced a Family Concierge section, with 284 luxurious junior suites and suites, three exclusive restaurants plus exclusive bars and pools. Family Concierge guests can also access a Baby Club and a Mini Club, a games room, and have a specially-assigned Family Concierge available to assist during their stay. Paradisus Princesa del Mar, located on a beautiful section of beach in Varadero, is an adults-only property, perfect for couples or groups seeking a child-free escape.
The contemporary Meliá Marina Varadero and Meliá Peninsula Varadero are great options for families looking for a more affordable resort on the beach without compromising on quality. Both offer accommodations for larger families.
Meliá Las Antillas is an adults-only property and a good fit for a group of friends looking to enjoy the best beach in Varadero. And for those who prefer a centrally located resort, Meliá Varadero is a perfect choice.
Paradisus Princesa Del Mar
SOME COMBINATIONS AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET
Length of stay: Three nights in Havana and four nights in Varadero (transfers included)
TRANSAT – Properties:
Meliá Cohiba (buffet breakfast) and Meliá Marina Varadero (all-inclusive)
Meliá Habana (buffet breakfast) and Meliá Peninsula Varadero (all-inclusive)
SUNWING – Properties:
Meliá Cohiba (buffet breakfast) and Meliá Las Antillas (all-inclusive)
Meliá Habana (buffet breakfast) and Meliá Varadero (all-inclusive)
HOLA SUN – Properties:
(Includes excursions to Tropicana in Havana & Bellamar Caves in Varadero)
Meliá Cohiba (MAP) and Meliá Varadero (all-inclusive)
Meliá Cohiba (MAP) and Paradisus Princesa del Mar (all-inclusive)
Meliá Habana (MAP) and Meliá Marina Varadero (all-inclusive)
More combinations are available through other operators, such as WestJet Vacations.
- Havana is 1.5 hours from Varadero airport.
- Wifi is included in Havana hotels, and in Royal Service and The Level sections.
- Meliá hotels in Havana offer free daily shuttle service to Old Havana.
- If your clients are waiting on a deal, advise them not to, as package prices are not expected to go down, Mallamo says. “Since space is limited, we suggest your clients book in advance.”
Visit www.meliacuba.com for more information.