Central + South America Cuba An Update on Tailor-Made Travel to Cuba “Having organised tailor-made trips to Cuba for over four years, we have an intricate knowledge of this extraordinary country and have always delighted in delivering outstanding travel experiences for our clients. However, recent changes in Cuba, as covered by the media, have had a huge impact on its tourism industry which is struggling to cope with the overwhelming increase in visitors. We feel cazenove+loyd’s standard of tailor-made experiences are not currently achievable in Cuba, which needs time to catch up with the demand it is facing. For the time being our tailor-made team will not be sending our clients to Cuba, however we will be keeping a close eye as the country develops. We continue to maintain the strong relationships we have with our team on the ground. – Sarah Griffiths, Destination Expert Cuba has a fascinating and turbulent history which means that there is an abundance of aspects to explore. For those who have a passion for the arts and music – Cuba is a ‘must’. Music in particular is at the heart and soul of this country. Cuba will transport you back to a bygone era which is yet to be compromised. Our guides on the ground are very much extraordinary, they are academics, musicians and artists who can all speak from experience and are passionate about sharing their knowledge with you. At cazenove+loyd we can get access to pretty much anything with our little black book of contacts. Havana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982, has some of the most beautiful examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the world, wander the sultry streets, and get a real feel for Cuban life. To see some of the ‘real’ Cuba, head out into the countryside where you’ll find vast sugar cane plantations, cattle ranches, beautiful mountain ranges and stunning beaches. Here you’ll find the local Cubans playing dominoes, never far from a bottle of rum. Behind the façade of the old colonial buildings of Havana and Cuba’s smaller towns, privately -owned boutique hotels are now beginning to pop up alongside the small bars and cafes which are Cuba’s way of life, night and day. Private enterprise is one of the most notable changes of Raul Castro’s economic reform programme in the last year, this has led to the opening of many new private restaurants, known as Paladares (especially in Havana). Additionally there has been a big refurbishment programme of some original Paladares which vary from being hosted by the owners to stylish, slick restaurants adjacent to or within their homes. This has completely changed the Havana food scene, so much so that eating out is a pleasure with a wealth of different options, lots of ambience and great personable service. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Living La Vida Cuba Cuba is jam-packed with unimaginable adventures. From the moment we landed, my family and I realised this would be a trip like non-other. To start off with, anyone reading this story must understand that if you are eager to explore Cuba you need to accept the fact that time is definitely not of the essence and simply enduring this is an intriguing experience in itself. Find out more Cuba Past vs Future VJ Singh visited Cuba a week before US President Barack Obama’s historic visit. She and her husband focused their trip on art and photography in Havana and Trinidad, with the help of excellent local guides. They went on photo walks, met interesting local artists and photographers, sampled Cuban cuisine in outstanding restaurants, attended music shows,… Find out more A VISIT TO CUBA SURPASSED ALL MY EXPECTATIONS Henrietta Loyd, Director and Founder of cazenove+loyd travelled to Cuba to explore its rich, vibrant and colourful Caribbean culture. All her expectations were surpassed by the life and energy of the country as well as its warm and friendly people . What surprised Henrietta the most though is the country's thriving art and music scene. Find out more An Unforgettable Cultural Whirlwind Sophia Constant, our destination expert experienced an unforgettable cultural whirlwind on her recent trip to Cuba. She travelled from buzzing Havana to sleepy Trinidad. She sampled local dishes, visited important landmarks and the deep countryside, dancing each night away to traditional Cuban salsa. Find out more An Inspired Journey to Cuba Georgina Montague spend eight wonderful days exploring Cuba on one of cazenove+loyd's exclusive escorted tours. The culturally inspired trip, lead by Henrietta Loyd, took Georgina as part of a small group on a memorable journey to see some of Cuba's highlights and witness first hand the life and soul of this vibrant Caribbean island. Find out more AN ENCHANTING JOURNEY TO CUBA One of our clients, Kim Marie Evans, travelled to Cuba on our exclusive inspired journey to discover the country's vibrant art and culture. She fell completely in love with the island, discovering it was everything she imagined it to be. Cuba got under her skin and she left feeling enchanted by its warm and friendly people. Find out more Show All Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. Finca Kenia On the edge of the sleepy, soulful city of Trinidad, you enter Finca Kenia through tall wooden doors off an insignificant street, into an unexpected world on the other side. The sense of calm here is soothing; people move slowly, time falls away as you watch the horses amble in the yard and begin to unwind and settle into the Cuban rhythm of life. It is typical whilst travelling in Cuba to stay in private homes, but this home is unique from the rest. Their creation of this charming rustic lodge is a real success Find out more Hotel Saratoga Hotel Saratoga is one of the most beautifully designed hotels in the heart of Havana with an enviable location and incredible views of the Capitolio building. The service is smooth and impeccable and the staff will look after you with sincerity and effort. The interior is stylish and reminiscent of the glamour of pre-revolution Havana with a very luxurious feel to it. There is a cocktail bar on the mezzanine level with ever-changing lighting adding to the fun atmosphere for an evening of typical Havana rhythm and soul. Find out more Los Jazmines Los Jazmines is a grand, pink mansion in the heart of the green wilderness of Vinales, surrounded by steep sided hills that make for fantastic views looking out from the hotel over the lush countryside. The prime rural location of Jazmines is what makes it so special, as it is the perfect base from which you can visit tobacco plantations, explore local hidden caves, go hiking or even take horse and cart to misty lakes at sunrise. Find out more Palacio San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal Palacio San Felipe is a small, boutique hotel in Havana, where you will be looked after on a really personal level. The hotel is incredibly charming in design; looking up at San Felipe from the square outside, it is a stunning old building with a grand exterior of baroque design and right next to the beautiful Basilica de San Francisco de Asis. Situated moments from the Malecon, you are in an ideal location for discovering Havana's historical and cultural highlights. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. Cuban Coast Activities The Cuban coast is wonderful for exploring the world under the sea, especially around Trinidad where the well-preserved coral formations are spectacular. Maria la Gorda is arguably the best location for diving due to the variation in beautiful places to investigate. Find out more Exploring Havana Havana is Cuba’s capital city and the heart and soul of the country. Alive with rhythm and colour, a stroll through the Old Town immerses you in the enigmatic history of the place and you can really get to the roots of this extraordinary culture and experience a life entirely different to your own. Find out more Off The BEaten Track We know and love the rural side of Cuba, but balancing time between exploring the depths of the undiscovered countryside with the draw of the enthralling capital city, Havana, can be tricky if you're tight with time. We always encourage a day or two off the beaten track and we know how to make it worthwhile. Find out more Location We know Cuba better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Cuba Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Cuba’s peak season runs from December to May, when the weather is drier and slightly cooler. From June to November the temperature can be hot and humid with wet weather on occasion. Cuba is very much a destination in itself but is increasingly being combined with Mexico. Meet the Team Central + South America Johnny Milly Chris Sarah We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.