What’s new in Cuba
Visitors often report that going to Cuba is like going back in time. Unaffected by the pressures of commercialisation, the Caribbean island has progressed at a different rate than the tech-tastic world around it. But as Bob Dylan once said, the times, they are a-changing.
Look behind the classic cars and the crumbling colonial architecture, and it’s progressing at a rip-roaring rate, and now buoyed by the new president Miguel Díaz-Canel – the first non-Castro leader in 42 years. He inherits a country that’s already modernising. Areas formerly left derelict after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 have been restored to their former glory. And enterprising entrepreneurs are doing their bit too, thinking of interesting ways to add to the country’s charm.
If you’re planning on heading to Cuba, here are the Citybond team's recommendations for the newest delights.
Gran Hotel Manzana
Front and centre of the new Havana hotels is the Gran Hotel Manzana, a Kempinski hotel. It’s opposite Ernest Hemmingway’s former drinking den of El Floridita, a stone’s throw from the old town, and along the tourist hub of Parque Centrale. As the newest five-star in the capital it oozes refinement. In a country where luxury is hard to find, there’s no beating the rooftop infinity pool and (quite pricey) restaurant, with views overlooking the square and El Capitolio. The first floor also offers a gorgeous bar, with their Juliet balconies thrown open for guests enjoying a Cuba Libre or two.
Sagua La Grande
Deep in the province of Villa Clara, Sagua La Grande is the latest town to make itself prepared for global visitors who also like their creature comforts. Well known for its agriculture and industrial produce – as seen in a mural just off the town square - it’s benefitted from the opening of two international-standard hotels: the exquisite colonial-style Hotel Sagua la Grande, originally built in 1925, and the boutique El Palacio de Arena. Both are located around a revived town square. But those looking for a more authentic experience won’t have to walk far: an untouched version of the town radiates merely a block or two away from the centre.
Street art tour
The vibrant street art in the capital is a fitting reflection of Cuba’s creative air. That’s why tour agency Cloud 9 has added a street art tour to their offerings, which also include a mafia and a cigar tour. As well as the new works of street art, the half-day tour visits old favourites like Callejon de Hamel, a colourful installation of an alleyway, and Fusterlandia, a suburban homage to Gaudi’s Park Guell. The 13th edition of the Biennale takes place in November 2018, which makes it a perfect time for art lovers to visit.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
It’s not brand new, but the trendiness of Fábrica de Arte Cubano hasn’t subsided since it opened in 2014. That’s especially because it constantly reinvents itself; around 900 works of art which feature across its many performance and gallery spaces are switched out every four months, giving it a revived appeal to the locals that mingle with tourists in the warehouse compex. As well as a cool cocktail bar, it offers exhibitions, craft shops, a café, cinema screenings, talks and workshops. But it really comes alive after dark, when it turns into a nightclub with pumping music until the early hours – everything from electronic to salsa is covered.
In a country where rationing still exists, the fact remains that you don’t go to Cuba for the food. That’s especially the case in government-owned resorts like Varadero or Cayo Santa Maria. The best of what the country has to offer is generally found in the restaurants of Havana, like Mas Habana, a new New York-style industrial chic restaurant located in the heart of the old town, with a fusion tapas menu. The kitchen is run by artist-turned-chef Roberto Garriga. Try his Cuban twist on ceviche: pico de gallo served on a plantain basket, with a shrimp and wasabi top (3CUC, or £2), or its flavourful vegan salad (4CUC, or £3).
Travel insurance is mandatory if you travel to Cuba and you will be asked to present your insurance policy when you arrive into the country.
- Organise it well in advance.
- Make sure it covers the entire duration of your stay.
- Make sure the insurance is valid for Cuba - not all travel insurance providers cover Cuba as a destination, we do.
Wherever your travel plans take you this year it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
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