This may be the unpopular opinion -but my job in a post-hurricane situation is to communicate and confirm what the situation is in my territory. Mind you, my territory is not Cuba (and personally I would never want that territory EVER). However, as an emergency protocol all hands were on deck in my department to deal with resort/destination evaluations so I assisted with Cuba.PointsHubby wrote: ↑Oct 15th, 2017 12:22 pmI love these Hurricane topics, where folks determine that if it was not a direct hit it doesn't count.
These recent Hurricanes were HUGE (500 miles across) and POWERFUL (150+ MPH Winds) and brought tons of rain & severe storm surge. Just because a place wasn't within the eye-wall, does not mean there was not SEVERE damage / disruption vs how things were prior to the Hurricane(s).
Cuba is putting on a brave face... Cause like many other Non-US, British or French affiliated Islands in the Caribbean THEY HAVE TO... Tourism is literally their whole economy.
We have friends who live part time in Cuba... As well as a work buddy who just got back (he went cause he did not buy Travel Insurance). In both cases, reports are things are NOT NORMAL. Cuba was always a more rustic vacation experience especially so when it came to accommodations & food. Now it is more so, even in Havanna & the Resort Areas. Food variety is now even more wanting than before, and will be so for quite sometime as Hurricane Irma's wind & rain did not spare much of this island at all (a small area to the southeast & another to the northwest)... And so crops were wiped out.
There may be "just trees down" in areas like Varadero to the eye of the Tour Promoter (who has something to gain from painting a rosy picture) ... but the truth is the infrastructure has taken a huge blow... And it will take time to make a full come back
Cuba as you somewhat pointed out is a different beast all together. Not one tour operator/airline has perm staff living in Cuba FT like almost every other Caribbean/American or Mexican destination. From my understanding it's due to the citizenship/ work visa laws- I've never inquired exactly as to why. However, We do have staff there a few times a month.
As you know regardless of the banner carried in Cuba (Melia, Iberostar, Royalton/Memories or the RIU and Sandals attempts) the resorts are majority operated and controlled by the Cuban gov't. In other destinations when there have been major issues (maitenance, quality control) the chain can send whomever they want to THEIR resort to fix the situation. We do not have to rely on the local governments team to keep us informed. Elsewhere, if a resort is behind and is scheduled to re-open by a certain date the resort sends staff and supplies from other countries to meet a deadline. This is not the case in Cuba. There's no local Home Depot available to make an immediate repair. Supplies are scarce and imported.
True story: there was a resort in Varadero,Cuba (post-Irma) we were told that would be up and running by XX date. We (as in myself included) actually flew down to Cuba within a week of Irma's passing for resort evaluations. When we met with the GM of this resort there were at least 50 workers repairing the resort (who they claimed were resort staff ). We take photos to document this. We were assured by the GM this crew would work around the clock if need be to make the deadline. 1 day prior to the deadline comes and we are assured that all is well. That same day I'm emailed photos from a colleague still in Cuba but at another contracted property. Guess what? Same crew as my photos of the previous resort and these resorts are major competitors so no reason they would utilize same staff. We contact the GM of the resort I visited and asked for photos. No answer. Finally we get him on the line and I tell him to email me an official statement of receiving new guests he says his computer is down and will send it but they are back up and running for guests. We frantically send over one of my colleagues who was in destination to check the status of the resort and guess what? It was still a mess with excuse given that they are sharing man power with other resorts that need assistance! We immediately cancelled all our incoming reservations to this resort for a few weeks. I will not get into the contract stipulations that allowed us to get out of this but an "act of god" clause was ultimately the saving grace.
Last year there were water issues in Cayo Santa Maria. Same story- sent our staff down for evaluations. The resorts said it was a temporary situation to within hours telling us " it's fixed" but in reality it was not. Arguing with the Cuban government about cancelling ALL incoming bookings to the resorts affected until we were satisfied with the water issues. Problem was, the resorts already had the customers $ and were unwilling to refund us to refund the customer. So what happens? Passengers flying to resorts with ongoing water issues because according to the hotel its business as usual and the Canadians are just complaining.
^sorry for the long story but had to include details or it would not make sense.
My point is- from a business perspective Cuba is not the most profitable destination given the amount of headaches involved. And contrary to popular belief more harm is done by sending guests to a resort that is not up to Canadian standards then the ability to just refund passengers. Trust me, the airlines/TO do not want this reputation. Most people associate a bad resort with XYZ airline that brought them there. Does this happen in other countries? Yes but very very very rare. In other countries where resorts are independently owned and operated and not backed by the government have much more incentive to keep guests/tour operators happy