Travel

Cuba Cayo Santa Marie

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  • Nov 8th, 2017 4:31 pm
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Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2015
1099 posts
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Mississauga, ON
PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 15th, 2017 12:22 pm
I 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
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.

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
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Oct 25, 2009
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PointsHubby wrote:
Oct 15th, 2017 12:22 pm
Cuba is putting on a brave face... Tourism is literally their whole economy..
I have a bottle a rhum next to me that contradicts you. Cuba is a poor country, and would continue to be poor under capitalism and democracy. But it has a relatively diverse economy. Tourism is an important source of foreign currency, and they need it to buy food... from the USA. But foreign currency also arrives via remittances from family in the USA, foreign investments and rhum and tobacco sales. Their doctors for oil program isn’t working for them anymore, so tourism has recently gained importance.

But tourism in Cuba is hopelessly underdeveloped (4 million visitors) compared to say Florida (113 million annual visitors) or the city of Las Vegas (40 million).
Toronto is a very small part of Canada
[OP]
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Sunwing and Air Canada claim they had reps go down to Cuba and the resorts they sell are ready to go. Should be believe them?
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Dec 28, 2015
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Westmount, QC
antigua1999 wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 4:02 pm
Sunwing and Air Canada claim they had reps go down to Cuba and the resorts they sell are ready to go. Should be believe them?
Varadero, holguin no doubt ready to go I'm sure
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Feb 7, 2017
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The only parts of Cuba that escaped some of the worst was WEST of Havana and EAST of the Cuban Keys (the outer islands along the Northshore)? So yes Hoguin is fine.

Everywhere else got some damage from the Hurricane depending on how close they were to the eye.

As for who to beleve ...

Personally, I'll take the word of locals who are posting messages / info in various spots on the Internet (like the TripAdvsor Forums) over Tour Operators who want to sell off their 2017-18 Winter Season Alottments... Those folks are strictly out to put "bums in seats" on the aircraft. And when they have, they are the same folks who have a long & checkered past of being slow on compensation / refunds. Exect we'll hear more about such Tour Operators in the news as the Winter Season wears on.

Anyone going south this Winter truly needs to be DOING THEIR HOMEWORK BEFORE they lay down any CA$H ... Always good advice, but more so this year.

PS... Water & Electricity is still an issue in many Caribbean areas hit by Irma & Maria. Water Ceanliness is becoming a BIGGER ISSUE as time goes on and stuff is rotting. If one decides to go anyhow... Please consider getting a full compliment of Travel Vaccines & Meds. It could be the difference between health & contracting a potentially life threatening illness. For more info check out current Travel Advsories & Health Warnings.
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Jun 15, 2015
1099 posts
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Mississauga, ON
antigua1999 wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 4:02 pm
Sunwing and Air Canada claim they had reps go down to Cuba and the resorts they sell are ready to go. Should be believe them?
They all did. I was there- all the tour operators get the same run around from the resorts/Cuban gov and weren't taking chances this time.
[OP]
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BrunetteGirl wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 9:40 pm
They all did. I was there- all the tour operators get the same run around from the resorts/Cuban gov and weren't taking chances this time.
So does that mean believe them and go or stick to Mexico?
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antigua1999 wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 9:52 pm
So does that mean believe them and go or stick to Mexico?
I would choose Mexico any day over Cuba.

I don't see the allure of going to Cuba- yes, there's some nice beaches (but there are nice beaches all over the world) - Havana is interesting but more then once is overkill IMHO. If you are going there to sit on a resort all day I would go elsewhere.
[OP]
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Jun 11, 2005
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BrunetteGirl wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 10:23 pm
I would choose Mexico any day over Cuba.

I don't see the allure of going to Cuba- yes, there's some nice beaches (but there are nice beaches all over the world) - Havana is interesting but more then once is overkill IMHO. If you are going there to sit on a resort all day I would go elsewhere.
Thanks for the information. Which part of the world do you sell? Any recommendations?
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Oct 25, 2009
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BrunetteGirl wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 10:23 pm
I would choose Mexico any day over Cuba.

I don't see the allure of going to Cuba- yes, there's some nice beaches (but there are nice beaches all over the world) - Havana is interesting but more then once is overkill IMHO. If you are going there to sit on a resort all day I would go elsewhere.
??? I certainly don’t want to knock Mexico with its incredible Mayan history, excellent food, beaches and tequila, not to mention the many benefits of capitalism, but Cuba deserves to be experienced over and over.

Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Remedios aren’t as old as Mayan pyramids, but they are great historic colonial cities, easy to visit from Cayo Santa Maria. Santa Clara isn’t to shabby either and has a great square and quaint museums. As a caretaker explained to me, “when communism happened, we took all the beautiful objects rich people had and put them in this museum”. :)

Castro communism itself is worth experiencing. Certainly different from Canada (assuming you aren’t a civil servant).

Toronto is a very small part of Canada
Newbie
Apr 18, 2017
80 posts
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BrunetteGirl wrote:
Oct 22nd, 2017 10:23 pm
I would choose Mexico any day over Cuba.

I don't see the allure of going to Cuba- yes, there's some nice beaches (but there are nice beaches all over the world) - Havana is interesting but more then once is overkill IMHO. If you are going there to sit on a resort all day I would go elsewhere.
The biggest allure of Cuba to me, are the people.

A close second is the almost complete lack of advertising signs and branding. Until I get away from it for a while, it is hard to really appreciate just how powerfully pervasive and subliminally coercive the constant bombardment of marketing can be on ones psyche.

In Mexico, it feels like from the moment I get off the plane someone is trying to sell me something. Usually a time share.
Last edited by qman23 on Oct 24th, 2017 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2015
1099 posts
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Mississauga, ON
qman23 wrote:
Oct 24th, 2017 8:15 pm
The biggest allure of Cuba to me, are the people.

A close second is the almost complete lack of advertising signs and branding. Until I get away from it for a while, it is hard to really appreciate just how powerfully pervasive and subliminally coercive the constant bombardment of marketing can be on ones psyche.

In Mexico, it feels like from the moment I get off the plane someone is trying to sell me something. Usually a time share.
If you are visiting Cuba and want to travel the country and experience the culture, then yes Cuba is an experience that can only be had in Cuba.

Let's be realistic that the majority of people are not doing that. If the purpose of your trip is to fly and flop at an all inclusive resort- then ya Cuba is not the best choice for that and I don't see the allure (and the "amazing beaches" argument- well there's nice beaches all over the world). Cuba is cheap- and that is a draw for many people- but you get what you pay for.

My personal expectation; a 'fly and flop' vacation is at a resort with great food and drink & modern accommodations. That's where Cuba lacks (and I've had the opportunity to stay at the Parque Central Havana, Paradisus and recently the Royalton properties. No thanks).
Sr. Member
Feb 3, 2006
967 posts
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A friend of mine is thinking of booking an all inclusive in Cayo Santa Maria for March 2018.
This way he can get a vacation and see family in Caibarién.

Does anyone in the know (travel industry) have any info regarding resorts and how they have recovered??

cheers
Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2015
1099 posts
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Mississauga, ON
fogo wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:30 pm
A friend of mine is thinking of booking an all inclusive in Cayo Santa Maria for March 2018.
This way he can get a vacation and see family in Caibarién.

Does anyone in the know (travel industry) have any info regarding resorts and how they have recovered??

cheers
I would not worry about march 2018 it will be business as usual by then.
Deal Addict
Feb 7, 2017
1416 posts
753 upvotes
fogo wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:30 pm
A friend of mine is thinking of booking an all inclusive in Cayo Santa Maria for March 2018.
This way he can get a vacation and see family in Caibarién.

Does anyone in the know (travel industry) have any info regarding resorts and how they have recovered??

cheers
Forget the Travel Industry (they just want to put bums in seats, no matter the reality). You want REAL TIME info then chat with folks who actually live in the area. The TripAdvisor Forums have been a god-send this year with all the Hurricanes in the Eastern Caribbean. Check out posts on the TA Cayo Santa Maria Travel Forum.

And if you have a very specific question you can post it and get replies

This one thread in particular has good info, and a link to a local couple in Cayo Santa Maria with updates.

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g6 ... _Cuba.html

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