Iberostar, Melia Hotels to Host U.S. Clients in Cuba

Tour operators Globus and Abercrombie & Kent announced this week that they will soon be offering approved tours to Cuba from the U.S. and Travel Agent got the skinny on the hotels both companies will be using.

Mike Schields, Globus’ director of group sales and emerging markets, says Globus will be using the Melia Habana, which is located in the heart of Miramar, the new business center of Havana. Right next to the popular Fifth Avenue, the resort is 10 minutes from the historic city center, 15 minutes from the José Martí International Airport and five minutes from the Congress and Convention Center.

“This hotel was just great when we saw it,” Schields says. “It really had the kind of service and amenities you would need to have a great stay anywhere.”

Richard Harris, senior vice president of operations for Abercromie & Kent, told Travel Agent his company went with the 40-room Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad in the countryside town of Trinidad. Trinidad is a town in the province of Sancti Spíritus, which is located in central Cuba.

“We just felt like this was one of the few hotels we saw that really met Abercrombie & Kent’s standards,” Harris told us.

Also, in Havana, Harrris says Abercrombie & Kent will be going with the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba, which is perhaps Havana’s most popular hotel. The property in downtown Havana, close to some great Havana restaurants and bars, has 457 rooms, 15 suites, and a Presidential Suite.

Abercrombie & Kent announced Tuesday that it would begin offering adventures to Cuba beginning in September through the People to People education program. The news comes on the heels of Insight Cuba’s announcement that it was reauthorized by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to send Americans to Cuba.

In September, Abercrombie & Kent will offer Cuba: The Forbidden Isle Revealed. Working with a registered not-for-profit group, the operator has created an itinerary that aims to reveal the heart and soul of this island nation. Clients can walk the cobblestone streets of Old Havana, savor the beauty of Trinidad, meet families in culture-rich Matanzas and experience Hemingway's Cuba with a visit to Finca Vigia, his seaside home.

The People to People education program is an initiative that requires Americans to take part in various cultural experiences in Cuba, essentially, as the name implies, putting them in direct contact with the people of Cuba with hopes of learning about the way of life in the country. It was implemented by President Clinton in 1999 and suspended by President Bush in 2004 before President Obama resurrected the program this January.

Globus will begin sending U.S. clients to Cuba in 2012 on religious tours approved by the Center for Caribbean Religion and Culture, Travel Agent learned that it could also be preparing additional itineraries through the People to People educational travel program “very soon,” according to Mike Schields, Globus’ director of group sales and emerging markets.

Visit www.globusjourneys.com and www.abercrombiekent.com.

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