The following Cuba series was written by students enrolled in Independent Study: Cuban Hospitality and Tourism Industries, a one-week intensive course taking place in Cuba over the 2016 Spring Break. As a course assignment, students were required to submit blog posts to the Tisch Center Blog highlighting each day of the trip. The following post was written by Elizabeth Kim.
Varadero – Sun, Sea, & Sand
For many Americans, when they think of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, they think of places like Nassau or Punta Cana. Maybe it’s a lack of publicity, or maybe it’s the US-Cuba Embargo, but Varadero, Cuba consists of 10’s of all-inclusive resorts that rival the amenities of the rest of their Caribbean counterparts and the services of a New York City Hotel. On Wednesday, 3/16, we had the opportunity to visit Meliá Varadero, Blau Varadero, & Royalton Hicacos Varadero.
Across the board, the resorts looked right out of a magazine—picture perfect views of crystal blue water from every corner of the properties. Meliá & Royalton are both 5 Star Resorts, but Blau is only a 4 Star—Blau does this as a marketing move as to outperform expectations from their guests. No matter the resort, all suffer from the same problem: supplies. The embargo as affected everyone in Cuba, but may hit resorts and the tourist sector the hardest. Ordering supplies for Christmas events needs to be done in May to ensure they arrive. Daily supplies that we hoteliers in NYC just expect to have may or may not be in stock. A Cuban hotelier has to be thrifty and creative when attacking the problems they face everyday.
Regardless of the difficulties these resorts face, they all boast occupancy rates of over 90% throughout the entire year—even during the low seasons! Amenities at these places include butler service, all you can eat/drink, water aerobics to the tune of LMFAO, and much much more. All in all, I cannot wait for my return to Cuba simply to experience the service at the Royalton again.
After spending the majority of the day touring properties and meeting management, we had the opportunity to sample some of the amenities ourselves. As an avid SCUBA diver, i wanted to compare experiences, so I met with a Cuban dive master and discussed his work. All in all, not my favorite dive, but definitely one of the most memorable.
The day concluded with a picture-perfect sunset over the water and dinner all together and one of our resort’s restaurants.