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 Noah Labowe.
Trinidad & Back to Havana
Our last morning in Trinidad was spent visiting the Ancon Resort on the beaches of Trinidad. The resort is 3 Stars, but enjoys its position when being pitted against other 5 Star resorts across the island. With just over 300 rooms, Ancon has between 130-300 employees depending on seasonality. Currently, the property has between 100-102% occupancy—often sending tour guides and drivers back to the town of Trinidad to stay for the evenings.
One unique aspect of Ancon was that they offer a 25 CUC (the Cuban currency for tourists) day pass to be able to enjoy all of the all-inclusive amenities on the property. This day pass is very popular during low seasons, especially with local Cubans, and helps offset and lower occupancy rates.
After touring and meeting with management, we had the opportunity to compare the amenities of the Ancon with those of Varadero Resorts. I opted to play tennis and a game of chess with our tour guide, Yvet.
Following some time in the sun, we ate lunch and then hit the road for a 5 hour drive back to Havana. Roads outside of the cities of Cuba are never crowded and offer a serene moment to reflect. Though they may bumpy at time, the lack of traffic offerings some refreshing downtime while listening to Yvet teach us about the endemic species of Cuba.
Once back in Havana, we had our final dinner at Café Laurent, a Paladar (or private restaurant) located on the top of an apartment complex.
The meal was served in typical Cuban Paladar style—welcome beverage, soup, appetizer, national drink, main course (either pork, lobster & shrimp, lamb, or fish), and then dessert with Cuban Espresso. Professor Diaz from the University of Havana joined us for our meal as we reflected on our last 9 days in a such a beautiful country.
All in all, I found my time in Cuba to be incredible. By virtue of living in the States, there are certain pre-conceived notions of the word that you just accept as truths. Traveling allows you to challenge these truths and that is exactly what happened while studying Tourism in Cuba. I went to understanding how the hotels & resorts functioned, but ended up learning about the people—the love their share for each other, their country, & their culture. No, Cuba is not perfect, but is any country? The fact of the matter is that Cubans know this, but still fight for each other everyday all while enjoying their free eduction and healthcare. Cuba te amo. Hasta luego!