Future looks bright for Cuba’s Varadero Beach

USA Today:

VARADERO BEACH, Cuba — This 13-mile line of mainly all-inclusive resorts and dazzling stretches of white sand is a well-known budget destination for Canadians and Europeans. And, if travel regulations ever change, hoteliers are hoping for a wave of Americans.

The resort complexes on a skinny peninsula about 90 miles east of Havana are similar to those in Mexico’s Cancun/Riviera Maya area and the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana, though generally less lavish. Varadero —Cuba’s No. 1 beach destination — has more than four dozen lodgings and more than 17,000 rooms. The sea and sports are the lure, not genuine Cuban culture.

Developers planning new resorts are “getting ready for the U.S. market,” says Toronto-based hotel consultant Charles Suddaby. “The hotel capacity is not there yet … but I think Cuba can be a powerful force (among American vacationers) in the Caribbean.”

Cuba already is No. 2 in foreign air arrivals, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization: 2.3 million in 2008, behind the Dominican Republic’s nearly 4 million.

Canadians are the No. 1 single-country market for Varadero, but the much-closer USA, with masses of sun seekers, is viewed as a natural tourist source. Varadero has an airport, golf and is a quick flight from Miami.

“There’s overwhelming interest,” in Varadero and other Cuban areas, says Scott Berman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a top U.S. Cuba hotel analyst. “It’s a question of readiness” to handle what Cuban officials and hotel analysts say could be 1 million to 2 million Americans the first year of a lifted embargo.

Some of Varadero’s resorts have taken a beating in reviews on TripAdvisor.com for outdated rooms, so-so food and lackadaisical service. But its grander all-inclusives, such as the 490-room Meliá Varadero and the Blau Varadero Hotel, are on a drive to improve. They’re similar to other Caribbean all-inclusives and could appeal to Americans.

The Meliá Varadero, Cuba-owned and managed by Spain’s powerful Meliá chain, features a grand atrium, salsa lessons by the pool, nightly shows, a bar pianist playing the theme from LoveStory in addition to Besame Mucho, a fine-dining restaurant with string quartet and rooms with satellite TV typical of three- to four-star beach accommodation in the USA. You can stay for $120 a person a day this time of year — meals, activities and all-you-can-drink included. The food, mainly buffet fare, still could use upgrading, though.

Out on the beach, Cuban Rodolfo Carballosa, 32, and Italian bride Maila Maceratesi, 26, proclaim their bliss with their names and wedding date written in the sand. They met when she visited a resort where he waited on her. And he hopes for the day when U.S. tourists can freely sit at his tables, too.

Americans “want to change our government,” he says as the couple lunches on roast chicken and Cuban Buccaneer beer.

“Respect me, and I will respect you. If you want to be my friend, you don’t say, ‘You have to do this.’ You come here, and you will see peace. Maybe one day the president of the USA will change things.”

www.particularcuba.com – Hotel booking in Varadero

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About Particular Cuba
Particular Cuba organizes travel to Cuba. Hotel booking, car rental, package tours, excursions, flights to Cuba.

4 Responses to Future looks bright for Cuba’s Varadero Beach

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