Rod Mearing – Cuba (April 2018)

Many thanks to Travel With Jules for arranging another great holiday for us to Cuba (with Journey Latin America). Everything went smoothly and the various destinations fitted the bill perfectly. Sam saw at least 20 birds that were new to her, and found time to complete a few paintings.  Here are some highlights:

Being met air-side arriving into Cuba was a life saver! The fast transit through immigration and the collection of our luggage etc made it such a painless experience. I know from my business travels that some airports can be very confusing for a first time visitor, so this was a great way of entering Cuba.

Palacio Marques de San Felipe (Havana) – a nice hotel and brilliantly located. Overall I would trend this nearer to mid than upper-mid. On our second visit, the bath leaked a little from one corner – no great hardship, just meant dropping a towel on the floor to mop it up – and the hair dryer was not working. We forgot to tell them when checking out. However, on the plus side, all the staff were very friendly and helpful and the room was clean and tidy. One quirk (which we only met up with here but which may apply to all Cuban hotels), wi-fi cards purchased elsewhere will not work on the hotel’s own wi-fi. You have to purchase from them.

Iberostar Grand Hotel (Trinidad) –  definitely worth the five stars. Excellent service and a lovely hotel. A point to emphasise to other clients – keep some money handy for emergencies, or better still, pay with cash throughout so you keep track. We knew the hotel accepted credit cards so built up a small bill over the days…only to find their card connection had failed and they could only accept cash. The ATMs were getting mixed reports so I raided the fund I had put to one side. I’m sure that in a ‘fail on all fronts’ situation I could have rung JLA, but did not need to.

La Moka Ecolodge (Moka) I know this has mixed reports on Tripadvisor, but we found it lovely. A clean room with a few quirks…no privacy in the toilet area as it has a glass door and is open to the rest of the room, albeit to one side and through an arch. Beds were lovely and for those who enjoy nature, the location was lovely. Staff were friendly and the buffet breakfast was pretty good. They even had an omelette station which was unexpected. Personally, we felt this was upper-mid overall and we were very happy here. I know the buildings could use a little sprucing up and it was all built a little while ago…but then who heads to Cuba for modern luxury?!

Once again, many thanks for a fabulous tailor made holiday. (Northern Lights next!)