These historical buildings are not only of immense importance to the Cubans, but they are recognized as one of the greatest attractions in the Communist led nation, apart from miles and miles of pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and a warm and friendly people. Despite the ban on American citizens going to Cuba, an estimated 200,000 circumvented the prohibition in 1999 by traveling via Canada, Cancun, The Bahamas and Montego Bay, and although the figures for 2000 are not yet out, it will certainly be higher than the previous year.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said it was important to make "this incremental move" to lift the travel ban, imposed 40 years ago on the Communist ruled Island. The measure has to pass the Senate, which is not assured at this particular time. The measure to lift the travel ban passed the House 240-186, with 67 Republicans and 173 Democrats backing it. As expected, the move was met by an immediate rejection by the Bush administration. A White House announcement that it would not accept any easing of sanctions. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President George W. Bush will not support the new proposal, even though there is growing sentiment in Congress to offer Americans a chance to see Cuba for themselves, while some conservative Republicans argue that the ban amounts to an infringement on the right of U.S. citizens. Conservative Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, who sponsored the travel ban repeal in the House, said Americans should be free to travel wherever they want. "What we've done is to erect our own Berlin Wall, preventing the free travel of Americans. It's time to tear it down," said Rep. William Delahunt. Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque described the vote as "constituting a symbol, a proof of the majority feeling in U.S. society."
They consider the current policy irrational, unfair and senseless, and added "President Bush should understand he has been betting on a losing horse since the start of his administration."
The tourism industry, sensing the influx, which will follow the lifting of the ban, has already started a countrywide upgrading of present hotel and resort facilities, constructing new ones and providing additional rooms.
SuperClubs is among those Resorts, which already has a number of facilities and has announced plans to build new ones.
"The sky is the limit in Cuba as far as tourism is concerned," says Kees Aerts, General Manager of Breezes Costa Verde, the new SuperClubs Super-Inclusive Hotel located at Playa Pesquero, in the province of Holguin, and is jointly owned by the Government of Cuba and the Italian Gaviota Group. The resort was opened on February 1, 2001. Catering for couples, families and singles, the resort has 480 rooms divided into 31 two-story buildings.
Situated on the N.E. coast of Cuba, 50 miles from the Frank Pais International Airport in Holguin, Costa Verde is surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside, set in 35,000 square meters of exuberant vegetation. Food and beverages outlets are on an around-the-clock basis. Costa Verde has a buffet restaurant, Italian and Japanese a la carte restaurants, a pool restaurant, and a grill. In addition, there is room service for continental breakfast and seven bars with international brand cocktails. There are three fresh water swimming pools and Jacuzzis, land based sports, and water sports, including scuba diving. There is also a Kids Club, a fitness center, and facilities for groups, live entertainment and a nightclub.
The Japanese Restaurant, Manahana, is the first in Cuba, offering Teppanyaki. The Japanese Chef, Mareiano Takinami is proud of the excellent reviews he has received, being the first Japanese restaurant with sushi and Teppan-Yaki tables. The staff comprises professionals from Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the Philippines, Peru and Cuba.
Playo Pesquero, with its beautiful beach stretching for more than two kilometers, is located on one of the most untouched areas of the region. Holguin is also known for its natural parks, waterfalls and dams, natural springs and mud baths, fishing, water and hunting zones, caves and bays, 41 white sand beaches, beautiful underwater sites and 60 places of cultural interest. SuperClubs in Cuba also manages the hotels Breezes Varadero, (formerly Club Varadero), SuperClubs Puntarena, in Varadero, and Breezes Jibacoa, between Havana and Varadero.
Other Projects In Cuba
"We have a lot of advantages for the traveler. We are a family hotel; kids under 14 years are free. In addition there is a big promotion for honeymooners, and our rate is the best, one third the rate of other resorts abroad," he said. Aerts, who is from Holland, has more than eight years experience working in Cuba. He noted that "Cuba has changed over the years. It opened its borders and has invited the world to see the Cuban Cultural Revolution, see the political system and the human potential as a result of free education, free health, free housing and a system that has made Cuba one of the most secure countries in Latin America, North America and Europe."
The hotel has five bars, two restaurants, a café and a grill. One of the restaurants offers international buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other offers Mediterranean cuisine, dinner only, by reservation.
The other property managed by SuperClubs is SuperClub Puntarena, located on its own peninsula. It is situated at the entrance of the larger, famous Varadero Peninsula on Cuba's north coast. Its unique location provides virtual privacy for guests on its 1,000-meter long beach. One hundred and fifty kilometers from the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, the property is spread out on 40 acres, with twin towers, Paradiso and Puntarena. Both towers are linked by shared facilities, with the largest free form pool in Varadero.
Offering 532 rooms with either an ocean or marina view, Puntarena is ideally located for honeymooners and young couples. and offers six dining options, seven bars and an ice cream parlor. Among the restaurants are two buffets, one in each tower, with a Mediterranean and an Oriental a la carte theme.
The tourism industry has come far from the 90's, and given the entrepreneurship and professionalism by those involved in the many aspects of operations - the industry seems headed for a bright future. Many of the staff at the various resorts are fluent in German, Italian, French, English, and of course. Spanish.
The Cuba today is not what it was reported to be years ago. It is becoming a vibrant society, with world-class hotels, highly trained individuals, ample transportation and communications, and an affable society.
By Edwin Ali, Caribbean Editor, Jetsettrs Magazine.
Jetsetters' Notebook: The Jamaican Sandals resort hotel chain is also planning to build properties in Cuba.