Heading into the winter season, Hola Sun Holidays, the tour operator specializing in Cuban holidays, says it’s going to keep its current partnership with Air Transat through October 2020.
With this partnership, guests of Hola Sun Holidays can enjoy one checked piece of luggage plus one carry-on luggage (Economy class), seat selection ($) and Option Plus ($) up to 24 hours before departure, and free seat selection and boarding priority for families with kids.
The Cuba specialist recently held an event in Ajax to showcase highlights of its latest brochure. Following events in Toronto and Barrie, this event concluded the tour operator’s product launch in Ontario. Besides a standard week-long holiday, guests who go with Hola Sun Holidays can expect to enjoy site excursions to lesser-known parts of Cuba, participation in various cultural events, and guaranteed departures on all arranged activities.
This year, more than 185 hotels in 12 destinations throughout Cuba are on offer, in cities which include Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Cruz, Holguin, Santa Lucia, Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Varadero, and Havana.
For your clients who are looking for a more culturally-enriched holiday that goes beyond the beach, Hugo Rocha, sales director, Hola Sun Holidays, recommends a visit to Camaguey, which is full of historical churches and museums and colourful Colonial houses, or Santiago de Cuba, located in eastern Cuba, which always has some sort of festival going on.
“These destinations aren’t as saturated as the rest of Cuba’s beach destinations,” Rocha explained. “You can also do a side trip to Cienfuegos, which is very French due to its colonization, and Trinidad in the same day and enjoy two different cities with different tastes.”
Speaking out in regards to the rumors that continue to circulate surrounding a fuel shortage in Cuba, Rocha says it’s nothing to worry about, as tourism isn’t affected in the slightest.
“For us, it’s business as usual because as the Minister says, tourism is being prioritized,” Rocha explained. “During one week, some tours were consolidated; our excursion to Havana, for example, was combined with another excursion, but it wasn’t cancelled. As for the hotels, the rumors are unfounded. Every September and October in Cayo Largo, the hotels close and they undergo renovation in preparation for the winter season and it’s the same for hotels in Holguin. We believe this is good for the market because these hotels are able to take advantage of the low season and prepare for a busy winter season.”
Local stays & local flavours
With a nod toward a growing trend, Hola Sun’s 2019-20 brochure will feature the option of staying in private residences or casas particularles, which will be available in several destinations including Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Vinales. Centrally located, these accommodations feature standard rooms with either private or shared bathrooms, along with the option of daily breakfast and dinner for an extra charge.
Travellers looking to explore beyond the resort can enjoy a selection of new escorted bus tours that range from seven to 14 nights, geared toward points of interest ranging from history and culture to beaches and eco-tours. There are also optional hotel accommodations included.
And catering to a growing interest in exploring Cuba’s major urban centres, the brochure will also include Sun & City combination itineraries, where travellers begin their vacation with three nights in a city hotel and spend the remainder of their trip at a beach resort. Combinations include Havana and Varadero, along with Santiago de Cuba and Holguin.
“A lot of the boutique hotels are breakfast only, but that’s where the casa particuleres are a great option,” Rocha said. “People can stay and rent a room for one or two days, and the owner can arrange some great meal options.”
If you’ve got clients who are looking for a more authentic experience and a way to truly meet the locals, Rocha insists this is the best option, because the owners usually live in the same space, or right next door.
Several of Hola Sun’s hotel partners also presented updates at the event. Some notable updates include:
- The MGM Gran Muthu Rainbow, a five-star property geared toward the LGBT travel market, will open in Playa Playuelas in December;
- The all-inclusive Be Live Collection Cayo Santa Maria opens this month, offering 846 rooms;
- Melia Cuba’s Sol Varadero Beach opens in November and as of Nov. 1, the rooms at Paradisus Varadero will be completely renovated. Sol Cayo Santa Maria is also currently under renovation and will reopen under the tentative name Sol Beach Club;
- The 546-room, adults-only Hotel Valentin Cayo Cruz is set to welcome its first guests this winter.
Agent Loyalty Program
Hola Sun also mentioned that it would keep its agent loyalty program.
Travel agents can look forward to the following with Hola Sun:
- Earn $10 per travelled passenger to be used for future travel with Hola Sun HOlidays
- Valid for travelled passengers from May 1, 2017 onwards
- Redemption period up to 900 days after the passenger has travelled
- Applicable only to air only and package products
- No blackout periods
A series of special promos are also ongoing, including Fiesta Fridays, and Hola100, which saves up to $100 per adult.
For more information on the latest brochure, travel agents can click here.
Originally published by: Christine Hogg, PAX Global Media