Thinking of saying ‘hola’ to the sun?

New resorts will be opening in Cuba for the winter/spring 2021 season, and old favourites continue to welcome guests with new protocols to protect travellers.

To heck with the sugar plums. When icy winds blow, Canadians dream of sugary sand beaches and turquoise waters.

The good news: according to Hugo Rocha, sales director for Cuba travel specialist Hola Sun Holidays, there’s no reason to balk at a warm weather vacation in sunny Cuba. The jewel of a Caribbean island is set to safely handle the influx of travellers escaping winter.

A number of brand-spanking new resorts will open in Cuba this winter/spring 2021, and old favourites continue to operate at 50 to 60 percent of normal capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, says Rocha.

And travellers will have the choice of more direct flights to Cuba and better flight times this year, thanks to a new partnership between Hola Sun and Quebec-based airline OWG. “We will have four flights a week from Toronto and flight times between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.,” Rocha says. “That’s when everyone wants to travel.”

Safety first. Cuba has low numbers of COVID-19 cases, says Rocha. But, to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, new protocols aim to protect travellers from the moment they embark for the island to the time they set foot back in Canada.

Travellers get a temperature-check and a free COVID-19 test right in the airport, with results forthcoming in 48 hours. “Clients must wear a mask and maintain social distancing until then,” says Rocha. “But if the test is negative, a mask is no longer required.”

Resort and airline staff members also adhere to strict protocols emphasizing disinfection and sanitization. And each resort employs a medical team including a doctor, nurse and epidemiology specialist.  Still worried? As Rocha points out, Hola Sun recently sweetened the pot by including up to $200,000 worth of COVID-19 coverage with every package vacation or flight it sells. “We really wanted to be able to give our clients that peace of mind,” he says.

Hola sun offers a travel protection plan that allows travellers to cancel their trip up to three days prior to departure, no questions asked. The traveller will receive a future travel voucher from Hola Sun valid for 11 months from the time of cancellation; visit the website for more details.

From long stays to family fun. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely long-stay vacation on the beach or a shorter holiday with family in tow, Hola Sun offers a host of possibilities in 11 different destinations including Cayo Largo, Cayo Santa Maria, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, Havana, Holguin, Santa Lucia, Santiago de Cuba and Varadero.

“So many Canadians go to Cuba for a month or longer,” points out Rocha. “That is not affordable in most Caribbean locations.” Popular Cuban hotels for long stays include Varadero’s Melia Internacional (with nearby golf course and excellent internet connectivity for virtual nomads); Club Amigo Caracol in Santa Lucia (great for deep sea fishing) and Cienfuego’s Hola Club Rancho Luna (which attracts one of the highest repeat clientele in Cuba).

Think a month is out of reach? Consider this: 28 days at many Cuban resorts ring in at less than $3,000 and you’ll get discounts for early bookings.

Those seeking shorter getaways with family or friends, will find plenty of options too. Popular family resorts such as Grand Memories Cayo Santa Maria, Playa Costa Verde and Grand Muthu Cayo Gillermo offer kids clubs, children’s pools and activities from tennis to beach volleyball, billiards, ping pong and paddle boating. Depending on the resort and their ages, kids may even stay free.

Finally, for those who love the idea of breaking in a spanking new resort, Cuba launched seven new properties winter/spring 2021, including Iberostar Selection Esmeralda in Cayo Cruz (offering a water park for the kids); Melia Trinidad Peninsula (on the beach, just 10 minutes from the stunning colonial city of Trinidad de Cuba); and Cayo Guillermo Resort Kempinski (with individual cabins on stilts over the water). Visit Hola Sun to learn more.

“Ultimately,” says Sabrena Dayle, inside sales coordinator for Hola Sun Holidays, “there’s an amazing property to suit just about everyone in Cuba.”

As originally published by the Toronto Star.

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