Discovering the quiet charm of Cuba’s Cayo Largo

with Martha Chapman

Team Cayo Coco hoteliers and our
luncheon hosts

Hola Sun president Juan Carlos Soto with Cuban consul Tania Lopez and the tourist board’s Eloy Govea

More charming Cuban hosts: Nieves Ricardo of the tourist board, Mayte Rosabal of Sol Cayo Largo, Karen Puebla, also with the tourist board, and Veronica Duenas of
Hola Sun

You know it’s a loyal crowd of agents when you get them to come out to a luncheon on a rainy summer Friday in Mississauga, Ont. Yet Hola Sun had no problem filling the room with Cuba fans when a delegation from
Cayo Largo came to call.

The sleepy island just south of Cuba is known for its 24 kms of sugary sand beaches and vacations bathed in relaxation. While reasonably-priced excursions by air can be arranged to Havana and Varadero, many tourists choose to chill (so to speak: all the beaches are clothing optional though you are welcome to stay as clothed as you wish). Apart from those famous beaches, the island boasts a turtle farm where visitors can aid in releasing baby turtles into the surf; an unusual iguana island; and a hop-on-hop off bus to tour the island. Not surprisingly, given the warm, crystal-clear waters, scuba diving and snorkelling are very popular, as long as you can drag yourself away from your beach-front palapa.

There’s no town per se, but the hoteliers have built a village to accommodate the staff of the various properties. Tourists are welcome to come to the twice-weekly night street parties and have a chance to socialize with the locals.

Red Tag agent Lucia Bitondo, who told me she has been going to Cuba for 35 year, says she loves the Cuban people for their kindness and hospitality. She recommends Cayo Largo as a complete getaway from it all, and also for the eco-tourist interested in sea life. “And,” she mentioned, “No hotel is further than 10 minutes from the airport. Clients love that.”

This year Hola Sun is featuring the Sol Cayo Largo, Hotel Pelicano, Iberostar Playa Blanca and Villa Iguana. The hotels all have EBBs, and clients can save as much as $380 per couple by booking early.
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