While our magazine is all about the interesting and exciting options available in Cuba, the majority of Canadians traveling there will stay in all inclusive resorts. And why not? Everything is taken care of for you with luxurious rooms, huge buffets, intimate restaurants, sunny days, and amazing beaches —sounds like a pretty good vacation to me.
Which Resort to Choose
Find a travel agent who specializes in Cuba or the Caribbean. There is a good chance that they have been to Cuba or have received first hand reports on the quality of the resorts that they sell. You can also do a search on the internet to read reviews by other vacationers.
While every resort in Cuba is good value compared to other Caribbean destinations, your choice will have to balance price with time of the year, quality of rooms, food, beverages, entertainment, and amenities. Generally, the newer resorts will have nicer rooms.
If you see two comparable resorts in the same area, the price difference will almost certainly be reflected in the quality and variety of food and beverages.
Also take note of whether your resort is family oriented, for couples, or welcomes singles. That will determine what the night life will be like.
What to Bring Down
For a list of personal items to bring with you, check out the "Travel Tips" column from Volume 3 of CubaPLUS, available on-line at www.cubaplusmagazine.com. Other than those items, you might consider a portable DVD player and some movies in case you have a rainy day. Cuban customs should allow these players in although you may have to register the equipment to ensure that you leave with it.
I suppose the only resort specific item you might want is a large insulated cup. Most resorts have tiny plastic cups so if you make a trip from the beach or the pool all the way to the outdoor bar, you will be rewarded with a tiny little drink. The insulated cup will mean colder drinks and fewer trips.
While the better resorts will give you a full complement of toiletries, some only provide small bars of soap, so you may want to bring a regular sized one and some shampoo.
Most resorts will have a main buffet and a few a Ia carte restaurants. When you check in, find out what the sign up procedures are for the various restaurants. There will probably be a dress code so skip the shorts and flip-ﬂops. Bring a change of nice clothes to lend some class to the evening.
Hotels in Cuba have a no tipping policy so that their clients don't feel obligated to tip to get good service. In fact, I have heard that some Europeans have complained about Canadians tipping and getting preferential service.
Whether you decide to stay in five star luxury or want to save some money and choose a more economic all inclusive option, you will have a great time in Cuba.