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Varadero Archives - Air Canada Vacations

25 Jul

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Meet Miguel – ACV Varadero Rep

July 25, 2016 | By |

From travel tips to local recommendations, get the skinny from someone who knows Varadero best.

Miguel - Varadero rep

1. Name
Miguel

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2015

3. What do you love most about your job?
What I like most is the challenge to overcome any issue related to Customer Relations. The fact that one can learn something new every day from all kinds of different people and no single day, week, or month is the same, makes this job a very motivating one.

 4. How is Varadero different from Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, and Havana?
Varadero has more infrastructure than the other beach destinations in Cuba (Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco); we have 3 malls, many markets, a big number of night clubs, restaurants and bars, and a golf club. Havana is the top tourist destination in Cuba and it’s the ideal destination to experience city life, but not the beach. The beaches there are not comparable to the ones in Varadero. As Varadero is located only 140 km from Havana, it’s really the best choice for those who want to experience a little bit of everything: sun, beach, city and a local town’s real life.

 5. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
Varadero is the closest destination to Havana, the capital city of Cuba; it takes only 2 hours by car or by bus. If one selects any other beach destination (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, or Holguin), the only way to have a round trip to Havana in 1 day would be by plane.

 6. Describe your perfect day in Varadero.
I would spend the day with my family, going first to the dolphin aquarium, followed by a swim in the ocean. Afterwards, we’d eat grilled fish and we’d end the day by taking jet ski rides.

 7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
The best dish you can try in Varadero is lobster at Varadero 60.

 8. Where is your favorite spot to watch the sunset?
Any beach in Varadero is good for watching the sunset, but at Mansion Xanadu Terrace, it is unbelievable.

 9. Could you please teach us a few local expressions?

  • Una cerveza por favor. One beer please.
  • Cuanto cuesta ir hasta _________? How much is it to go to…?
  • Podria decirme donde se encuentra_________? Could you tell me where I can find…?

10. In your opinion, what is a must-do in Varadero?
Visitors should not miss the chance to enjoy a concert by Buena Vista Social Club. They perform once a week and it’s a unique opportunity to hear traditional Cuban music played by the absolute best.

 11. In your opinion, what is the best beach and why?
In my opinion, the best beach spot stretches from the Barcelo Solymar resort to the Sol Sirenas Coral hotel. The beach dune, here, is the biggest and the cleanest of all the peninsula. No rocks on the beach are seen in this area.

 12. Any tips for first-time travelers to Cuba?
Cuba is the safest destination in the Caribbean, but valuables still should not be taken outside unnecessarily. Don’t leave the hotel without bottled water, sun block and toilet paper. Do not rent scooters that are not covered by insurance and if possible, don’t rent a car if you don’t know the area since we have a shortage of signs and roads are not in the best condition.

05 Jul

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Meet Katerina – ACV Varadero Rep

July 5, 2016 | By |

Get the skinny on Varadero from someone who knows it best – our on-site destination rep, Katerina!

Katia (1) resized

1. Name
Katerina

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2014.

3. What does your role involve?
Be available to try and help the customer in whatever they might need. Give information briefings, provide assistance and offer tour info.

4. What do you love most about your job?
Meeting and helping different people every day.

5. Describe Varadero in 3 words.
Relax, safe and fun.

6. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
16 km of white sand and amazing blue water.

7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
Grilled lobster at Varadero ’60.

8. Where is your favourite spot to watch the sunset?
At the Varadero Golf Club.

9. What is a must-do?
The Crucero del Sol excursion – it’s a full day trip by catamaran with open bar, seafood for lunch, dolphin encounters, snorkelling, and a visit to the beautiful island Cayo Blanco.

10. Where is the best beach?
Downtown, by the Barcelo Solymar hotel and near the Aguas Azules resort. Those are places where you can find really white sand and large beach areas.

20 Apr

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Cuba with the kids

April 20, 2016 | By |

Cuba with the kids is one of the best choices you’ll ever make: tons of activities, warm, calm waters, and resorts for every style.

Havana

The largest city in the Caribbean welcomes you with rich heritage, glorious colonial architecture and a lively atmosphere of love, music and life. Be sure to wander the streets of Old Havana, a fascinating World Heritage Site.

With the Kids: Lenin Park

Inaugurated by Fidel Castro in 1973, this sprawling park makes for a great day for the family with an amusement park, an aquarium, pools and lots more.

Choose from 20 hotels & resorts

Holguin

Christopher Columbus called this area “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen.” Explore pristine reefs, spectacular beaches, rolling hills and a provincial capital full of life and history.

With the Kids: Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park

A beautiful natural aquarium lets you swim with dolphins and watch trained sea lions. Be sure to enjoy some great home cooking, the mini-zoo and the lovely nature trails.

Choose from 10 resorts

Varadero

One of the world’s greatest beaches! Glistening white sands stretch on forever, touched by turquoise waters and cool breezes. Here, you’ll find lots of family-friendly resorts and activities for everyone.

With the Kids: Boca de Guamà Crocodile Farm

Cuba’s largest crocodile farm is great fun for everyone, offering a unique experience of these incredible animals in a facility that has saved two species from extinction.

Choose from 33 resorts

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Ringed by the whitest, softest beaches you’ve ever seen, this pristine island is a vacation paradise. Spend your time relaxing on the beach, dining at your stylish resort or exploring the wonderful natural world.

With the Kids: Swim with Dolphins

At the Dolphinarium Cayo Santa Maria you get to swim, interact and have your picture taken with these graceful animals. Now, that’s a pretty great childhood memory.

Choose from 11 resorts

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

Tucked away in the brilliant King’s Gardens (Jardines del Rey) archipelago, these two islands offer a getaway full of white-sand beaches, great resorts, watersports, pristine nature and lots of family fun.

With the Kids: Catamaran Tour

For a new perspective, take to the water onboard a smooth-sailing catamaran. Many tours include snorkelling and lunch, so you can make a day of it.

Choose from 12 resorts

20 Apr

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Sabrina is in the Know

April 20, 2016 | By |

Sabrina Brassard is the Air Canada Vacations Destination Supervisor in Varadero, Cuba. She’s the one that makes sure your vacation is full of all the things you want to see and do. She tells us why she has the best job and why you’ll love Cuba.

What makes this the best job?

This is the best job because it’s different every day; I’m always learning something new. We have an amazing team of destination representatives who love what they do. We all feel great when we help our guests have the best time on vacation.

What do you like most about Varadero? Cuba?

Varadero is an all-in-one kind of place. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches and then go out in downtown Varadero. And you are close to Havana. What’s great about Cuba is that the local people are really welcoming and there’s so much history and culture.

Why will families love this destination?

Almost every hotel has dedicated services for children. Off the resort, there are lots of tours and activities that are fun for kids. And Varadero is very safe.

What’s special for couples, friends or groups?

Lots of our hotels have special packages for honeymooners. For groups, you can book private excursions and activities, and most hotels are open to organizing special group events.

One place we all have to visit?

The Rancho Cangrejo Dolphinarium. It’s in the middle of the Atlantic and you can only get there by boat. All the dolphins were either rescued or born there which makes it extra special.

One thing we all have to try?

A catamaran cruise. You’ll get to go snorkelling, visit a beautiful beach and enjoy a delicious seafood lunch.

24 Jul

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Cuba’s 7 Best Beaches

July 24, 2015 | By |

The island of Cuba has some 300 beaches spread across 600 km, so choosing the best is no mean feat. How white is the sand? How soft? How turquoise and clear is the water? And what are the options if you’re looking for something a little more energetic than napping in the sun? These are our 7 favourites, but Cuba averages 330 days of sunshine a year, so you have plenty of time to explore.

1) Varadero

Varadero beach

Probably the most famous beach of all, Varadero’s soft, white sand stretches an incredible 20 km. It’s well developed so you’ll find lots of activities, watersports, and all-inclusive resorts offering stress-free vacations. Off the beach you’ll find intriguing caves and a chain of offshore islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. You’re also only 140 km from Havana, which means you can easily spend a few days in the historic capital. The streets and fortifications of Old Havana are a World Heritage site and well worth a visit.

2) Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo

Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo beach

Ernest Hemingway was enchanted by the towering dunes of Playa Pilar in the gorgeous Jardines del Rey archipelago. In fact, this area was the inspiration for parts of his book Islands in the Stream. Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, tiny islands joined to the mainland by a causeway, have immaculate beaches with excellent diving, snorkelling and tons of watersports. Playa Pilar is well known as the most beautiful of them all for its perfect white sand, swaying palms and warm clear waters. There may not be much traditional Cuban culture here, but you will definitely enjoy the mojitos and piña coladas.

3) Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco

Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco beach

This undeveloped beach on Cayo Coco will feel like your own little secret of white sand, and turquoise water. Cayo Coco is Cuba’s fourth largest island and has nine beaches over 22 km. There’s rich, indigenous vegetation here and over 150 different species of bird, including the graceful flamingo, hence the name of the beach.

4) Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

These protected crescents of soft, warm sand are located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos in La Cayería del Norte. The land here drops off very slowly allowing you to wade out to 90 m or more in crystal clear waters. As an added attraction, the sea is calm here all year round, so there are no worries about getting red flag days (no swimming). Both beaches are incredibly beautiful, but Playa Ensenachos is closer to the resorts, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little more upbeat. Playa Megano is more removed and is the spot if you’re looking for relaxation.

5) Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria

Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria beach

Cayo Santa Maria is part of a vacation area of three islets (cayos): Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas (a.k.a Los Cayos de Villa Clara), all of which are part of the UNESCO-recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. There is great diving and snorkelling here as well as bird watching, especially on the south coast of Santa Maria, which is dominated by salt marshes and mangroves. Playa Periquillo is a low-lying crescent of white sand and warm water. The shallow waters are great for bonefishing and long, sun-filled walks. Further out are coral reefs and a wreck perfect for diving.

6) Guardalavaca, HolguinGuardalavaca, Holguin beach

Holguin is Cuba’s most attractive resort area. The beaches of white sand and clear water stretch forever, occasionally interrupted by secluded coves and some elegant resorts. The town is quite charming and history buffs will enjoy some of the island’s best pre-Columbian archeological sites. As to the name of this area, it does mean “guard the cow,” a possible malapropism of guarda la barca, “guard the ship.” This area was once a frequent target of pirates. The name, then, would be a call to arms.

7) Playa Paraíso, Cayo Largo del SurPlaya Paraíso, Cayo Largo del Sur beach

Playa Paraíso is the most outstanding of all the beaches on this secluded islet. There are no permanent residents on Cayo Largo, which means it’s very quiet, calm and undisturbed. There’s a thriving coral reef, lots of wildlife including iguanas, and beaches for days. On Playa Paraíso (literally paradise beach) there’s a beachside restaurant and not much else, which is really what it’s all about.

Is one of these beaches calling your name? For more information or to start planning your Cuban getaway, check out our Cuba travel page.

29 Jun

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3 Sunny Summer Escapes

June 29, 2015 | By |

Envisioning a summer escape that involves sun and sand? All you need are your sunglasses, sunscreen and swimsuit and you’re ready for a vacation down south (and the perfect tan). Here are 3 sunny escapes to consider for your summer vacation.

1) Diving Escape at Cozumel Palace – Mexico

Cozumel Palace Mexico

The island of Cozumel, just off the coast of Playa del Carmen, is an excellent place for a fun and relaxing getaway. The Cozumel Palace has the facilities, setting and staff to offer an unforgettable stay. Begin your escape with a spa treatment – we recommend the Pul Yah Ceremony, which will put your mind and body at ease for the remainder of your vacation. Next, get ready to explore the fascinating coral reefs surrounding the resort. You have 2 options: snorkelling for beginners or scuba diving for more seasoned divers.

The ecosystem on the coast of Cozumel is particularly beautiful, thanks to the mild Gulf Stream that allows for ideal diving conditions. The hardest part is choosing which reef to explore, because they are all different and stunning. Another advantage to staying at the Cozumel Palace is that you have access to all hotels in the hotel chain (6 to be exact)! You stay at one, but can enjoy the restaurants and amenities of all hotels within the resort. That’s excellent news if you’re planning a few leisurely strolls around the grounds.

2) Family Escape at IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach – Jamaica

Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Montego Bay

In addition to its superb setting overlooking a sandy beach in Montego Bay, the IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach offers lots of opportunities for family fun with its wide-ranging facilities for all ages. The little ones can play at the kids club, a hub for adventure. Meanwhile, parents can have peace of mind knowing that activities are supervised by certified animators. Relaxing at the spa or on a lounge chair by the pool or beach are all the more reason to unwind.

For those who prefer to maximize their time with the little ones, there is no shortage of activities to be had as a family: among options are catamaran cruises, tennis, kayaking and dance classes for those who have rhythm (and even for those who don’t). The best part about this resort? Kids stay and eat free.

3) Warm Escape at Breezes Varadero – Cuba

Breezes Varadero

Cuba is largely known for its friendly locals and joie de vivre. And Varadero is no exception, especially at the Breezes Varadero. From the reception staff and animators, to the waiters and management, the staff is excellent. Helpful and friendly, hotel employees flash you a smile at any time of day. Speaking of smiles, we bet you’ll also have one ear to ear when you savour a dish at El Mojito, one of the hotel’s restaurants. Named after the iconic Cuban cocktail, this restaurant showcases typical Cuban flavours.

One of the highlights of this hotel is the beach. Though all beaches in Cuba are breathtaking, this one is particularly stunning with its pristine, white sand and clear water with hints of turquoise and deep blue fading into the horizon. And the wooden huts only add to the charm of the beach. For those who would rather take a nap in the shade, there are several hammocks around the property – now, that’s what we call a proper escape.

 

Tempting, isn’t it? You can probably already picture yourself on the beach, cocktail in hand. What are you waiting for? Escape to sun and sand! Make sure to also check out our last-minute deals – you won’t want to miss these!

 

26 Jun

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The true Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Some things in Cuba are so classic they never go out of style and really should be part of every trip.

Endless beaches

With 330 days of sunshine every year and more than 500 km of soft sand spread across 400 beaches, Cuba has earned its reputation for some of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy lots of watersports, relaxation and fun in the sun. Kids will love it too because most of the beaches are sheltered, calm and warm.

Eco-tourism

With about 25% of the island protected either as National Parks or Nature Reserves, there is a growing trend for getting out and exploring. Try hiking, trekking, cycling, horseback riding, caving and cave diving, bird watching, or nature photography—whatever will inspire you and get you feeling connected.

Classic cars

An estimated 60,000 vintage cars are still in Cuba. As a proof of the ingenuity of the Cuban people, since no new parts have been shipped to Cuba since the early 60s, they either manufacture their own replacement parts or repurpose parts from older Soviet vehicles to keep them running. The cars are beautiful labours of love.

Timeless music & culture

The warmth and charm of the Cuban people is alive in their music. The rhythms of Son Mambo and Cha Cha Cha are celebrated and shared. So too is the architecture, faith, art, literature and cuisine—all a fusion of indigenous, African, French, Asian and Spanish influences.

Old-school rum

Maestros Roneros (rum masters) have been refining their knowledge and skills for generations. The result is a world-famous tradition of quality and taste. Visit the Museum of Rum in Havana or Barrita el Caney in Santiago de Cuba, and be sure to ask for a sip of extra old for a new taste experience.

Storied streets

Cuba has more World Heritage Sites than any other Caribbean country. Extraordinary historical cities are scattered throughout the island. Havana Vieja and its impressive fortifications, the historic centre of Cienfuegos, the town of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spiritus, and the winding streets of Camagüey should top any must-see list.

 

26 Jun

By

The new Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Since 2014, Eloy Govea Rodríguez has been the Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. Originally from Cuba, he shares his unique perspective on this island and what you can look forward to when you visit.

How has Cuba changed over the years?

Tourism in Cuba has grown a lot in recent years. We now have 10 international airports and resorts for every kind of traveller with lots of facilities and options. But we’ve also worked to preserve our culture and heritage. We have 10 World Heritage sites, 257 national monuments and 332 museums.

What will surprise us most about Cuba?

Over a quarter of the island is protected, which means you can experience some really amazing natural habitats.

Why does Cuba have such enduring appeal?

The people! Cubans are very friendly and happy to share their culture.

What’s the best place to visit in Havana?

Havana was recently declared one of the New Seven Wonder Cities so there’s a lot to see. I definitely recommend Old Havana. Those old streets are very charming.

What can families look forward to most?

Families will love how peaceful and safe this island is. You can visit with even the youngest traveller and they’ll have a great time.

One thing we all have to try?

Combine the beach with the cities. Cuba has incredible beaches but get to a city centre to experience the music, the life of the island.

What’s the best part about a vacation in Cuba?

You mean aside from everything I’ve just mentioned? Maybe the fact that Cuba is still

very affordable and only three and a half hours from Canada.

One thing we all have to bring home?

Cuban cigars, of course. Cuban rum and music are also great.

 

26 Jun

By

Cuba: What’s old is new again

June 26, 2015 | By |

Cuba has a life, an energy, and a passion that are truly unique. A vacation here is a journey along endless white-sand, a trip down a cobblestone street, and a night on the town with locals helping you find the island rhythm.

Cuba has changed a lot in recent years and the vacation options have grown along with it.

Air Canada Vacations now flies to six destinations across the island and offers resorts for every style, from quietly simple, to grand luxury, with decadent rooms and superior service. You’ll also find family-friendly resorts on calm beaches with features like waterparks and more, making this a truly affordable family destination.

Welcome to the island.

 

12 Jun

By

Where to Have the Best Cocktails in Cuba This Summer

June 12, 2015 | By |

Cuba is largely known for its beautiful beaches, culture, history, cigars and Che Guevara, but also – for its cocktails! Cuban cocktails often bring to mind thoughts of vacation, the beach and fun in the sun. And we’ll let you in on a little secret: the best Cuban cocktails can be found in none other than… Cuba. Let’s take a look at where to have the best cocktails in Cuba this summer:

1) A mojito at Valentin Perla Blanca – Cayo Santa Maria

What sounds better than sipping the most famous Cuban cocktail on a beach in Cayo Santa Maria (near Santa Clara)? If interested, we recommend stopping by Valentin Perla Blanca, a chic, adults-only hotel that has no less than 10 bars, one of which is a mojito bar. This refreshing cocktail made of rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint goes down smoothly and comes in different variations for different tastes. This is definitely the place to savour the perfect mojito against a tropical backdrop.

2) A Presidente at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul – Varadero

The Presidente gained its popularity during the Prohibition of the United States of the 1920s, and was named in honour of the Cuban president of the time. The drink may vary from bar to bar, but the main ingredients remain the same: dark rum, curaçao, white vermouth and a dash of grenadine. In Varadero, and specifically at the IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, the Presidente is delightful – a must while watching the hotel’s evening entertainment. The hotel also features a cigar bar. A Presidente and cigars  now that’s Cuba.

3) A daiquiri at Melia Las Dunas – Santa Clara

Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cocktail knows many variations, but the original (made of rum, maraschino liqueur, cane sugar, lime juice and crushed ice) can be sampled at Melia Las Dunas, preferably while you dip your feet in the pool to cool off from the hot Santa Clara sun. To make the most of your stay, try simmering down with one of these cocktails after a tai chi class by the pool. If you’re not into tai chi, you can opt for snorkelling, windsurfing or kayaking. Relaxation and fun guaranteed!

4) A Ron Collins at TRYP Cayo Coco – Cayo Coco

If you want to taste a really good Ron Collins, the Cuban version of the American Tom Collins, head to TRYP Cayo Coco. This cocktail, made of rum, sugar, lime-flavoured soda water and ice, pairs perfectly with lobster and shrimp at the hotel’s seafood restaurant. One of the many advantages of this hotel is that it allows you access to its sister hotels in Cayo Coco: the Sol Cayo Coco and the Sol Cayo Guillermo. You stay at 1, but play at 3! That gives you three times the opportunity to try a Ron Collins.

5) A Cuba Libre at Blau Costa Verde – Holguin

When you think about Holguin, you probably think about its white sand beaches. But Holguin is also a warm city where you can enjoy Cuban music, food and the overall lifestyle. If you’re staying at Blau Costa Verde, you’ll have access to their nightclub, which offers unlimited drinks until 2:00 a.m. It’s your chance to sample a delicious Cuba Libre (rum and cola, garnished with a lemon wedge) the drink got its name in 1902 when the country was freed from its Spanish colonial rule.

 

Ready to tantalize your taste buds with these Cuban cocktails? Don’t put off your Cuba vacation any longer – start planning today! And if you’re really in a hurry to sit back on a lounge chair on the beach, cocktail in hand, take a look at our last-minute deals for some awesome prices.