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Join Our Group To Cuba For Valentine's!

A small group of Departure Lounge clients is heading to Cuba next February. We have a few spots left on this great trip. Who wants to go?

Varadero to Havana
February 13 – 20, 2016

Day 1 – Saturday, February 13


Check in this morning at the Miami International Airport for our commercial charter flight

to Havana (schedules subject to change). We are met at the airport in Havana by our
guide and driver and then drive east into the province of Matanzas and cross the
causeway to the Varadero Peninsula. The peninsula of Varadero is known for beautiful
white sand beaches, turquoise waters and international class all-inclusive resorts. Dinner tonight is in our hotel, the Memories Varadero Resort or Iberostar Varadero. (D)

Day 2 – Sunday, February 14


In Varadero there are many different water sports and beach activities available and can
be arranged directly with the hotel concierge or activities director. Sailing, kayaking,
snorkeling and scuba diving are offered and surfboards are also available. Surfing is not
a major sport in Cuba but there are a couple of places in Varadero where it can be done
if conditions are favorable. Also in Varadero is the Xanadu Mansion which was built by
Irenee Dupont de Nemours but now serves as the club house of Cuba’s only premier
golf course. Equipment can be rented so golf is also an option. Dinner tonight is at our
hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Monday, February 15


The nearby city of Matanzas was Cuba’s major colonial era port with exports of coffee,
tobacco and sugar and it was also the most important slave trading port. The bay is the
deepest in Cuba and during one battle in 1628 more than twenty Spanish galleons were
sunk here by a Dutch admiral. Our visits in Matanzas today include Las Munequitos de
Matanzas, a center for traditional Cuban dance where we meet with young Cuban
dancers and rhythmic musicians. We also visit the Cuban Art Instructors School and a
Colonial pharmacy. The afternoon in Varadero is available for activities on the water.
Dinner tonight is in our hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Tuesday, February 16


We leave the hotel this morning and drive just outside of Havana to one of Cuba’s finest
private restaurants, IL Divino, where we will be having lunch and visiting the adjacent
farm that practices sustainable agriculture and is the primary supplier for the restaurant.

Not far away in San Francisco de Paula we pay homage to “Papa” Hemingway at his
former home Finca Vigia, preserved very much as it was on the day that he left. Join a
specialist Cuban guide for insight into his life while in Cuba as well as interesting stories
about his home and his boat. Afterwards we head into Havana and check into our
boutique hotel in the active heart of the colonial section of Habana Vieja. This evening
we have dinner at another private restaurant (paladar). Paladar owners are truly Cuba’s
new breed of entrepreneurs, and during visits to these private restaurants you meet the
owners and families to discuss the impact of private business on Cuba’s economy.

Music and jazz clubs are popular with Cubans but the action tends to start late in the
evening. After dinner you may consider staying out for traditional music or go to for
Cuban jazz at one of the clubs such as La Zorra y el Cuervo or one of the coolest spots
for Cuban artists, musicians and people in the know called F.A.C. (Fabrica de Arte
Cubano) which is a kind of combination music club, art gallery and theater. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Wednesday, February 17


Begin the day in Old Havana walking through the historic squares of Old Havana. Some
parks and plazas are famous for book sellers lining the edges of the park and others are
known for art and music. Lunch is in Old Havana. We stop in at the Chocolate
Museum and then see Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway kept a room for
years. The hotel served as a refuge for writing such works as For Whom the Bell Tolls
and as a base for frequenting his favorite bars. You have a moment to see the room
where Hemingway worked if you wish and then we enjoy a mojito on the rooftop terrace.

Later you might consider a visit on your own to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
where a museum curator guide shows you the Cuban modern art collection, which
includes works by such Cuban artists as Wifredo Lam, Rene Portocarrero and Victor
Manuel Garcia. As an alternative you may also wish to visit Havana’s largest arts and
crafts market located on the harbor. This evening dinner is on your own. There are
many choices of restaurants near our hotel or you may want to venture outside the
neighborhood to enjoy dinner at one of Havana’s fine private restaurant such as L’
Atelier, a paladar in a Vedado neighborhood mansion decorated with wonderful
contemporary Cuban art. La Chansonnier and San Cristobal are also good choices.
After dinner those who wish may consider an optional cabaret show at the famous
Tropicana. (B,L)

Day 6 – Thursday, February 18


We have a long but very interesting day ahead as we drive west from Havana for about
an hour and a half en route to the orchid garden of Soroa. This is one of the finest
gardens in the entire Caribbean and one of the best in all of South America. We are led
on a walk by a botanist guide from the University of Pinar Del Rio which conducts
research here. Then we continue our drive to the scenic Vinales Valley. The landscape
is spectacular and it is also the area of Cuba where the finest tobacco is grown for the
best Cuban cigars. First we have a walk and then a short boat trip on an underground
river inside one the huge limestone caves running through a mogote – limestone karst
outcropping. At lunch we sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm
while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. Afterwards we have a chance
to spend time in the small town of Vinales before returning to Havana. Because of the
long day and our bountiful lunch tonight dinner is on our own. (B,L)

Day 7 – Friday, February 19


Our first visit of the day is close to Old Havana but not quite there. It is El Callejon de
Hamel, a unique alleyway famous for its colorful murals painted by neighborhood
resident Salvador Gonzales. This funky alleyway is an open-air art display of authentic
Afro-Cuban culture and religion. This morning we also visit a Cuban cigar factory which
is a journey back in time. There you will see scores of workers, each making cigars
entirely by hand. It’s an unrushed, antique and artisanal process; one that has not
changed in any major way for hundreds of years. We return to our hotel to freshen up
before a big night out courtesy of Virtuoso. We start with drinks at the historic Hotel
Nacional in the gardens overlooking the sea. Then we take a scenic drive in classic cars
first along the seafront Malecon then along the Paseo del Prado, a wide avenue
separating Old Havana from the central city. Paved in marble, this promenade is a
popular place for locals to relax while children play. We see numerous art deco
buildings, including the famous Barcardi Building. We continue our drive across the bay
for views of Havana coming to life before dinner in a paladar. Then we continue to Old
Havana for music with Buena Vista Social Club performers. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Saturday, February 20


We leave the hotel this morning and drive to the airport in Havana to check in for our flight en route home. Air schedules are to be determined. (B)

Tour Price: $3,994 per person double occupancy
(if you decide you want your own private room, single occupancy, the price is $4,694)
Charter Flight Miami/Havana/Miami: $690
Total: $4,684

What is included:
* Professional services of local bilingual guide
* All meals as stated in the itinerary
*All beverages, not including alcohol in group meals
*3 nights in Varadero, 4 nights in Havana
*Bottled Water on excursions and on the bus
*Tips to porters and service staff in Cuba
*Transfers and transportation in Cuba
*Buena Vista Social Club performance

What is not included:
*Passports, bar tab and other personal items
*Gratuities to the Cuban guide, Cuban driver and cleaning staff in hotels

Cuba is very popular right now and February is high season.  Therefore, we are limiting this group to just ten couples.   Please call 512.322.9399 or email if you’d like to join this group.