Recommend November 2015 - (Page 12)

CUBA Beachside at Grand Lucayan. for EVERYONE caribbean ed wetschler In its 2014 Economic Impact Study, members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) named Cuba one of the top two "emerging" countries whose popularity would grow in 2015. With hindsight, it's clear that those respondents hit the bulls-eye. Indeed, Cuba is the most talked-about destination in the Caribbean right now, notwithstanding the fact that even with the recent thaw in diplomatic relations, U.S. citizens are still restricted to 12 categories of travel. Of course, the category that's accessible to the most people is the fastest-growing category: the people-to-people program. What's more, as tour operators continue to launch new packages to Cuba, the demographics of Americans who are going there keeps expanding. The market now ranges from retirees who have time for longer vacations to strivers who demand trips lasting less than a week, and from young people on limited budgets to established couples who will spend upwards of five figures for a 10-day trip. The variety of itineraries has expanded, too: For example, Mayflower Tours now offers cruise-based trips, Travcoa runs packages that emphasize cuisine, Globus is offering an 11-day Spiritual Journey through Cuba, and so on. The only thing not yet available is FIT trips for beach-and-beers travelers. Will that be the next breakthrough? I put that and several other questions to two companies whose people-to-people trips are quite singular but for one aspect: They're enormously popular. ABERCROMBIE & KENT/ANNETTE MOREJON abercrombie & kent Both Apple Vacations (top) and Abercrombie & Kent (bottom) offer people-to-people programs to Cuba that offer an in-depth look at the island. 12 november 2015 "We launched our first people-to-people program to Cuba in 2011, after regulations were amended to allow this type of travel," says Marianne McNulty, A&K's Cuba product specialist. "There was a pent-up demand to experience Cuba in an authentic way, through personal interactions with the local people. Since then, we've seen steady growth, with double the number of guests compared with last year." The Cuba: People to People itinerary, a 10-day trip (from $6,296 pp dbl) with 16 departures in 2016, features stays at the Melia hotels in Havana and Remedios. The architectural tour of Havana is led by an architect; the visit to a medical facility features conversations with a Cuban physician; there's a private Buena Vista Social Club-style concert and discussion with the musicians; a talk about U.S.-Cuba relations by a former Cuban Foreign Services scholar; an excursion to Las Terrazas eco-community; and not only a beisbol game, but a chance to play a few innings. That's immersive, all right. "We initiated Cuba: Across the Island this year with five departures," says McNulty. "Now there is considerable interest in exploring more of the island than just the Havana area, so we have extended the offering for 2016 to 12 departures." When asked what makes A&K's trips distinctive, McNulty says, "A&K developed its programs to enable guests to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, exploring its architecture, agriculture, music and cuisine through intimate, one-to-one exchanges with local residents. Additionally, we have space reserved at the best

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend November 2015

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk: Hilton
Tour Talk: What’s New
Cuba for Everyone
Cruising Asia’s Waterways
AmaWaterways’ AmaDara
Why Vietnam Now!
Canada: Road Tripping Through Ontario
Cool Patagonia is a Hot Ticket
Manchester, England
The Art of Cooking

Recommend November 2015