another question regarding Cuba over x-mas/new year
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Nov 29, 2012 3:24 AM Last Post By: goofy73
Nov 27, 2012 5:23 AM
another question regarding Cuba over x-mas/new yearDear all,
after reading many postings in this forum I think I also need to drop a few lines regarding the timing of our trip. We will fly to Havana December 20 and will stay there for 4 weeks. We have 3 nights booked in a casa in Havana and then wanted to head down to Vinales first but changed plans due to possible accomodation problems (Maria La Gorda, Terrazas). We will most probably head to Cienfuegos. We rent a car. I did not really think that the time of the year would be a problem to find casas all over the island but after reading several postings I'm getting a little nervous! We dont' really want to plan our trip on a day to day bases but rather wanna go where it brings us. Do you really think we will have trouble finding a casa? We thought of heading to Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Santiago......... We've been to Cuba 4 years ago and know the places already a little.
Also where would you suggest to spend x-mas and New Year's? It's the first time we fly off to warmer destination over those days, so this will be quite some change. Another questions is about the tips, 4 years ago we brought USD with us, I know that today we can bring CHF, but what about 1 USD bills for tipps like for the 'car watch guy' etc? do they still take it or shall I keep them at home?
thank you very much for your help.
Nov 27, 2012 6:42 AM
Nov 27, 2012 8:42 AM
2Cuba is not an obvious place for Christmas celebration, although you might see Christmas decorations in some hotels. Most people, unless you get into smaller specially interestged circles, don’t pay much attention. As to tipping, USD is no longer a permitted mode of payment, and other foreign currencies are not convenient modes of payment. Stick to CUC that the bank gives you; that is the current convertible currency in Cuba, and is well appreciated as a tip.
Nov 27, 2012 9:05 AM
Nov 27, 2012 2:52 PM
4For sure your first casa owner will be able to find you a casa in the next town you plan on visiting. And so on. Sounds like you're pretty flexible anyway, which is good because at that time of year the more classy casas will be booked already. But don't panic, and if you keep away from the more popular tourist haunts you should be ok.
Nov 28, 2012 3:30 AM
5Too many annoying experiences with greedy and crafty private casa owners in Cuba would detain me from recommending that any recommended casa particular in Cuba would be good. Many casas are not very good, and many casa owners run in circles to offer good appearances in order to sell and benefit from a wide list of theirs and their friends services, and soon make you feel that it is their home, not yours. (After all it is their private homes you live in). Santiago is definitely not the best place.
Most taxi drivers or casa owners in other places do not know what they recommend.
My recommendation is to inspect the premises and the judge the casa owner (male or female) if you can.
My let downs have never life threatening, still at times it turned out to be annoying. If you are a bit adventuours and a bit tolerant, such annoyances may later add to the amount of laughter you have about Cuba when you tell it to your grand children.
Nov 28, 2012 4:03 AM
6thanks for all your replies. OK I will leave the USD at home :-)
Enram - about the casas I'm a little surprised at your experience. Last time we more or less only had good experiences. But maybe this has changed in the meantime??? I'm curious if there was a lot of change since then.
Thanks Sayeh, we will try to take that channel :-) Just hard to imagine that the island will be so much packed :-(
If I'd known this before..... ;-)
I'm getting excited anyway. Any recommendation where to go away from the tourist haunts?
Nov 28, 2012 4:53 AM
7Hi Sandra I'm afraid I'm a single town girl, just used to going to Havana and Santiago really, so others can give better advice. And depends on what you like to do also. I can say that Santiago is great during winter, the weather is really pleasant then, not too hot for all you cold climate folk.
Others have recommended Camaguey and Bayamo, Sancti Spiritus, - I guess that is saying head east rather than west. If others don't chime in here, post another question giving more info about your interests and you'll get more ideas. You'll be fine.
Nov 28, 2012 5:51 AM
8I personally think that the casa particular market might see more reactions from the government, like some paladars have, for creative business methods. If one is to believe the story of the Habaguanex the horeca trade in Cuba is under scrutiny.
In Havana, at least, several taxi drivers bring tourists to unlicensed often upstairs casas to earn a commission. With a lot of more reasonable hotels being upgraded, or rebuilt, there is less need for casa particulars.
Like the taxi market, it is not always the private sector, even with very rustic standard, that offers the best prices. For a long time the casa particulars were the only place a foreigner could bring a Cuban(a), for a meal or a nap. Now all hotels accept and allow foreigners to stay overnight with Cubans, as well as Cubans may enter in government and hotel restaurants.
Nov 28, 2012 9:17 AM
Nov 28, 2012 10:15 AM
10If you rely on contacts, you risk being told "yes, we have rooms" and then arriving and being passed on to somebody else.
I don't follow why you dropped Viñales.
The eastern end is still not fully recovered from Sandy, and so may have problems - and it is a long way from Havana to Santiago.
Have you got your car booked ?
I see no reason why the Habaguanex situation should affect casas particulares - and yes, it is certainly true that Meise Weiss was removed and replaced. I think that it is widely known that both MinTur and MinFar have been uncomfortable with the degree of autonomy given to the City Historian's office and have been gradually clipping at Leal's position since Raul took over from his brother.
Nov 28, 2012 12:52 PM
11I do my guess simply based on the apparant supply and demand.
The private guesthouses were really the first/one of the first/ sort of businesses that were opened to the private sector. Probably to establish sufficient capacity in the tourist sector. With the number of guesthouses that now are established, with and without the anchor logo, the number of hotel beds under increase, the whole private sector being widened, and the constant lament from the casa owners how bad their business really is, and how high the taxing is, one may expect that they will use their business attitude and capital to move into new sectors. Managing construction, for instance, springs to mind, or retailing.
Nov 29, 2012 3:24 AM