I recently travelled with Sunwing to pristine Cayo Largo, an island on the southern tip of Cuba. It was my first trip to Cuba and an opportunity to see for myself why folks rave about the silky white sand and impossibly turquoise waters. Back in November 2022, Sunwing, secured exclusive operating rights to Cayo Largo for the Canadian market.
We stayed at Memories Resort, where Sunwing’s Chief Marketing Officer, Samantha Taylor, and I enjoyed flutes of Bellinis at the resort’s palapa-style Ranchon restaurant overlooking the beach as we discussed what Taylor described as the three E’s: Enjoy, Explore, Embrace.
What’s to ENJOY?
Let’s start with 25 km of gorgeous beaches (some of them “clothing optional”). Unlike many of the sunspots in Mexico and other Caribbean islands, there are no pesky vendors. You can park yourself on a chaise lounge with a good book and never be hassled. And sargassum, a brown seaweed that floats in island masses and has been invading many Mexican, Caribbean and Florida beaches, has thankfully avoided Cuba.
There are myriad activities to enjoy, including tennis, pickleball, and water volleyball. I took advantage of a relaxing massage in the spa. The talented musicians and dancers at the various resorts perform nightly. Or one might take a dance lesson and master the Mambo!
There’s plenty to EXPLORE
Sunwing partners with Nexus on Cuba’s Sunshine Coast to provide fun activities and excursions for all ages. Among them:
• Cayo Largo offers some of the best diving conditions in the Caribbean with more than 30 dive sites, a protected marine reserve and 200 ancient shipwrecks.
• Take a catamaran cruise to Playa Sirena with snorkelling stops and a chance to take a “selfie” with a starfish.
• For special occasions Nexus can arrange a romantic sunset cruise.
• At the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, visitors can release baby turtles back to their natural ocean environment. We learned that there are seven types of sea turtles in the world – Cuba is blessed with three of them and tiny Cayo Largo has two, the Green and Loggerhead species. Approximately 10,000 of the shelled creatures are released every year.
There’s much to EMBRACE
Taylor touts the new wellness programs being offered at the resorts. During our “famcation” there were morning sessions of Pilates, yoga and meditation held in an idyllic palapa overlooking the deep blue sea. “We want to attract guests who will embrace the concept of wellness and digital detox,” says Taylor. “This serene setting offers the perfect backdrop so you can restore balance and mindfulness.”
During COVID, the resorts on Cayo Largo were closed for about two-and-a-half years, but as we toured the various hotels run by Blue Diamond Resorts, we noticed lots of renovations and improvements. Such as:
• The family-friendly Starfish resort has a new theatre, pizzeria, and lots of “show cooking” areas in the new air-conditioned buffet restaurant.
• Grand Memories is being totally renovated and is expected to open in winter 2023/24.
• Capriche is an adults-only resort that appeals to LGBT travellers.
• At Villa Linda Mar we enjoyed succulent lobster tails hot off the grill.
• The top-end adults only Sanctuary Resort offers 24-hour room service, butler check-in, nightly turn-down service and WiFiI throughout. Its Bellini bar serves creative cocktails.
• With just 24 rooms, Villa Soledad offers some unique activities such as dance and mixology classes.
Taylor is also excited about a private, half-hour plane transfer from Cayo Largo to Havana that will be available in winter 2024. Visitors can spend a day exploring the capital’s fascinating history and culture and perhaps visit some Hemingway haunts. There will also be options to spend a few days in Havana at a Sunwing partner hotel.
The Sunwing group enjoying Cayo Largo
In 2023/24, Sunwing will offer six flights per week from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and a new one from Halifax.
Most of the staff at the Cayo Largo resorts come from the Isla de la Juventud (Youth Island). They spend 20 days working on Cayo Largo and then return home for 10 days off. It’s a formula that seems to work well: Friendly and helpful Cuban hospitality is all part of the Cayo Largo all-inclusive bargain.
For Anita’s full interview with Samantha Taylor, see below:
First published at Travel Industry Today
First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News