03 OCT 2018: Senior brass from Cuba's largest travel company put on a grand fete to say “Gracias” to Canada's travel industry partners for their continued support of travel to Cuba. The special event was also to celebrate some of Gaviota Tourism Group's grande tourism developments.

Of course, everything was delivered in classic Cuban style with an evening soiree that had all the trimmings and trip prizes galore, giving agents nice incentives for their winter bookings.

Last week travel industry partners, tour operators and agents gathered at the Palais Royale for generous food and drink which was capped off with 'the best mojitos in all of Toronto.”

Yes, the bartenders of all Cuban bartenders, Rafael Cruz whose acclaimed stint is creating the ultimate rum-infused muddle mint elixir at the luxurious new Iberostar Grand Packard in the Cuban capital had guests watching him meticulously create a row of mojitos in under 1-minute.

That's just one example of local Cuban vibes.

During the trade event local travel professionals met with an exclusive group of hotel partners from Cuba's finest, newest and most popular hotel and resort chains. “Normally you don't see them at trade shows,” relayed Nieves Ricardo from the Cuba Tourist Board, who was the MC for the evening. The Consul General of Cuba Tania Lopez Larroque was the evening's special guest.    

Guests heard from Frank Pais Oltuski, marketing vice president with Gaviota Tourism Group, who announced that the Cuban travel company has made Wi-Fi service a top priority. A thundering applause resulted as he elaborated, “We will not stop until all facilities across the country have Wi-Fi.”

Oltuski told Travel Industry Today the next big luxury hotel opening in Havana will be the debut of the 250-room SO/Havana Paseo del Prado slated to open next year in time for Havana's 500th anniversary. Clients can also look forward to a new boutique hotel in the newly restored Marquis Palacio Cueto, a famous art nouveau building built in 1906 which is scheduled to open in the Old Square, Plaza Nueva in Old Havana by this December.

Other tourism developments:

Cayos de Villa Clara, a historic-rich province with lush islets like Las Brujas and the Santa Maria keys offers 10,572 hotel rooms in 17 locations.

New hotels in the area include the 67-room Hotel Las Salinas Plaza and Spa, a 4-star adults-only resort in Cayo Las Brujas.

The 5-star Hotel Sercotel Experience, a 660-room all-inclusive resort, is situated in Cayo Santa Maria.  Tour operators such as Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing, Air Transat, WestJet Vacations and Hola Sun Holidays sell packages.

Guests viewed a video showcasing new Cuba tourism products from the Gaviota Tourism Group.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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