A team from Transat sent to inspect the tour operator’s Cuba properties has brought back positive news for travel agents and their clients.
In an exclusive interview with PAXnews.com, Renée Boisvert, vice-president of products at Transat, shared her observations.
"It's impressive to see the work of the Cubans in just a few days," declared Boisvert. "We arrived in Havana late on Thursday evening and the next morning we travelled to Varadero. In Havana, we were able to see that everyone is mobilized, not just the army, in order to restore the situation: people are working hand in hand, without hierarchy. Yes, there is still some debris, but even in the chaos everything is well organized. The restaurants were open and we had no problem on the roads.”
Operations have resumed their normal course in the region and in the 41 hotels in Transat’s portfolio, only the 12 listed below are not operational at the time of writing. Save for the golf course at Melia Las Americas (which is expected to reopen by the end of the week), the majority of Transat’s Varadero properties are up and running at 100 per cent: the pools are cleaned and filled and the bars and restaurants are well-stocked. "We have all visited them and we have seen no problem for travelers," added Boisvert.
Hotels currently closed in Varadero
- Be live Experience Turquesa
- Gran Caribe Punrarena Playa Caleta
- Club Karey
- Club Tropical
- Villa Jibacoa
- Gran Caribe Sun Beach
- Iberostar Playa Alameda
- Los Delfines
- Mar del Sur
- Melia Peninsula
- Ocean Patriarca
- Paradisus Varadero
From right to left: Iberostar Bella Vista: Renée Boisvert, vice-president products, Transat; Tania Costa, local operations officer Varadero; Hanen Djebari Sequeiros, buyer, Transat; Margarita Valdez, local representative of Hotel Varadero; Nathalie Thériault, product manager, Transat; Ariel Perez, Varadero Airport Representative.
A report is yet to come from Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism regarding the status of The Cayos off of Cuba’s north coast; repairs are currently underway to the main road (which sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Irma) linking the island chain to the main island.
The ministry anticipates that resorts in the region will again be able to accommodate vacationers between the end of October and mid-November, possibly even before the completion of the repair work to these properties. In fact, all new construction has been stopped in order to dedicate the workforce and the materials to the renovations of the hotels damaged by Irma, which should significantly speed up the process.
Beaches better than ever
"One of the consequences of a hurricane is the impact on the beaches - hotels can either lose it or regain it.
“The second scenario has happened," explained Boisvert. “The beaches are better than they were before!"
Indeed, the Minister of Tourism announced that Irma had moved large quantities of sand into Cuba and that the beaches of Varadero, in particular, now have an additional width of five to 10 metres.