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ALL-INCLUSIVE HOLIDAYS CUBA DESTINATIONS Cuban


Colonial character, classic beaches and easy all-inclusive packages? Sarah Bridge finds it all in Cuba


R


eal-life whales are famous for travelling great


distances, but a giant plastic whale? It sounds unlikely to move at all. Yet one night last year, the colourful aquatic centrepiece at all-inclusive Iberostar Bella Vista Varadero on Cuba’s stunning north coast was blown right out of the swimming pool and all the way across the luxury resort. The night in question was, of


course, when Hurricane Irma struck in early September 2017.


The first category-five hurricane to hit Cuba in 80 years created winds of up to 125mph, caused millions of pounds in damage and affected tens of thousands of homes and buildings. However, just one year on and


you would be hard pushed to find any signs that such devastation was wreaked upon the resorts that line Cuba’s famous beaches. While every hotel has its own tales of destruction – broken windows, flooded floors and hundreds of trees swept away by


Iberostar Bella Vista Varadero


4 October 2018 travelweekly.co.uk 61


zeal


the force of the hurricane – they also have stories of the inspiring aftermath, as workers came from all over Cuba to repair the damage. The hardest-hit hotels, along Cuba’s north coast from Varadero to Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Coco, were shut for two months but still managed to emerge, refurbished and reopened, for the start of the season. The replanted trees will take a


while to reach the height of their predecessors, but Cuba’s golden


beaches are world renowned and the resorts that line them are very much open for business. While most of the hotels


are all-inclusive – the main resort areas are still relatively undeveloped and there isn’t a great deal in the way of outside entertainment or independent restaurants – the hotels themselves are keen to provide a distinctly Cuban vibe, with everything from food and drink to evening entertainment served up with local flair.


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