After getting pregnant, delivering, and traveling with a baby, it was time for Mr. K and me to disappear into doing nothing for about a week.
Usually, we look down on resorts, especially the all inclusive ones.
In general, all-inclusive resorts do not offer any authenticity. One is surrounded by poorly- tattooed – over- exposed- to- the sun- people, who eat, drink, and do not care about anything but the book they are reading on the beach and the drink that they have ordered for the fourth time before 10 am. And who can blame them!?
I was one of them, and I was so glad to turn into a blob for a week. I have gained two extra kilos and drank way too many Cuba Libres.
It was glorious.
Here I was laying on the beach and being bored out of my mind trying to optimize in my head everything I saw in front of me. That included service, our hotel room, all the public places, entertainment, food, pool area, and of course, the beach.
So when one thinks about 4.5-star resorts, the picture is different from what one might find in Cuba. Cuban 4.5 or even five-star resorts are not the same as everywhere else. As I said, it is Cuban 4.5 stars. Or was it?
After four days eating, drinking, and vegetating by the most beautiful beach, I have ever seen (and I saw a lot) my entitled self-was proclaiming that I knew everything about hotels and how they should be run. At that point, the resort that we were staying in seemed like a good and solid three stars instead of 4.5.
And then we went outside of our hotel zone.
Dear world, I apologize for my ignorance and arrogance.
“These people do not have anything. “
I have heard this phrase many times. It has been almost nine years since my last visit to Cuba. I have visited this sunshine country three times including this one. Resorts were the only available option for me.
Now with Americans relaxing the tensions life in Cuba is supposed to be better, right?
Well, not according to what I found out.
With the new US president relations to Cuba somewhat stalled and the promise of more tourism had hit a pause button indefinitely. And it hurts Cuba the most.
I remember my other two visits to Cuba as if they happened yesterday. Why? Because I just came back from an all inclusive 4.5-star resort and I can tell you that nothing has changed.
I thought that time and politics would do something good or at least for the better of the country. But nothing changed. The same entertainment, food, rooms, and service. I thought that after nine years of absence there is going to be a different perception of luxury and 4.5 stars.
Want to know how we travel? Check this post out!
As I said before, I came with an entitled attitude not knowing what is going on outside the hotel walls. After taking a tour in one of the local carriages through the local town/village where service personnel lives I suddenly started appreciating eating green tomatoes and stopped complaining. It was a great boost to my understanding the country I was in. These people, Cuban people, really do not have anything. Even if they do, they cannot afford it.
They make how much?
At 20$-80$ in monthly salary it is kind of impossible to buy a 7$ instant coffee can. The diet of the local folk is limited to rice and beans, bread and cheese, bananas, avocados, and mangoes when they are in season.
Tip on how to budget for your next vacation to Cuba
So your package might have cost 1200$/person, right? Add another 200$ for suggestions and some shopping and tours, and this is how much money you will need in total 1400$. Mr. K and I did not buy anything this time around.
So we just left tips to our cleaning lady(2 CUC), bartenders(2 CUC), chefs( 2 CUC), and my favorite gardener (2 CUC) who got us fresh coconuts every day before breakfast.
By the way, I just found the website that covers everything you want to know about Cuba. Check it out if you want to learn more!
Of course, you can go through the whole seven days without leaving a single tip, BUT your experience will differ significantly. Imagine 50 people need the same service as you. Who do you think they are going to pick first?
As I stated before, tips are the staff’s primary income source. Monthly wages would not even cover basic expenses like food and clothes.
I am against leaving tips especially of my package states that it already includes them. However, with Cuba, I made an exception. And I think you should too if you are anything like me.
They do get to keep their tips despite what I have heard. Tips in CUCs is the best way of showing one’s appreciation than goodies. The exchange ratio is 1 CUC = 25 Pesos.
Where to exchange money in Cuba?
The hotel rate is disastrous comparing to the airport one. So do not do it at the hotel. On the other side as soon as you come to any airport the tiny window of an exchange place gets bombarded with the tourists that came with you on the plane. So what a girl to do?
Go outside and skip the line! Arrival wing of the airport is almost 2 min walk to the Departure section which also has an exchange place. AND it has a better rate. Now tell me it was not the smartest travel hack ever?
Our Cuban 4.5 star turned three stars turned five stars by our departure. We did not want to leave and made a promise to come back.
We loved it from the beginning to the end. Did you visit Cuba? What was your experience like? Where did you go and what did you do? Please leave it in the comment down below.
I hope you have enjoyed my post and will come back for many more interesting articles! Next one is about shopping in Cuba. There is a something you can shop besides Rum and cigars! Check back soon!
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