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There’s much more to Cuba than 1950s classic cars driving past pastel-colored old buildings. From mountain biking and zip-lining to rum tastings and salsa classes, this is a country that invites you to get to know its history, culture, and people. You can even come home with a cigar that you rolled yourself—a souvenir of a place most MICE groups have yet to experience.
Cuba, largely unexplored as a MICE destination, treats groups to an irresistible Caribbean vibe
Cuba offers visitors an abundance of history, culture, natural beauty, and the lure of a location that’s still relatively unknown to MICE groups. And the country is surprisingly accessible from Europe: its transportation infrastructure includes ten international airports, at least half of which are equipped to handle large international flights. That makes it easy to explore beyond Havana and beyond the ordinary boundaries of MICE group travel.
MICE activities: from zip-lining to cigar-rolling
Among the most iconic and enduring images of Cuba is the sight of classic 1950s automobiles driving past the pastel-colored buildings in Havana’s historic center. MICE groups can put themselves right in that picture by participating in a “rally,” says Fabrice Mercorelli, Director of C2C (Come to Cuba) Travel. Groups ride in coco taxis (open-air three-wheeled vehicles similar to tuk-tuks), those classic cars, Cuban busses, and small boats that navigate Havana’s harbor.
For outdoor adventure and athletic challenges, MICE groups venture into the countryside for biking, hiking, and slower-paced walking tours of trails in national parks. “And there are three places close to Havana where we can do zip-lining,” Mercorelli says. “One is in Las Terrazas, a biosphere reserve where everything is sustainable. We have another in Viñales, the grounds of the best tobacco in the world, where we also have bicycle tours and horseback riding.” In fact, group itineraries can include time for mountain biking, horseback riding, and zip-lining in a single day.
What is more classically Cuban than a hand-rolled cigar? On a tour of a tobacco factory, MICE group members can learn to roll cigars and keep their work as a souvenir. Groups can also join tours and tastings at the Museo del Ron Havana Club, a “rum museum.” After all that daytime activity, it’s time to sample Havana’s nightlife—and group salsa lessons prep visitors for dancing alongside the locals in the city’s clubs.
Add to these experiences options such as visits to artist studios, birdwatching tours, or a visit to the Soroa Orchid Botanical Garden and your group will return from Cuba with memories that will last a lifetime.
Dining: savor the flavors of Cuban life
“Ropa vieja” translates to “old clothes,” which isn’t a name you’d expect to find attached to a popular menu item. But Mercorelli calls the dish, which is made of shredded beef, “wonderful Cuban cuisine.” He also recommends sampling rice and beans as well as manioc (cassava).
Among the restaurants he recommends are La Guarida, known for the high quality of its food; La Floridita, “the best place for daiquiris in town” and known for its seafood, especially lobster; and El Cocinero, which is located next to the Fabrica de Arte Cubano, “an old factory that’s been restored and now is a place for art exhibitions, music and theater performances, and displays of Cuban culture.”
Uniquely Cuban hotels
Havana’s most historic place to lodge is the Hotel Nacional, which overlooks the Malecon and has conference facilities that can accommodate groups of up to 500. But while comfortable, it doesn’t offer the city’s most luxurious accommodations. Many hotels have been constructed in recent years, and the newest is also the first to achieve a five-star ranking: the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana. Located at the edge of the Havana Vieja (Old Havana) district, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the hotel offers amenities such as a “tremendous terrace” and rooftop swimming pool. “It’s the best view in Havana right now,” Mercorelli says.
Havana’s 20-year-old convention center is equipped with extensive facilities and can accommodate up to 2500 people, and most of the hotels have conference rooms and ballrooms for meetings of up to 500 people. And while publicly available wifi is notoriously slow and unreliable in Cuba, meeting organizers can reserve and pay for a service upgrade from the telecommunications company. That allows groups to use a dedicated high speed Internet line within the event space. Similar upgrades are available for lighting, sound, microphones, and translation services.
Added value: safe streets, new experiences
You can walk freely everywhere in Cuba, Mercorelli says, with no concerns about safety. And should you need medical attention, the doctors and hospitals are of the highest caliber. These attributes should contribute to MICE groups’ ability to relax and enjoy a destination where everything is a new discovery.
How to reach Cuba
When you’re starting to plan MICE travel to Cuba or elsewhere, you can count on the Pro Sky team’s support in creating a memorable event. When it comes Cuba, we have more than 78 projects under our belt and are always looking to go the extra mile for your journey. To explore our services and learn how our expertise can help make your events in and beyond Havana a success, CONTACT US.