DOWNERS GROVE, IL "“ July 18, 2011: For decades, the allure of Cuba has remained just out of reach for most Americans. Thanks to amended regulations, Americans may now travel to Cuba legally in the experienced hands of global luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent. This September, A&K will operate an inaugural journey to Cuba for U.S. citizens, followed by five additional departures this year "“ revealing the destination with a combination of authenticity and luxury beyond the reach of any other travel company.
Long-established relationships in Cuba make it possible for Abercrombie & Kent to offer a degree of access and insight no other travel company can match. With experience orchestrating seamless travel to Cuba for guests from the United Kingdom for the past five years,Â A&K has access to people and cultural experiences that reveal the diversity of this intriguing destination.
"We've built upon our experience in Cuba, as well as the rest of the world, to ensure our guests will discover Cuba at its most intimate, authentic and in complete comfort," explains Abercrombie & Kent USA President Scott Wiseman. "We have arranged an expedited immigration process on arrival, exclusive accommodations at Cuba's best hotels and a carefully-planned itinerary that includes private access to Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia for an informative discussion with the curator and local staff involved in restoring the home and its lush surroundings."
Abercrombie & Kent has partnered with the Foundation for Caribbean Studies, a licensed people-to-people non-profit organization, on an itinerary that takes Americans beyond Havana to Trinidad in central Cuba, a Spanish colonial settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the rural countryside.Â There is time to explore Cuba's cultural and historical wonders, while meeting local people to talk about daily life in Cuba and to enjoyÂ mojitos, salsa dancing and intimate dinners atÂ paladars (privately-owned restaurants) for a first-hand introduction to Cuba's growing private business sector.
Learn the finer points of tobacco, rum and coffee: the "triangle" of the Cuban economy. Try your hand at crafting one of Cuba's most enduring icons during a hands-on rolling workshop at a cigar factory, followed by a tour of a working tobacco plantation. Taste Cuba's other famous exports during a visit to the Rum Museum, located inside an evocative seventeenth-century colonial residence, and at a coffee plantation where you learn the provenance ofÂ cortaditos (espresso topped with steamed milk).
Experience Ernest Hemingway's Cuba, on a privately guided visit to room 511 in the Hotel Ambos Mundos, Hemingway's hideout, where he is said to have pennedÂ For Whom the Bell Tolls. Visit his seaside home, Finca Vigia,Â before it opens to the public to discuss preservation efforts with the caretaker, then take a walking tour of Cojimar, the inspiration forÂ The Old Man and the Sea, and meet a local fisherman who brings local folklore to life. Enjoy lunch at Las Terrazas, another of Papa's favorite haunts.
Visit the Valley of the Sugar Mills, the most important sugar production region during colonial times. Explore Old Havana with a local architect, who shares his insights into the city's restoration projects. Wander the streets of Matanzas, one of Cuba's most authentic cities and the birthplace ofÂ rumba. Explore the intriguing Farmacia Museum with members of the family that preserved the tools of the trade used in Latin America's first pharmacy and established the museum.
Meet with Cuban artists including Cuban community iconic painter and ceramicist, Jose Fuster, while visiting his art studio, and Salvador Gonzales for a tour of Callejon de Hamel, a tiny alley he turned into an Afro-Cuban art and music epicentre. Discover Guanabacoa, known for its strongÂ Santeria influence and nearby Regla, to visit the Afro-Cuban Museum and the Shrine of the Black Virgin, steeped in local legend. Explore Las Terrazas, a pioneering eco-village turned UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Ride in style in a vintage America car to the historic Santa Isabel Hotel for dinner on the rooftop terrace. Experience a tradition as old as Havana itself, theÂ caÃ±onazo ceremony, from VIP seats, followed by a carnival parade.
A&K Exclusives in Cuba:
- The best hotels including the 5-star Iberostar Gran Hotel Trinidad, a beautifully restored boutique hotel in the center of Trinidad (A&K is the only US tour operator to offer lodging here) and exclusive rooms at Havana's historic Hotel Nacional
- VIP access to Fincas Vigia, Ernest Hemingway's home at Cojimar, before it opens to the public, viewing his immaculately-preserved home in small groups of three or four
- Discover Matanzas (A&K is the only travel company visiting the culturally-rich city) on a private visit and tour a 19th-century pharmacy, hosted by descendants of the original owners
- Enjoy a hands-on lesson in local environmental conservation by planting a tree at the beautiful Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens
- Travel in comfort and style on the newest and most deluxe motor coach available with first-class leather seats and air conditioning
- Charter flight from Miami to Havana includes expedited check-in and baggage retrieval, in addition to a dedicated immigration agent.
Abercrombie & Kent's inaugural departure ofÂ Cuba: The Forbidden Isle is Sept 30-Oct 10, followed by Oct 14-24 and 17-27, Nov 23-Dec 2, Dec 12-22 and Dec 21-30.* Eleven days from $4,325 per person, double occupancy. Discover the soul of this enigmatic, exotic destination, long out of reach but now within your grasp, by calling 800.554.7094 to speak with a travel specialist or go towww.abercrombiekent.com.