Day 1. Saturday.
Business Exchange with Cuban Entrepreneurs
Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Havana.
Group welcomed by the Authentic Cuba Travel® Cuban guide and driver. Transfer to your Park View Hotel
, located in Old Havana,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Private group check-in.
Our Cuba business tours from USA
start with a welcome dinner at a paladar
(family-run restaurant), a private business establishment that has boomed in the country since Obama's administration eased the travel restrictions to Cuba for Americans
. Tonight we will visit La California
and meet the owners. During our people-to-people exchange with these Cuban business entrepreneurs we will learn about the way their lives have changed since the Cuban government opened the door to private enterprise.
Breakfast and dinner are complimentary.
Day 2. Sunday.
Cuban Cooperative Model
Morning: business study tours to Cuba for US academic institutions should take the time to explore the unique Cuban cooperative model, a fusion of private entrepreneurship and state-owned property seen by many as a clear opening to free-market models and privatization in the Caribbean nation.
State enterprises and lands have been converted into cooperatives which are directly and independently run by workers who have a stake in their success.
During today explorations of cooperative models in communist Cuba, American participants of our business trips to Cuba will visit (time permitting) different cooperatives such urban farms
, art workshops
, beauty salons
, taxi service providers
, etc that have been turned into cooperatives by the Cuban government. Cubans have embraced this sort of enterprise that allows them to take home the money they earn for the first time in generations.
First we will visit the urban farm Organoponico Alamar
to meet with their members and to discuss the cooperative model. This cooperative has about 25 members and provides a range of healthy, organic low-cost food to Havana and environs.
As part of the educational activities included in our Cuba study tours
to meet OFAC criteria for legal travel to Cuba for American schools and universities are people-to-people exchanges with ordinary Cubans such as the farmers we will meet next at the Vedado Farmer's Market
, where fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are sold from simple stalls. Separate sections sell meats and live poultry. All of the essentials for traditional Cuban cuisine are available here, along with the aromas, sights and sounds of a bustling bazaar.
Lunch at Vivero Organoponico Alamar
. Dine on natural food prepared by the staff of this collective!
Afternoon: visit to the Experimental Printing Workshop
, another interesting cooperative model. Again, a state-owned building, in this case a historical spacious building dating from colonial times, have been turned into a cooperative where a group of Cuban artists work tirelessly to produce Cuba's finest print artworks. Those participating in our business tours to Cuba from US will get to experience a high caliber people-to-people educational exchange
during this visit.
Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana
where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local artisans.
Return to hotel.
Evening: US Cuba business trips should not be boring! Tonight you will dance to Cuba's most popular rhythms such as Son and Salsa at La Azotea de Elsa
. This is another interesting private venture that shows the entrepreneurship spirit of the Cuban people. A Cuban family of musicians have managed to obtain a license to run a sort of private small club in their home, located at the rooftop of one of Old Havana historical buildings.
Day 3. Monday.
Cuba business tours
Old Havana's Master Plan, Self Sustaining Business Model
should take a closer look at a very unique business model that was developed in Cuba during the 1990's when the Office of the City Historian
was granted special economic powers for the touristic development, restoration and complete rehabilitation of the historical center amid the huge economic crisis the country was facing as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Today, the administrative responsibilities of the Office of the City Historian
go beyond saving buildings and monuments to the training and hiring of apprentices and artisans, architects, and planners. The Office also plows tourist-generated revenues into operations of schools, hospitals and retirement homes in Old Havana
. The office also ensures that schools, hospitals and retirement homes have the necessary resources to operate properly.
With so many responsibilities and an obligation of self-financing all its activities, the Office of the Historian has established several companies to generate the necessary funding to accomplish its goals. Habaguanex S.A.
, named after a native chief, owns most of Old Havana's tourist facilities, hotels, restaurants, bars, markets and stores. All profits from the companies owned by the Office of the Historian are reinvested in important social projects and restoration work.
Escorted by an architect from the Master Plan of the Office of the City Historian
, Cuba business tour participants from US will embark on a guided
walking tour of Old Havana
, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We will visit restored areas and buildings where restoration is on progress. We also visit some hotels, and business entities
that provide financing for the Office of the City Historian.
Lunch at El Templete restaurant
, one of the most successful establishments of the Office of the City Historian.
Afternoon: Visit to Habaguanex S.A. Headquarters
and Lonja del Comercio
buildings (former Exchange of Havana),
a commercial building run by Real State Company Fenix S.A.
Exposing US students to the Cuban educational system through peer-to-peer exchanges is also a priority of our educational business tours to Cuba. Today your students will have the chance to spend time with Cuban students at the Old Havana's Escuela Taller
, Cuba's premier educational institution for the teaching of archeological and restoration work.
Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana
where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local
Return to hotel.
Evening: attend baseball game at Latinoamericano Baseball Stadium
in Havana. Business travel to Cuba for educational activities by US academic institutions will not be complete without socializing with Cubans at a baseball game, Cuba's national sport. No wonder President Barrack Obama himself visited this baseball stadium during his visit to Cuba in 2016. Tonight your students will follow in the footsteps of the former US president!
Day 4. Tuesday.
Cuba's Cigar Industry
Morning: understanding Cuba's economic history is getting to know the Cuban cigar industry. Business study tours for US academic institutions should delve deep into an industry that has been part of Cuba's economy for centuries since colonial times.
Joint ventures in between Cuban-government enterprises and foreign enterprises have been at the center of Cuba's economic emergence from the Special Period of the 1990's. One of such joint-ventures is Habanos S.A, a 50-50 partnership in between Cubatabaco, a Cuban company and Altadis, a Spanish company. Habanos S.A. expects to gain 25% to 30% of the US market if embargo is lifted.
Today we will have a exclusive meeting with representatives of Habanos S.A.
to learn about the opportunities and challenges of joint ventures with Cuban-government companies as well as to learn about the Cuban cigar industry in general.
Complimentary lunch will be served at El Aljibe
, one of Cuba's most popular restaurants. Hollywood stars (Jack Nicholson) and US presidents (Jimmy Carter) are among the patrons of this well-run business that was founded by Cuban businessmen Sergio and Pepe Garcia back in 1947.
After the Revolution, the business was closed down as private property was not seeing with good eyes by the new government. But in the 1990's, the state-run chain Palmares approached Mr. Garcia with an interesting idea for the time: to revive the old restaurant and distribute a small percentage of the money they make among their workers. The restaurant soon became one of the most popular venues in the city, hence opening the door for the cooperative model that has become so popular in the last years. Business travel to Cuba from US
includes ample time for discussing this business model with staff of this restaurant that serves a 62-year-old secret family recipe: El Aljibe chicken.
Afternoon: visit to Partagas Cigar Factory
, founded in 1845 by Spaniard Don Jaime Partagas. Don Jaime owned many of the best
plantations in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco-growing region of Cuba and being able to choose from among the finest tobaccos
on the island made the brand Partagas incredibly successful.
Followed by panoramic air conditioned coach tour of the most important historical sites in the Modern Havana
, and Miramar including the Revolution Square
, University of Havana
, Habana Libre Hotel
, Coppelia Ice Cream
Park, Plaza Jose Marti (in front of U.S. Interests Section), Monument to the Battleship Maine, Malecon seawall, Prado promenade,
Central Park, The Great Theatre and the Capitol building.
Evening: meet with acclaimed Cuban filmmaker Rafael Rosales at his privately owned restaurant, El Madrigal
. Like many Cubans we meet during our Cuba study tours
, the entrepreneurship spirit of Mr.Rosales made him turn his 1919 Vedado mansion into a bohemian venue that displays his 20-year- old career in the Cuban film industry through art and images, pictures and artefacts.
Day 5. Wednesday.
Private Business Booming in Cuba's Countryside
During our business trips to Cuba from US
we like to take a day trip to UNESCO World Heritage Site
, Vinales Valley
and Vinales Town
. Known worldwide for its unique rock formations, breathtaking landscapes and tobacco plantations, Vinales private business sector is booming like in no other countryside town in the island. Hence it is an important destination to explore for business study tours to Cuba for US academic institutions seriously considering exposing their students to Cuban entrepreneurs.
To learn how tourism is impacting the state and private sector and the lives of the thousands of Cubans who call Vinales home, we will start our business exploration of Cuba's countryside by meeting with tobacco-growing farmers
at their tobacco plantations
. Extra income is being generated by running small tobacco tours, rolling and selling cigars at their homes, organizing horseback riding tours and other tourist activities.
Next US students participating in our Cuba business tours are introduced to the owners of various private bed-and-breakfast businesses, the workhorse of the private sector in Vinales. With more than a thousand break-and-breakfast operating in this picturesque colonial town, private room capacity has exploded and by far surpassed the combined 200 rooms offered by state-owned hotels.
Lunch at local family restaurant
After lunch we will visit the Cueva del Indio
, used by the Guanahatabey Amerindians as a burial site in ancient time, and as refuge
from the Spaniards for both Indians and Black slaves alike. We’ll take a short boat ride on the subterranean river running through
Visit to Mural de la Prehistoria
, a huge painting on the side of a Mogote.
Just before heading back to Havana city, we will take American professors and students to explore some small businesses around Vinales Central Plaza
such as private vendors selling crafts, unpretentious cafeterias, and others that benefit from tourism. Please, do notice all the people gathering in this area to use the public WiFi, which shows the unprecedented access to internet now available in the island.
Transfer back to Havana city.
Day 6. Thursday. Varadero, Cuba's Economy Engine
An important destination to visit during our travel to Cuba for US business schools is Varadero beach
, the largest beach resort in the Caribbean and the epicenter of Cuba's tourism industry receiving almost 40% of Cuba's foreign visitors any given year. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, tourism became one of the main hard currency earners for the country. Tourism was opened to international capital and foreign hotel chains such as Melia, Iberostar, Riu, etc began joint ventures with Cuban hotel companies to develop and manage hotels in Cuba.
The area offers dozens of other tourist facilities like restaurants, cafeterias, marinas, a golf course, a dolphin aquarium and
a tourism and hotel management school.
Rest stop in Bacunayagua Bridge
for a Pina Colada and enjoy the view over the highest bridge (110 mts) in Cuba, one of the marvels
of Cuban post- revolutionary architecture.
Visit to Matanzas City
, also known as the Venice of Cuba and the city of bridges of which there are seventeen crossing the three
rivers that traverse the city (over Yumuri, San Juan, and Canimar rivers). It is also known as "La Atenas de Cuba" (the Athens
of Cuba) for its wealth of poets.
Visit to Ediciones Vigia
. A unique publishing house that produces handmade paper and first edition copies of books.
Only 200 copies of each book is made so each is a collector's item. Meet with director, publishers and artists.
Panoramic motor coach tour of the Peninsula de Hicacos
, Varadero to witness tourism development in the area.
Free time for lunch and enjoy the beach (optional)
Afternoon: return to Havana city.
Day 7. Friday.
Cuba's Rum Industry
Morning: our business study trips to Cuba also feature exclusive meetings with Cuban representatives of Havana Club International
, a joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban
government. The Havana Club brand is sold outside of Cuba in conjunction with the Pernod Ricard drinks giant. Havana Club is
not sold in the United States, however, due to the United States embargo against Cuba.
Along with Cuban cigars, Cuban rum has been an important export item for Cuba's economy for decades. The famous Daiquiri cocktail was created in Cuba by an American engineer at the end of the 19th century. And Hemingway drank it for decades at Cuban bars. During the Prohibition, wealthy Americans traveled to Cuba to sip in Cuban rum over weekends.
Since the US embargo on Cuba was enforced in 1963, Cuban cigars and rum became forbidden items for Americans. Thanks to the relaxation of economic and travel regulations to Cuba by Obama administration, Americans visiting Cuba can now import cigars and rum bottles subject to same duties as from other destinations.
However, it is illegal to import and distribute those items commercially in USA. How comes then you can buy Havana Club rum (the most popular Cuban rum in the world) at most liquor stores in America? Well, that brand of Havana Club is not from Cuba but from Puerto Rico.
Bacardi sells different rum in the U.S.,
also called Havana Club but unrelated to the Cuban version. The Bacardi product, which is made in Puerto Rico, has been the subject
of trademark violation litigation by Pernod Ricard.
Lunch on your own not included.
Afternoon: visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum
. From freshly cut stalks of sugar cane to a reconstitution of a distillery and
ageing cellars, the museum offers a real-time experience of the rum-making process, as well as a taste of true Cuban culture.
Evening: enjoy Afrojazz, Cubajazz and Sonjazz at Club La Zorra y El Cuervo
, Havana’s most famous Jazz club, located just around the
corner from the National Hotel of Cuba. The club features astonishing performances by island bands and soloists!
(optional, not included)
Day 8. Saturday.
Early morning departure to Havana City International Airport for departure.