José Rolando Portal, one of the country’s largest contributors of tips. Photo: Freddy Pérez Cabrera

As soon as guests arrive at Los Caneyes Hotel, which reached its 50th anniversary this February 15, they sense the air of Cuban identity, present in every corner of the site, and in all of the activities undertaken here, to satisfy the thousands of clients who visit every year.

It’s enough to cross the hotel’s threshold to note how much effort its workers have made to care for the site established in 1966, always in accordance with the most prized, authentic traditions of the country in terms of preparing food and cocktails, protecting the environment, and, above all, in their way of being Cuban.

This is how the imposing figure of the native insurgent Hatuey, who challenged the Spanish, standing at the main entrance has been maintained, as have been the 96 rooms constructed in the style of indigenous caneyes, along with the rest of the similarly conceived facilities, which make up the complex.

The secret to so much constancy can be found in the culture of attention to detail which has characterized this hotel over the years, says manager Alexander Romero Alfonso, who recalls that there are several workers who have been at Los Caneyes for more than 20 years.

These are the people, along with newer arrivals, who have maintained the tradition of caring for the facility and the environment in which it is located, in addition to promoting a culinary culture of the highest order which prioritizes authentic Cuban food, Romero said.

These attributes have allowed us to attract recognized figures in the world of art, sports and government, he adds, including Alicia Alonso, Rosita Fornés, Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez, among others, in addition to eminent scientists who seek accommodations here when they come to see their colleagues in Villa Clara.

As evidence of the good health of the hotel Horizontes Los Caneyes, affiliated with the Cubanacán chain, Romero reported that some 46,875 national and international guests visited last year, contributing four million CUC to the economy, one of the highest figures in the hotel’s history.

When José Rolando Portal Rodríguez arrived to Los Caneyes, he was a young man with no more pretension than the desire to contribute to his family’s income, but life showed him that, to move forward, more than good intentions are needed.

That is how the country boy from Vega Alta, in the municipality of Camajuaní, began to study languages, gastronomy, and other trades linked to tourism, to become today, a paradigm of the kind of worker one must be in this sector.

His service is friendly and cordial, intent upon pleasing guests, be they Cuban or international, attending to the smallest details – which has won him many awards, in addition to being recognized as one of the country’s largest contributors of tips, a gesture much appreciated by his colleagues and members of the community.

Over his 34-year career, he has donated close to 30,000 CUC, almost 1,000 a year, he reports, adding that he is proud of having contributed this way to saving lives, or at least alleviating the pain of children in oncology centers in Villa Clara hospitals, to which he has delivered innumerable toys, sweets and other gifts.

“It’s the least we can do for them. One truly feels a happiness and satisfaction that is priceless. When you go to a hospital like the José Luis Miranda Children’s, you are aware that money is not what makes the world go ‘round, and that it’s better to have a little less, but with your conscience clear, having contributed to helping others,” the barman at Los Caneyes Caneyes says.

When asked what distinguishes this emblematic hotel that remains as beautiful and lush as its first day, he says without hesitation, “The quality of its people, who want and work to make things go well, always trying to make sure that those who visit us leave happy. There is no other secret.