In the current context of global tourism, acquiring information, booking in advance and traveling in the best way form a trio of variables that almost always lead us to the same solution: TripAdvisor. In other words, the world’s largest travel website is simple and overwhelmingly comprehensive.
The renowned site brings together the opinions and comments of 435 million travelers, relating to 6.8 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions and an extensive list of travel options among which, over the last five years, Cuba has gained an increasing presence.
Without a doubt, TripAdvisor is an excellent measure of quality. An average of 390 million visitors, representing almost fifty international markets, visit the site each month, according to data collected for the third quarter of 2016.
Founded in February 2000, and based in Massachusetts, with a modern business model, TripAdvisor has grown to become a successful platform in which users play an essential role in generating content.
The website, which offers the option of searching among some 200 other sites to offer availability and the best prices for each trip, has often featured Cuban hotels among its Best Caribbean All Inclusive Hotels. This, of course, based on user comments and feedback.
Through the Travelers' Choice awards, the only in the tourist sector based on the opinions of millions of travelers, which have been awarded by TripAdvisor to a total of 100 establishments across the world since 2002, high customer satisfaction levels, as well as visitor preferences (hotels, destinations, beaches, restaurants) have been recognized.
With particular reference to Cuba, TripAdvisor highlights the excellence of services, friendliness of staff and the beauty of its landscapes.
Having received more than four million visitors last year and with an expected increase of at least 100,000 this 2017, the island is seeking to raise standards and exhaustively classify its tourist establishments, in order to differentiate their products.
According to a report by Prensa Latina, Cuba currently has a total of 80,832 rooms across its territory: 62,090 across 360 hotels (68% in four or five star establishments) and 18,742 private accommodations.
At the same time, steady hotel growth on the island could allow for future (potential) annual capacity to accommodate 5.4 million visitors. Investing in the recovery and expansion of infrastructure will result in the development of one of the main sources of income for the country.
At the end of 2015, 44% of visitors to the island had visited more than once, value for money was rated at around 89% and almost all tourists stated that they would recommend Cuba to their family and friends.
Meanwhile, in 2016, six Cuban hotels appeared on TripAdvisor’s list of the most popular All Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean. In sixth place, the Royalton Cayo Santa María (Villa Clara); in tenth position the Meliá Cayo Coco (Ciego de Ávila); and in fourteenth, the Paradisus Rio de Oro (Holguín). The Meliá Buenavista (Villa Clara) secured eighteenth place; the Royalton Hicacos Varadero (Matanzas) twenty-first; and the Iberostar Varadero (Matanzas), was rated twenty-fourth.
In early 2017, the website offered a list of the top ten best hotels in Cuba, according to popularity, ranked as follows: Royalton Cayo Santa María, Meliá Cayo Coco, Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad, Paradisus Rio de Oro, Royalton Hicacos Varadero, Sanctuary at Grand Memories Varadero, Pullman Cayo Coco, Iberostar Playa Pilar, Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba and Iberostar Varadero.
Thus, TripAdvisor allows us to approach some of the hotels that have excelled in what could be called the latest boom in Cuban tourism.
Located in Cayo Santa María, in the central province of Villa Clara, the Royalton Cayo Santa María is close to the Las Brujas airport and also the Abel Santamaría International Airport in Santa Clara.
With 122 modern rooms, including Junior Suites and Royalton Suites, and renowned for its cuisine, the five star hotel offers special facilities to adults in an ideal environment for honeymoons. The hotel also has 44 adjoining rooms, to cater to families and groups of friends.
The expressions “a trip to paradise” and “spectacular” have recently been used on TripAdvisor to describe the most popular Royalton hotel in Cuba.
Meanwhile, the Meliá Cayo Coco, also located in the Jardines del Rey tourist resort, to the north of the island, has been praised for its “excellent service” and described as a “beautiful place for couples.”
Located in the province of Ciego de Avila, Cayo Coco offers luxury and fine sand beaches, and connects with Cayo Guillermo. The Meliá Cayo Coco boasts 250 rooms, comfortable bungalows on stilts in a natural marine lagoon, and opportunities for diving and fishing in pristine waters.
The Paradisus Rio de Oro Resort & Spa is an adults-only all-inclusive resort with 354 rooms, eight restaurants, seven bars, a botanical garden, an orchid garden and an extensive portfolio of facilities and services.
Designed as an eco-resort, fully integrated with the surrounding environment, the hotel is located within the Bahía de Naranjo Nature Park in Playa Esmeralda, on the northern coast of Holguín, has received rave reviews such as: "Luxury in a dream setting" and "paradise exists... and so much so!"
Likewise, clients of the Hotel Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa, which received the 2011 World Travel Award for Best Resort in Cuba, have highlighted their “wonderful stay” and the “excellent and super recommendable service.”
Part of the Blue Diamond resorts chain, the Royalton Hicacos, located in the northern part of the Hicacos peninsula and 35 kilometers from the Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport, has 404 rooms available for adult visitors.
Finally, we can mention the Iberostar Varadero, with 386 rooms, four swimming pools and an equal number of restaurants, seven bars, a spa and various specialized services, mainly for children. It has been recognized for being a “very good hotel”, where one can enjoy “a fabulous holiday.”