In Cuba hotel prices could be higher that compared accommodations in the caribbean area, this is one of the reasons for the increase in the tourism that select private accommodation, hostels, private houses, bed & breakfast, and homestays (casa particular) during thelast years since the Cuban government approved a law that allows house owners to rent rooms apartments or houses. By staying in a "casa particular" you will obtain several benefits, among them:
- Get in touch with the truly Cuban people: If you stay in a big resort in a beach, you will never get an opportunity to talk to and make friends with the real people. You will only meet workers of the hotels and other tourists like you. YOU WILL MISS THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF CUBA, ITS PEOPLE, by staying in a hostel or apartment living with cubans you will get a feeling of the "real" Cuba.
- Lower prices: It is cheaper to lodge in a private room or bed and breakfast than stay in a hotel. This does not mean you will be less comfortable, on the contrary, many people prefer this kind of domestic accommodation to the cold functionality of a big hotel. You will save some money and extend your stay.
- Directly help the Cubans: By renting a private room or staying in a private hostel you will be DIRECTLY contributing to a person or family's stand of living.
- Improve your Spanish:Through regular interaction with the house owners you could learn or improve your Spanish.
- Privacy: It is well know that you could not have Cuban guests in official hotel rooms. If you stay in a private accommodation you could invite to your room any friend you may want.
Some data of interest about Cuba:
Cuba, and its capital Havana have become one of the first tourist destinations in the Caribbean. The island (the biggest of the area) with 110,860 sq. km. (44,200 sq. mi.) have a population of 11 million, and its capital, Havana a population of 2 million. Other major cities are Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Holguin, Guantanamo, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Pinar del Rio. The terrain is mostly flat or gently rolling plains, with some hills and mountains up to 2,000 meters (6,000 ft.). The climate is tropical, moderated by trade winds, with two main seasons: dry season (November-April), and rainy season (May-October). The official language is Spanish.
To travel to cuba, even for tourism, you will need a cuba visa. Tourist visas for anyone, American or not, as long as you were not born in Cuba, are easy to obtain and come as a part of your travel package when you buy your ticket. Visas for journalists and researchers declared as such are a separate matter and require an application to the Cuban Consulate in your country (Washington, DC for the US). Cuban Americans born in Cuba also need to get special permission to travel to Cuba.
To travel to Cuba legally, even if you are not a US citizen but a resident, however temporary, you need a Treasury license, which you obtain from OFAC, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. If you are Cuban-American or married to one, you can travel to Cuba once a year under a "general license" for humanitarian reasons (grave illness in the family, etc) and you need only to notify the Cuban government via a form, but you do not need to get a license from them before leaving. If you are a "U.S. or foreign government official traveling on official business, including a representative of international organizations of which the U.S. is a member; or a journalist regularly employed by a news reporting organization," you also qualify for this "general license." Otherwise you need to get a license from OFAC to avoid being at risk for large fines. Check it out for yourself at the following site http://travel.state.gov/cuba.php
During your travel to Cuba you could not miss Havana, Varadero (not Veradero nor Veredero), Cuba's major and most beautiful beach and the biggest Cuba resort; Santiago de Cuba, an historic and big city in the east; as well as Trinidad, Viñales, Cienguegos, etc. Spending your christmas in cuba will be a notable experience.
Cuba accommodation in casa particular (private hotels):
Casa Particular is the cuban phrase for "bed and breakfasts" or "private homesays" it comes from the fact that everything else (from hotels to industries) is owned by the goverment, i.e. it is not private. The phrase exactly means "private house". The plural of "casa particular" is "casas particulares" an not "casa particulars".
Accommodation in a casa particular could be one of the more interesting experiences that you may enjoy while you travel to Cuba. Cuba is a unusual country in many facts. Of all the foreigners I had meet in the past, only a few got the true feeling of the country, and a deep knowledge of the Cuban society. All of them stay in several "casa particular" during their travels to Cuba, only with the regular interaction with your hosts, in "casa particular" or other private accommodation, you will learn more about Cuba.
If you are interested we invite you to enter our site, where you could find information on Cuba, pictures of Cuba, a short history of Cuba, a map of Cuba, as well as maps of all the major cities of the island, a five days Cuba weather forecast, and a lot of information related to CUBA.