Art of Curated Travel: Cuba

From the moment your private jet touches down in Cuba, it’s as if you’ve arrived in two parallel universes: one frozen in 1958, one that perseveres 58 years later. The first company to fly direct private jet flights from 19 U.S. cities to Cuba, Victor has partnered with Cuba Educational Travel as part of its “Art of Curated Travel” series to craft culturally enriching immersive experiences.

Bespoke itineraries created for Victor voyagers provide an insider’s perspective with a luxury lens. Take a private tour with urban planners to learn about Havana’s architectural past, present and future; dine with groundbreaking artists and musicians on cuisine prepared by Cuba’s top chefs; meet with diplomats on the current political climate; sit down with the entrepreneurs who are shaping the Cuba of tomorrow; and watch the sun set over the Capitol building from the rooftop pool of the historic 5-Star Saratoga Hotel.

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Havana: Architectural Time Capsule

A true design time capsule, Havana’s architecture ranges from grand 18th Century Spanish Colonial palaces to the crumbling Belle Epoque mansions once owned by sugar and rum barons, to Meyer Lansky’s swank 1957-built Habana Riviera, the then-crown jewel of the U.S. mob’s underworld empire. Tour the Museum of Decorative Arts to glimpse the lux lifestyle enjoyed by its former owner, the Countess of Revilla de Camargo, who oft entertained guests like the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson.

Cuban Dance

With 1200 students attending daily and a professional troupe that has toured the world and performed recently at the Latin Grammy Awards, the Lizt Alfonso Academy has changed the lives of its many dancers immeasurably. For more traditional styling, take in a performance of the famed Ballet Nacional de Cuba

Classic Cars: Art and Industry

Cuba’s cobblestone streets often feel like a rolling auto museum of candy-colored, wide-bodied Bel Airs and Fairlanes of yesteryear. Out of necessity brought on by the long-standing embargo that makes new car imports exorbitantly expensive, NostalgiCar has coupled auto restoration artistry with industry. Part maintenance facility, part livery service for visiting dignitaries, NostalgiCar embodies the entrepreneurial spirit that propels today’s Cuban people in the face of great challenges.

Cuban Artistry

Image courtesy of Padmayogini

The Cuban art scene has become highly collectible as artists like Esterio Seguria and Alex Hernandez Duenas travel the world exhibiting their thought-provoking works. Visitors can tour their Havana studios and collect without the buying limitations that hinder purchases like rum and cigars. Or join the Cuban cool crowd at the converted factory La Fabrica de Arte Cubana, with its revolving art exhibits and multiple performance spaces.

Paladars of the Stars

Throughout the various phases of The Revolution, dining in Cuba has evolved. The family-run paladar restaurants in private homes have maintained their unique character but now offer world-class service and eclectic menus. Stars of the rising restaurant scene include La Guarida, a true gem in an historic building that was also the backdrop for the Academy Award-nominated Strawberry & Chocolate.

Hotel Saratoga

Image courtesy of Hotel Saratoga

The 5-star Hotel Saratoga in Centro Habana offers luxury corner suites with 20-foot ceilings, wrap-around balconies and clawfoot tubs, world-class service, a rooftop pool with a captivating cityscape view and a prime central location across from El Capitolio. The historic but fully modernized hotel boasts three-bars and two restaurants offering a wide selection of local fare.

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