Booking a Havana & Varadero Twin-Centre Break with The Holiday Place

I often get asked how I manage to juggle my career with my global adventures and the blog. I am the first to admit it usually takes a lot of considered, advanced planning and the spontaneity of impulsive travel is not usually a luxury I can incorporate into my routine.

vintage cars El Capitolio Havana
El Capitolio, Havana

But just a couple of months ago, this was exactly what happened. Why waste annual leave I once asked myself? It seems one wastes it when one’s husband doesn’t confirm his own leave till the last minute. When Pumpkin left me with no more than a fortnight’s notice to plan a summer break, I was determined to become the travel genie, who could pull out a holiday from her shiny lamp, even when the clock was against her.

A Havana and Varadero City & Beach Break

One country that had been hovering in our minds for some time had been Cuba. We knew it would be unlike anywhere else we had been and would allow us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in both the culture of Havana as well as some relaxation on the white talcum powder-like, coastal stretches of the Carribean sea. And whilst it’s not exactly short-haul from Europe, a direct nine hour flight certainly implied a straightforward journey.Che Guevara photo Revolution Museum Havana Cuba

My experience with The Holiday Place

With only a fortnight to go and no time to research it, how on earth was I going to pull this together in time without blowing the rest of 2014’s budget? And this was where the mind-reading fairies at The Holiday Place flew daintily into my search engines. With a combination of 7, 10 and 14 day breaks combining both city and beach, their packages included an enormous range of hotels in both Havana and various different beach resorts with some of the best value packages I have seen for long-haul travel. All transfers could be arranged at a small cost and they even arrange visas for Cuba at no additional cost to what would be paid if you arrange it independently.

Piaza Vieja Old Square Havana
The Old Square in Havana

After sifting through hotel reviews to help me make a decision, I selected the perfectly located and well-reviewed Hotel Parque Centrale Havana and the adult-only, former Sandals resort of Royal Hicacos Varadero, I rang The Holiday Place to discuss. Their service was so prompt, efficient and seamless that I managed to book the entire trip during that phone call itself. Cuba has many other beach locations such as Maria La Gorda and Guardalavaca if Varadero does not tickle your fancy.

Hotel Parque Centrale Havana Lobby
Hotel Parque Centrale, Havana

Although the booking process was a breeze, the after-sales service is as much if not more of a test of a company. I’ve unfortunately experienced companies in the past, who have really erred in this respect. When we reached Havana, we were greeted warmly by The Holiday Place staff right at the arrivals gate and given information about a meeting the following morning with the company rep in our hotel.

Royal Hicacos Resort Varadero swimming pool
Royal Hicacos Resort Varadero

That meeting proved to be one of the most useful twenty minutes we could have spent on the trip, helping us to understand currencies, common scams, dress codes, activities to try and those to avoid, language needs etc. Meeting the reps gave us an early insight into just how laid back and fun-loving the Cuban people really are. There are plenty of excursions available to book via The Holiday Place but they don’t hound you with any pressure (the pushy sales tactic is is always a sure-fire way to put me off booking a trip.)

Truthfully, I really didn’t know much about this company until arranging my Cuban summer but after the experience I had with them, I see myself becoming a bit of a frequent flyer to their website, scouting out the best deals for my next exotic break – with destinations everywhere from the Middle East to Mauritius, it’s difficult not to get tempted!


Disclaimer: We were given two very exciting, complimentary excursions by The Holiday Place (watch this space for more on those!) However, as ever, I remain an opinionated little lady and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own and reflective of my honest impressions and thoughts.


29 thoughts on “Booking a Havana & Varadero Twin-Centre Break with The Holiday Place

  1. Lovely photos! Look forward to further blogs on Havana/Cuba visit.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 18, 2014 — 6:18 pm

      Thanks 🙂 More Cuba posts to come in due course!

  2. How lovely. Both the hotels look great, specially that little sit out in the one in Havana. And I completely agree, after sales service is as important, if not more, to have a good experience. Looking forward to reading more on your Cuban adventures 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 18, 2014 — 6:21 pm

      Thank you so much Upasna 🙂 I really liked that Havana hotel too – it had a really nice colonial feel about it. I promise to have lots more posts up in due course about Cuba – such a backlog of blog posts!

  3. Good choice! I really loved Havana although it’s been years and years, but it is still one of the best trips I ever made.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 21, 2014 — 9:46 pm

      Thanks so much Jaklien 🙂 I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about some people loving it out there and some people really finding it a frustrating place to be but personally, I absolutely loved Havana – so much colour and culture and I’m really glad I went. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much too and thanks for reading!

  4. Beautiful pictures. Havana is amazing! I didn’t go to Varadero on my trip to Cuba but shall certainly put it on my list. Ps I think Travel Bag might actually own the holiday place. x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 21, 2014 — 9:54 pm

      Aaaah, I didn’t actually know that – you learn something new every day! I’m glad you loved Havana as much as I did – it’s so unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been! Varadero was lovely too – it was my first experience of any beaches along the Carribean sea – beautiful white sand and turquoise water but very hot! Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  5. Havana is one of my favourite cities, I went in January/February and I still miss it now!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 24, 2014 — 9:35 pm

      I remember reading your Cuba post Becky and thinking how inspiring the photos were! Havana seems to get a lot of mixed press amongst people who travel there but personally, I absolutely loved it – so much colour and life on the streets of the city 🙂

  6. Now I’m dreaming of visiting Havana!!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 24, 2014 — 9:38 pm

      You would love it! Fascinating culture and yet still has the beautiful beaches of the Carribean but for a fraction of the price – that’s why I thought it was a great option for a good-value long-haul trip! Thanks for reading Agness 🙂

  7. The Holiday Place always have tempting holiday deals that jump into my very full inbox; I’ve been so tempted to book one of their twin centre holidays to Cuba. Your photos look amazing xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 24, 2014 — 9:48 pm

      Thanks so much Kelly 🙂 I’m hoping to catch up with my Cuba posts in due course so hopefully, there’ll be a few more pics coming soon! For a long haul trip with beautiful beaches as well as interesting architecture/culture etc, I think it’s quite a good value option – just to tempt you a little bit more for when you next see a good deal!

  8. I’m so jealous! I’m really interested in visiting Cuba too (I love the picture with all the old cars). And omg that resort looks like paradise! I’m always impressed by all the really cool places you two manage to visit even with your full time jobs! I can’t wait to read more about your Cuba adventures!

  9. Sikha, that looks like an amazing trip to pull from a shiny lamp! I always wanted to go to Cuba and especially Havana with all its vintage cars and crumbling architecture must be a great place to visit. But now I am also looking forward to read about your exciting excursions… 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 3, 2014 — 4:28 am

      Thanks so much for reading Dennis! I absolutely loved Havana – that was definitely the highlight of the trip for me for all the reasons you mentioned like the diverse fascinating architecture and the vintage cars and colours! Hope you get a chance to visit & lovely to see your blog – I’m finding useful tips for my next trip 🙂

  10. I’ve just been thinking about Cuba for February. Going to take a look at this company now 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 5, 2014 — 10:47 pm

      Hope you find a deal that fits the bill – I’m sure you’ll love the culture and very beautiful beaches out there!

  11. You are quite lucky to have had the opportunity to visit Cuba… it’s been my dream for years. In fact, I’m listening to Cuban music right now! ^_^ Thanks for sharing your experience

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 9, 2015 — 10:23 am

      Thank you Francesca! I loved Cuba – it was so unlike any other country that I’ve ever visited and I hope that in the coming years, you’ll now be able to make it! I’ve got lots more Cuba posts coming up in due course so stay tuned 🙂

  12. We stayed at the NH Parque Central in Havana – highly recommended 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 14, 2015 — 11:51 pm

      I think I remember you mentioning that somewhere Suzanne – wasn’t it just lovely?! I loved the old colonial feel to the place – I felt like I was in a different era not to mention how conveniently located it was 🙂

  13. Havana is just beautiful, my wife and I went to Old Havana last year, wonderful! We stayed in a particular home for rent with a Cuban family that showed us everything about the Cuban people.

    A holiday in Havana is like be in heaven.



    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 23, 2015 — 8:51 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences George! So glad you enjoyed Havana too! Fascinating to hear that you stayed with a Cuban family – I know of a few people who have done this and all of them have said how it gave them a great insight into local Cuban home life. If I return to Cuba one day, I’d love to try this out myself ☺

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