Re­war­ding Na­tu­re

VI­LLA CLA­RA: A NEW DREAM FOR TRA­VE­LERS EA­GER TO DIS­CO­VER UNEXPLORED PLA­CES

Excelencias Turísticas del caribe y las Américas - - Viajes / Travel -

Ibet an un­for­get­ta­ble ex­pe­rien­ce li­ke the one that floods the sen­ses and leaves in us the desire to re­peat the ex­pe­rien­ce, will be en­gra­ved in tho­se at­ten­ding the In­ter­na­tio­nal Tou­rism Fair (FITCu­ba 2018), when they lea­ve San­ta Ma­ria Key, in Vi­lla Cla­ra, the ve­nue of this year's event.

They would no doubt think that only a sin­gle act of ma­gic could mus­ter so much his­tory, cul­tu­re and traditions in a re­gion whe­re la­kes, plains, moun­tains, co­lo­nial vi­llas and a sun-and-beach des­ti­na­tion turn this pla­ce in­to a pri­ze of na­tu­re.

Lo­ca­ted in the cen­ter of the Cuban ar­chi­pe­la­go, Vi­lla Cla­ra abuts the Gulf of Mexico to the north, as well as the Straits of Flo­ri­da and the Baha­mas Old Chan­nel. To the south, the pro­vin­ces of San­cti Spí­ri­tus and Cien­fue­gos bor­der it. Its ca­pi­tal is the city of San­ta Cla­ra, foun­ded in 1689. He­re lie the re­mains of Er­nes­to Che Gue­va­ra. Thou­sands of peo­ple from around the world vi­sit the two me­mo­rials each year, a res­pect­ful pil­gri­ma­ge to the si­tes that re­mem­ber his his­to­ri­cal bond with the city: the Mo­nu­ment to the Ta­king of the Ar­mo­red Train and the Scul­ptu­ral Com­plex whe­re the re­mains of the lar­ger-than-li­fe Ar­gen­ti­ne-Cuban gue­rri­lla lea­der and his fa­llen co­llea­gues in Bo­li­via rest.

As a pro­vin­ce, Vi­lla Cla­ra boasts ot­her uni­que at­trac­tions. The city of Re­me­dios, the eighth Vi­lla foun­ded over 500 years ago by the Spa­niards; the spa of mi­ne­ral-me­di­ci­nal and ther­mal wa­ters of El­guea, fa­mous for its hea­ling po­wer; and Ha­na­ba­ni­lla, the country's lar­gest in­ter­mo­un­tain dam.

The se­lec­tion of Vi­lla Cla­ra as the ve­nue of FITCu­ba 2018 is the icing on the ca­ke for the launch of this pla­ce as a new tra­vel cir­cuit, a des­ti­na­tion that in­te­gra­tes a mesh of ci­ties and towns with high his­to­ri­cal va­lues –he­ri­ta­ges li­ke San­ta Cla­ra, Re­me­dios and Sa­gua la Gran­de, along with a fan­tas­tic sun-and-beach des­ti­na­tions that goes from the city of Cai­ba­rien all the way to the keys of San­ta Ma­ria, En­se­na­chos and Las Bru­jas, whe­re a first-class ho­tel in­fras­truc­tu­re has been built in terms of com­fort and con­ve­nien­ces, har­mo­niously mel­ted in­to the su­rroun­ding na­tu­re.

Just dri­ving from Cai­ba­rien to San­ta Ma­ria Key, down a cau­se­way or rock-pa­ved road that runs over the sea along 48 km, is good enough to hold your breath and let out a long sigh of sa­tis­fac­tion as you re­vel in that uni­que fee­ling of tra­ve­ling on wheels, bet­ween the blue sky and deep blue sea, right un­der a bright sun, bat­hed by the re­fres­hing sea bree­ze. It is enough to re­mem­ber that this feat of

Cuban ci­vil en­gi­nee­ring re­cei­ved the “Puen­te de Al­can­ta­ra” In­ter­na­tio­nal Pri­ze in 1998-2000 as the Best Ibe­rian-Ame­ri­can Work.

EQUALLY VA­LUA­BLE HE­RI­TA­GE

Nu­me­rous works ha­ve been exe­cu­ted or are in the works to beef up the emer­ging tou­rist cir­cuit of Vi­lla Cla­ra as the fourth most im­por­tant of its kind on the is­land na­tion, just trai­ling behind Ha­va­na, Va­ra­de­ro and Hol­guin. Ac­cor­ding to press re­ports, Re­gla Da­ya­mí Ar­men­te­ros Me­sa, de­le­ga­te of the Mi­nistry of Tou­rism in Vi­lla Cla­ra, the­re's a num­ber of ho­tels that are un­der­going res­to­ra­tion, plus se­ve­ral new builds, li­ke the one down the San­ta Cla­ra-San­ta Ma­ria Key rou­te. The­re are two of them –Flo­ri­da and Flo­rea­le- in pro­vin­cial ca­pi­tal; Cos­mo­po­li­tan in Ca­ma­jua­ní; Bau­zá and Leyenda in Re­me­dios; Co­mer­cio in Cai­ba­rién; and in Sa­gua la Gran­de, El Sa­gua, all run un­der Cu­ba­na­cán's En­can­to lu­xury chain and fea­tu­ring four-star ca­te­gory.

The­se fa­ci­li­ties, with the ad­di­tion of Ho­tel Cen­tral near the Vidal Park, plus ot­her gues­trooms and re­crea­tio­nal areas in the La Gran­ji­ta, the Ame­ri­cas and Los Ca­ne­yes ho­tels, all in San­ta Cla­ra, ex­pand the te­rri­tory's ac­com­mo­da­tion ca­pa­city by ad­ding more rooms to cul­tu­ral and pa­tri­mo­nial tou­rism modes, of in­crea­sing de­mand in fo­reign mar­kets.

In Re­me­dios, the ex­tra-ho­tel ser­vi­ce is com­ple­men­ted by the res­to­ra­tion of the Lou­vre Ca­fe­te­ria, the ol­dest in ope­ra­tion in Cu­ba; the Sie­te Jua­nes Ta­vern, the Do­ña La­la Ice Cream Par­lor, the El Go­la­zo Sport Bar and the El Cu­ru­jey res­tau­rant.

BEAU­TI­FUL KEYS

In­ter­na­tio­nally re­cog­ni­zed for the beauty of its na­tu­ral en­vi­ron­ment and the exis­ten­ce of nu­me­rous high-stan­dard ho­tels, San­ta Ma­ria Key is an is­let of 21,4 squa­re ki­lo­me­ters lo­ca­ted in the cen­tral part of the Jar­di­nes del Rey ar­chi­pe­la­go (Sabana-Ca­ma­güey). Along with its peers –En­se­na­chos, Las Bru­jas, Fran­cés and Co­bos, among many ot­hers (the­re are around 500 of them)- they ma­ke up the in­su­lar subsys­tem ca­lled Ca­yos de la He­rra­du­ra.

The keys off the cen­tral re­gion's north coast are la­be­led as one of the best-pre­ser­ved areas of the country, with the se­cond for­ma­tion of man­gro­ves in Cu­ba, let alo­ne a high per­cen­ta­ge of flo­ral and wild­li­fe en­de­mism.

The in­vest­ment plan for the on­going year in­clu­des the development of Ca­yo Es­qui­vel, north of Sa­gua la Gran­de, a si­te of enor­mous po­ten­tial for tou­rism, the pos­si­bi­lity to run a fi­ves­tar lu­xury ho­tel is in the of­fing. Last year, af­ter a grand tour around this pla­ce, Cu­ba's Tou­rism Mi­nis­ter Manuel Ma­rre­ro said that all pos­si­ble of­fers and iden­ti­fied po­ten­tial fo­reign in­ves­tors must be ready by the ope­ning of FITCu­ba 2018, as well as the de­mands and needs for what he calls “a des­ti­na­tion of un­pa­ra­lle­led beauty.”

The se­lec­tion of Vi­lla Cla­ra as the ve­nue of FITCu­ba 2018 is the icing on the ca­ke for the launch of this pla­ce as a new tra­vel cir­cuit, a des­ti­na­tion that in­te­gra­tes a mesh of ci­ties and towns with

high his­to­ri­cal va­lues

Com­ple­jo Es­cul­tó­ri­co don­de re­po­san los res­tos del Che y sus com­pa­ñe­ros caí­dos en Bo­li­via. / The Scul­ptu­ral Com­plex whe­re the re­mains of the lar­ger-than-li­fe Ar­gen­ti­ne-Cuban gue­rri­lla lea­der and his fa­llen co­llea­gues in Bo­li­via rest.

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