I am finally ready to officially announce that I am organizing a group trip to Club Amigo Marea del Portillo, April 14-21, 2011. It's being called "Write in Cuba" because there will be a writing-related component, but it's open to anyone!
So, if you're a writer, grab your favorite travel companion (not necessarily the same as your favorite travail companion), and sign up! S/He doesn't need to dress up and pretend to be a writer to be welcomed to the group...unlike the All-Girl Posse trips in October, when men aren't invited, even if they offer to wear dresses.
For this trip to fly, I need to have 10 people signed up by Dec. 15, complete with a deposit of $150 for each. The "Donate" button on the right-hand side of my blog will facilitate deposits by sending money directly into my "Cuba account" via PayPal.
The open quote I now have for this VIP Cabana package trip is $818 (including taxes and deposit) - that's right, it covers your flight, accommodation and all you can eat, drink and be merry! Writing workshops, off-resort excursions or daytrips, if you choose to participate in such things, would be extra.
However, the current price being quoted will likely drop. Sunwing offers a "one-time adjustment" option. This allows us to lock in a lower price, if one shows up on their website up to 60 days prior to our departure date. I'll watch the Sunwing site religiously!
I will be going for the preceding week (April 7-14) as well, and I will be using that time to finalize arrangements for some excursions I think our group would be interested in. For instance, a culturally rich and historically significant 2-day trip to Bayamo and La Plata has been discussed.
In Bayamo, we would see some sites pertaining to the city's history and art, then we would enjoy an evening of live music, followed by a night in a hotel there. In the morning, we would drive to a nearby national park and hike to La Plata, the headquarters of the Revolution. Several buildings have been preserved and, with a little imagination, I'm sure we'll see glimpses of Che and the Castro brothers hangin' out there. I think this will be an intriguing trip!
Other things I will arrange include a special welcome dinner for our group in a private dining area and guided kayak tours into the mangrove to look for manatees...and I'm not teasing! They have been known to graze near the resort.
Here's a list of the extras the VIP package includes:
• Fully stocked mini-bar with best Cuban brands (once upon arrival)
• 1 Gala dinner during stay with lobster and wine
• 1 Sunset cruise per stay
• 1 Lagoon tour per stay
• 3 Excursions to Cayo Blanco per stay
• Express reservations at à la carte restaurant
• Turn down service
• Safety deposit box
• Express check-in
• Different bracelet
• Welcome letter signed by general manager of the hotel
• Late check-out
The clincher for me, as I'm sure it will be for you, was the "welcome letter" signed by hotel's GM. (Ha, ha!) Do they know how to sell the place or what?! Well, that's partly why I'm doing this - organizing group trips - I think the place (more correctly, the people of that area) could do with the added economic injection a nice gang of Canadians could supply. You could think of these spring and fall trips as booster shots in each shoulder season for the people around Marea del Portillo.
I know that the 45 women in October's All-Girl Posse were extremely generous in both their gifts and tips; I'm sure proud to have been part of that group! We had some adventures, as you can read about in other posts, and we had a lot of fun in the sun and under the moon. Perhaps I'll be able to travel with some of you again soonish, either in April or October of next year.
Meanwhile, I'll be looking forward to hearing from you and I'm happy to field any questions you might have about the resort, the VIP pkg., the pricing, the possible excursions, or whatever.