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January 18-26, 2015

Rediscover Cuba and the lively dignity of this historical Caribbean gem, with its friendly, welcoming and inquisitive people, who are quick to laugh and talk honestly and compassionately about their complicated and lovely country. Unravel its vibrant history with the Island Life Cuba experience operated by National Trust Tours and enjoy an interactive exchange with locals who will illuminate the traditions of the surviving Indian peoples; the lasting influence of Spain; the glamorous playground that drew celebrities, gangsters, movie stars, writers, and heads of state; the legacy of Fidel Castro and the island’s revolutionary past; as well as its emerging and idealistic future. Explore the vivid and mesmerizing landscape, which has lodged itself into the imagination of artists, dancers and writers, infusing all aspects of the culture with a tropical energy and native zest for life.


  • Hear it from the Experts! Experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts will accompany guests throughout the program and discuss historical, cultural, and contemporary Cuba. Interact with local Cuban experts including musicians, artists, farmers, academics, and architects.
  • Meet lifelong residents of Cuba, who will share their perspectives on daily life.
  • Enjoy three included meals each day while in Cuba.
  • Savor authentic Cuban cuisine in paladares— private, family-run restaurants usually located in family homes and which have been permitted only since the 1990s—and in fine restaurants.
  • Experience a private concert of classical music at the Ermita (Hermitage) de Monserrate, a late-19th-century church turned spectacular music venue in Matanzas.
  • Learn about preservation efforts in Old Havana, the unique African-derived religion Santería, organic and tobacco farming and Cuba’s social welfare system.


  • Hotel Nacional de Cuba
    Centrally located with sweeping views of Havana, Cuba’s most historic and iconic grande dame hotel has played a key part in the city’s history and identity since the 1930s, having hosted world leaders such as Winston Churchill and Kofi Annan and Cuban and international luminaries.
  • Hotel Melia Cohiba
    Located on the waterfront in Havana’s downtown Vedado district, the Hotel Melia Cohiba provides comfortable amenities and service.
  • Hotel Melia Las Americas
    In this hotel, located near culturally rich Matanzas, each guestroom features a balcony.
  • Hotel America
    Located in the heart of Santa Clara, this small hotel has a distinctive Cuban feel.

Study Leader Information
John Meffert, consultant on Heritage Conservation Services, has a long tradition with the National Trust. He has served as the Director for the Southern Office from 1982-1988 and was the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the oldest nonprofit organization in the United States, responsible for preserving the historic resources of Charleston, S.C. John has delighted many study tour groups with his lectures and insights on preservation, and receives rave reviews as study leader.

Tour Itinerary
January 18 - Sunday - Miami, Florida, USA
Depart your home city for Miami. Upon arrival, check into the Hilton Miami Airport Hotel

January 19 - Monday - Miami, Florida/Havana, Cuba
Fly aboard charter aircraft to Havana. Upon arrival, meet the experienced, English-speaking Cuban hosts, who will guide throughout the immersion into their way of life. See Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro gave his famous eight-hour May Day speeches. Then, check into the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
Cuba’s capital, the early-20th-century “Paris of the Caribbean,” remains today arguably one of a kind, mixing impressive urban architecture and culture with an earthy, informal vibe and an energetic arts and music scene. The cityscape has retained a distinctly vintage feel, sometimes nearly cinematically so, which is bolstered by the prevalence of 1950s American-made automobiles, fondly called “Yank tanks” by the locals who painstakingly maintain them.
Vedado, Havana’s downtown district, is a mix of old and new, including the University of Havana; the pre-revolutionary Capitolio reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol; the iconic Malecón (oceanfront promenade); the legendary Hotel Nacional de Cuba; the prevalent Cuban Institute of Music; historic Revolution Square; the stunning sculpture and architecture of the Colon Cemetery; and many gracious, sometimes grandiose manses and townhouses of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Enjoy an introduction to student life at Havana University during an interactive walking tour led by a university scholar.

January 20 - Tuesday - Havana
Habana Vieja, the Spanish colonial core, is a maze of cobblestone streets and picturesque squares—like the bayside Plaza de Armas, the site where San Cristóbal de la Habana was founded in 1514—which have been largely restored and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adjacent are the densely residential Centro Habana, vibrant El Vedado, and affluent Playa districts, which have a more 19th- and early-20th-century eclectic mix of neoclassical, Beaux-Arts and Art Deco architecture. Here, the lively street life is a testament to the flourishing artistic and social lives of the Cubans. Enjoy lunch in one of the city’s premier restaurants.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Local architects and architectural restoration scholars discuss the preservation and evolution of art and architecture in Havana on a walking tour.
  • Discover the inspiring Muraleando (“mural-making”) community art project in the nearby Lawton neighborhood.
  • Meet the manager of a ration store, who will explain Cuba’s Libreta de Abastecimiento (ration system).

January 21 - Wednesday - Havana/Matanzas
After breakfast in the hotel, transfer to Matanzas, called “the city of bridges” and the “Venice of Cuba” for its many pedestrian, auto and rail bridges crossing two major rivers, and the proud moniker “Athens of Cuba” reflecting a legacy of poets, writers, painters, and musicians. Check into the nearby Melia Las Americas hotel.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Visit a local school of arts and meet some of the young adults refining their talents toward a profession in music, painting, sculpture, drawing, or print.
  • Visit the over-130-year-old Triolet Pharmacy, opened in 1882, and interact with the staff and the museum curator, who will explain the instruments used to make medicines.
  • Observe artisans handcrafting small books made of simple materials in the limited- editions publishing house Ediciones Vigía.
  • Meet local musicians and hear them perform in the late-19th-century Ermita de Monserrate, a quaint colonial church turned spectacular music venue.

January 22 - Thursday - Matanzas/Santa Clara
Gateway to Cuba’s historically and agriculturally rich central region, Santa Clara is a culturally active university town featuring one of the country’s spectacular grand colonial theaters built in 1885. Stroll the wide pedestrian streets of gracious downtown Vidal Park, declared a national monument for its authentic Cuban charm and historic sites commemorating Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Check into the Hotel America.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • In a typical community Casa de Abuelos, enjoy conversations with the elder Cubans and staff, who will introduce guests to a longtime Cuban dance tradition, the danzón.

January 23 - Friday - Santa Clara/Havana(Guanabacoa/Regla/Cojimar)
Return to Havana this morning, stopping en route in Guanabacoa, a center for Santería, the syncretistic faith blending Catholicism and beliefs and traditions brought to Cuba by African slaves. Explore this very Cuban phenomenon in Guanabacoa’s Afro-Cuban Museum.
Across the harbor from Old Havana, Regla is a borough best known among Cubans for the iconic Black Virgin of Regla, patron of sailors, queen of the waters and identified with the Santería goddess Yemayá.
The charming seaside fishing town of Cojimar is best known for Ernest Hemingway, affectionately called “Papa” by locals, and his hilltop farmhouse, Finca Vigía, where he wrote The Old Man and the Sea based on a local fisherman. Enjoy lunch at La Terraza de Cojimar, where Hemingway regularly dined.
Check into the Hotel Melia Cohiba.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Meet followers of Santería and learn more about their religion, still prevalent throughout the island.
  • Ride in a private antique American-made car to dine this evening in a paladar, a family-run restaurant in a private home.

January 24 - Saturday - Havana (Pinar del Río/Viñales Valley)
Cuba’s westernmost province, Pinar del Río, has a pleasant capital city surrounded by expansive farmlands famously spread over the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, one of the island’s three main mountain ranges.
Pinar del Río’s striking Viñales Valley— designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural beauty and the preservation of its traditional architecture, crafts and way of life—is a much photographed and painted 270-square-mile plain surrounded by distinctive limestone karst hills the locals call mogotes. The farmland here is among Cuba’s richest, and the ancient agricultural practices produce robust coffee and some of the world’s best tobacco, products central to Cuban history and identity. Visit the community art therapy program in Pinar del Río.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Meet local farmers and observe a traditional cigar-roller in Vuelta Abajo, the country’s tobacco heartland.
  • Share a homestyle lunch with an organic farmer’s family and enjoy a discussion as you explore his gardens.
  • In the historic town of Pinar del Río, visit a community project whose aim is to teach engraving to young people with Down Syndrome.

January 25 - Sunday - Havana (Jaimanitas)
Jaimanitas, a beach community in the Havana suburb Playa, is home to the Hemingway Marina and one of Cuba’s best known artists, José Antonio Rodríguez Fuster, a sculptor and painter whose elaborate and distinctive works of art are in a style inspired by Barcelona’s Antoni Gaudí.

People-to-People Cultural Enrichment:

  • Interact with members of José Rodriguez Fuster’s community.
  • Discuss a music performance with members of the Cuban Institute of Music.

January 26 - Monday - Havana/Miami, Florida, U.S./Home City
Board the charter flight to Miami. Connect with your flight home.

Tour Price*
Per Person - $5,795
Single Supplement - $600

Special Offer!
Mention Historic Hotels of America when booking your tour and receive three $100 gift certificates, each good toward a $100 refund when you book through and stay for at least two-nights at a Historic Hotels of America hotel.**

To book a tour please contact our tour VIP desk at +1 202 772 8000 or

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Terms & Conditions
*Price per person, based on double occupancy. Singles are available upon request for an additional $600. Taxes are included.
In Miami:
One night in the Hilton Miami Airport Hotel; Breakfast; Welcome briefing; Round-trip Miami/Havana, Cuba, charter flights.
Accommodations and Meals in Cuba: Two nights in the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana; One night in the Melia Las Americas, near Matanzas; One night in the Hotel America, Santa Clara; Three nights in the Melia Cohiba Hotel, Havana; Welcome Reception in Havana; All meals included while in Cuba, featuring:

  • People-to-People homestyle lunch to be shared with an organic farmer’s family
  • Transfer in private antique automobiles to dinner in an authentic paladar, a family-run private home restaurant
  • Farewell dinner in Havana

Wine or beer and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner; coffee and tea with all meals.
Exclusive Local People-to-People Hosted Excursions and Cultural Enrichments: Informative introduction to student life in Cuba at Havana University; Walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discussion with local architects and architectural restoration scholars to learn about the preservation and evolution of art and architecture in Havana; Visits to the 16th-century Plaza de Armas and the Antique Automobile museum in Old Havana; Interaction with local artists in the Muraleando Community Project, an art district in Havana; Visit to a school of arts in Matanzas to meet students; In Matanzas, visits to the 19th-century Triolet family pharmacy and the Ediciones Vigía Publishing Collective, where books are still handmade; Classical music concert in Ermita de Monserrate and opportunity to meet musicians and directors; Conversation with elder Cubans in a typical community senior citizens’ center, Casa de Abuelos, in Santa Clara; Visit to the History Museum of the Revolution, Santa Clara; Hosted tour of Santa Clara’s grand colonial Teatro de la Caridad; Visit to the Afro-Cuban museum in Guanabacoa and discussion with followers of the Santería religion; Visit to the icon of La Virgen de Regla, patron saint of fishermen in historic Regla; Excursion into the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Viñales Valley and discussion with a tobacco farmer, including a cigar-rolling demonstration, and refreshments with his family; Visit to a community project for young people with Down Syndrome to interact with volunteers; Visit to the home and studio of renowned Cuban artist José Rodríguez Fuster; Music performance by and discussion with musicians from the Cuban Institute of Music; Spanish language introduction of Cuban-dialect basic phrases and pronunciation
Enhanced Travel Services: Taxes and visa fees; Medical insurance as required by the Cuban government and only valid in Cuba; The services of an experienced Gohagan & Company Program Director throughout the program; Travel document wallet, name badge, and pre-departure information; Automatic $250,000 flight insurance policy for each participant ticketed on flights by Thomas P. Gohagan & Company.
NOT INCLUDED IN TOUR PRICE: Passport and associated fees; personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls and Internet access; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; baggage charges on aircraft; airfare and associated local taxes, airport facility and security taxes and federal inspection fees not listed in the “Included Features” section of the brochure; any overnight on land due to flight schedule(s); meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services mentioned in the “Included Features” section.

**Maximum of one $100 certificate may be claimed for a refund with a minimum two night stay booked through following the return of your tour and completion of your hotel stay. The refund will be issued within 45 days of the completion of your stay upon submitting a Great Experiences & Tours $100 refund application. Refund application must be submitted with a copy of your hotel folio receipt, the original confirmation number from your booking on, and the Certificate number issued to you for booking your tour through Historic Hotels of America. Certificates issued are a promotion only valid toward future reservations made through and do not have any cash value. One certificate may be used per room per two night or longer stay at the same hotel. Eligible rates include rates publicly available at time of booking. Reduced rates, rooms included in another travel or tour package, employee rates, advance purchase rates, and certain last minute sale rates are not eligible for this promotion.