The island of Cuba, otherwise known as "The Pearl of the Caribbean", has scooped the prestigious accolade of 2021's Best Cultural Destination in the Caribbean from the World Travel Awards. Read on and find out why!
Cuba, so much more than Cadillacs and cigars
If you were to ask your best friend in the pub what they think of when you mention Cuba, most would take the same tack with their answers. They might say about the 1950s American Cadillacs and Chevrolets, the beautifully ornate colonial facades, painted every colour in the rainbow, or the giant cigars, thought to be the strongest in the world.
They may even mention the music scene, and how Cuba seems to be an island that never stops dancing to the sounds of Danzon, Cha-cha-cha, Mambo, Rumba, or Salsa. If you're in the pub having this conversation, your friend may even look down at their Daiquiri, Pina Colada or Mojito, smile, and mention the cocktails aren't bad either.
Whatever they mention, Cuba exports a vivid array of images to the world, all of which ring true when you visit the island.
However, culturally, it's the tip of the iceberg. Cuba is about so much more than all of the above, and visiting the island is the best way to find out about all the unknown gems the island hides, making it one of the most unique places on Earth.
That's why the recent news that Cuba has been recognised as the "Best Cultural Destination in the Caribbean" for 2021 by the World Travel Awards comes as no surprise to anyone who knows the island.
What are the World Travel Awards?
The World Travel Awards serve to acknowledge, reward, and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.
The prizes are awarded annually by an international jury of experts associated with the World Travel and Tourism Council and the votes come from qualified executives working within the sector, as well as consumer travel buyers.
Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence, some say "The Oscars of the travel industry", and 2021 sees the awards celebrate their 28th anniversary.
Cuba, a cultural phenomenon
Even before Columbus stepped ashore on Cuban soil in 1492, Cuba had a fascinating heritage. You only have to visit the Vinales Valley in Western Cuba and see the valley's tall, steep-sided limestone hills, known as mogotes, and the caves nearby to see remnants of the ancient Taino population that lived on the island before Europeans arrived.
The Spanish, the French, and the British have all left their marks on the island, and it is also a melting pot of African influences mixed with traditions from other countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Cuba is home to a staggering nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the fifth-highest number in Latin America. For its small size, Cuba is punching well above its weight, only being beaten by much bigger countries like Brazil and Mexico. A trip to Cuba, then, is not only an opportunity to get some sun and relaxation but also to experience some of the world's most amazing treasures.
Not many people will have heard of Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Trinidad, or Desembarco del Granma National Park, but they all hold countless wonders for people seeking more than sun, sea, or sand.
"As a cultural destination, Cuba offers any traveller countless attractions, like World Heritage cities such as Havana, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba. There are also great musical and dancing traditions of inestimable value, such as 'son' and the 'rumba'." - Buen Viaje a Cuba Magazine
Sputnik also mentions the staggering array of architecture on the island, mentioning that the music and dance Cuba gave the world are accompanied by:
"...monumental architectural samples in several cities, as well as a vibrant life in squares and streets."
Interestingly, in the World Travel Awards "Best Hotel in Cuba" category, Havana's Hotel Nacional de Cuba won the prize.
Considered a flagship for accommodation on the island, the hotel, which turns 91 this year, was awarded the UNESCO "Memory of the World" status and has won this prestigious award for an amazing seventeenth consecutive year.
What else did Cuba win from the World Travel Awards?
The Presidential Lorca, from the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski in Havana, was also awarded "Best Suite", and in the "Best Vacation Resort" category, the award went to Melia Las Dunas, in Cayo Santa Maria.
In turn, Cuba Direct was recognised as the "Leading Travel Agency" for the fifth consecutive year for its comprehensive passion for managing trips to the island.
Cuba plans to reopen its borders to international tourism from 15th November, and with a vast selection of luxury resorts and boutique hotels available for tourists to choose from, as well as the huge amount of culture on display from coast to coast, Cuba is likely to lead the way for holidaymakers seeking to get away this winter.