Havana’s Hotel Saratoga – an eclectic elegant experience in Cuba’s capital city

- The Kiwi Insiders, The Kiwi Insiders team are a collection of industry professionals that contribute to the Kiwi JetSetter from time to time, sharing their experiences with our JetSetter community.

Erik Wachtmeister is the founding chairman of asmallworld.net , a forum for wealthy individuals to share trusted opinions and information. Frequently described as “myspace for millionaires,” the site offers travel suggestions, feedback, lively forum discussions, listings of events around the world, and more.

Hotel Saratoga in Havana is an elegant, eclectic-styled building, located on one of the most popular streets in the Cuban capital.

“After four days in Havana”, says Wachtmeister, “I must admit food in New York never tasted so good!”

Besides doing wonders for your appetite (due to the lack of fresh produce), Havana offers a scenic setting for an interesting weekend away from the commercial trappings of our civilized world. We encountered remarkably few tourists, and there was a striking feeling of being in a time warp. The beauty of old Havana impresses you with all its charming yet dilapidated facades, as well as the mansions along 5ta Avenida in the fashionable Embassy district Miramar.

We stayed at the Hotel Saratoga, now considered the best luxury hotel. It overlooks the Capitolio and has a nice roof terrace pool with stunning views. Great place to stay.

We only had one good meal during our stay, at La Guarida. This is a real gem, with surprisingly delicious food, in a very cool setting. All other eating experiences were third rate, with the exception of lunch at Rancho Coquita (107 Malecon). These two are specially licensed “Paladars”, which are private homes with permission to selectively source fresh produce. All regular restaurants are state-owned and can only buy from the state. Even the top hotels do not have access to fresh vegetables, fish, or even orange juice!

I had a great deal of conversations with entrepreneurs who are quietly getting ready to capitalize on the inevitable change that will someday sweep over Cuba. The consensus is that the next administration in Washington will dismantle the embargo and that Fidel’s brother Raul is getting more relaxed as well. This will eventually lead to a resurging economy, after 50 years of an embargoed centrally planned economy.

Two bullish indicators: 1. The Government is now openly stating how bad the economy is. 2. Private investors are hoping things will take a little LONGER, giving them more time to strike deals with people who realize its time for a change.

We are considering adding Havana to a special category in addition to our 65 ASW cities and resorts. The reason is that Havana is one of the best examples of where you really need trusted advice. This indispensable insight was given to us by some of our very few Havana members who certainly knew the inside track.

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