Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the oldest, grandest and safest cities in the Americas. It is also one of the loveliest. Its beguiling ice-cream coloured colonial buildings, the high concentration of museums and galleries, the stunning vibrancy of Cuban music and dance and the charismatic habaneros give it a cultural punch well beyond its size and economic status. Add to all this the tropical climate and you have a potent cocktail.
Salsa Dancing Classes
Havana is also the perfect place to learn Cuba’s national dance – Salsa. Our authentic Cuban style Salsa classes are facilitated by a top dance tutor. Each participant has a local Cuban dance partner who will always be there to mentor each person’s progress and ensure a high quality learning experience.
Likewise, the influence Cuban insularity has exerted on its people’s myths, fantasies and national psyche, makes the country a unique place for writers and artists. Many great photographers have found in Cuba a source of inspiration. Skyros will honour this tradition and, alongside salsa it will also run a photography course.
Cuban History and Culture
Outside course hours, local guides will help people gain a good understanding of Cuban history and culture.
The day is easy-going. It begins with some gentle yoga followed by a delicious breakfast, the community meeting and then a talk on Cuba. Participants can stroll leisurely through the city, where they can get a glimpse of life without McDonald’s, and enjoy Havana’s rebel nature, which is a crucial part of its allure. The Salsa or Photgraphy courses are held in the afternoon.
Evenings offer balmy weather and a chance to walk the many and varied shopping streets of La Habana Vieja, the Old Havana, visit dazzling nightclubs and shows, and even dance Salsa in the streets!
The programme includes a half day Havana city tour and optional excursions to beaches, a traditional cigar factory and local beauty spots.
The Cubans, even when life comes with plenty of grit, gripes and its share of inequalities, have never lost their passion for partying. The nightlife of their capital is legendary. If you haven’t danced Salsa under a Havana moon, what are you waiting for?
(Mon 12 Nov): Arrive at Havana Libre hotel around 5.30pm following collection from airport (if with designated Virgin Atlantic flight)
Introduction to the programme of courses and events, afternoon city tour and dinner together
Day 3 - 5
Early morning yoga, breakfast, mid-morning history & culture talk, late afternoon Salsa or Photography
Day 6 - 7
Free days with optional excursions and visits to salsa clubs
Day 8 - 10
Early morning yoga, breakfast, mid-morning history & culture talk, late afternoon Salsa or Photography. Dinner and dance at Hotel Florida on the final night.
(Thurs 22 Nov): Depart Havana
Skyros-in-Cuba uses the famous 5-star Habana Libre Hotel. Centrally located in the district of Vedado, the hotel – in earlier times called the Hilton – passed through the revolution relatively unscathed. Fidel Castro liked it so much that he initially relocated his headquarters there! The magnificent mosaic wall, designed by Amelia Pelaez, mercifully survived the hotel’s renovations made at a later stage.
The hotel offers breathtaking views of Havana, the sea and the Morro fortress. Conveniently located, it offers easy access to the eastern beaches. Its top floor has a open-air dance hall with live Cuban bands. There are also restaurants, a swimming pool, 24-hour room service, a hairdressers, a mini-mart and laundry services. All rooms are en-suite with air conditioning, cable television and a balcony.
You can eat well on simply prepared wholesome food. Cuba was a pioneer in the use of ecologically sound farming - all food in Cuba is organically grown. Seafood, particularly lobster, prawns and fresh tuna are of excellent quality. Vegetarianism is in its infancy but restaurants respond to requests.
The holiday includes sumptuous buffet breakfasts and two evening meals.
You can expect optional early morning yoga classes, talks on Cuban history and culture, guided tours, partnered salsa classes or photography courses and visits to local salsa clubs. The history and culture talks are particularly interesting as you'll hear first-hand what life is like living in Havana.
TRAVEL - Flights to Cuba
Take any flight to arrive in Havana on Monday 12 November and depart Thursday 22 November. Virgin Atlantic offers a flight departing London Gatwick at 12.10 on Monday 12 November, arriving into Havana at 17.05 the same day. For those who arrive with this flight there is a courtesy transfer to the hotel. Otherwise, take an airport taxi to the Habana Libre hotel (around £18).
You can book your Virgin Atlantic flight through The Holiday Place on 020 7644 8245. Ask for Damien and he will book your seat and also offer you a tourist card/visa free of charge. Book your flight as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
If you book your flights independently you will still need to purchase your tourist visa. You can do this directly with the Cuban Embassy for £15.00, please contact them for details.
If you are travelling independently then the taxi on arrival from the airport to the Habana Libre Hotel will cost the equivalent of approximately £18.
The flight time from the UK to Havana is approximately 10 hours, although only 8.5 hours on the return. Cuba is 5 hours behind London time. Please note that passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date. You will also need a tourist card/visa and this available free of charge from The Holiday Place if you book your flight with them.
If you'd like to extend your stay at the Habana Libre at either end of your holiday, then we can arrange this for you. Please contact us for details.
Responsible Travel Policy
Skyros provides holistic holidays which emphasize being rather than having, doing rather than consuming and cooperating rather than competing. All staff and course participants are made fully aware of our ethos and principles. Regular meetings give the whole community a chance to talk to each other and to give participants a say in the structure of their daily life. Participants are provided with pre-trip information on the host community and are given a Responsible Travel briefing including practical advice on social interaction with the local people. During the holiday there are opportunities to learn some local language and eat locally-sourced organic national cuisine.
The aim is to create an ethical mini-society which can inspire changes beneficial both to the individual and to the world in which we live.
Some examples of our positive commitment at each of our travel sites appear below - we are committed to an eco-friendly future and welcome creative ideas submitted by staff, suppliers and course participants.
In tune with this aim, Skyros encourages responsible integration with the local communities including the teaching of local history, culture and language or the sponsorship of events such as the Skyros mini-marathon. In Southeast Asia, guests are encouraged to give locals English lessons and we have local guides. In the same spirit, Skyros has contributed generously towards the purchase of computers for Skyros’ local school, new medical equipment for its Health Centre, the refurbishment of its school theatre and the protection of its forest. Skyros also supports the welfare of the Skyrian horses, dogs and cats, work of the island’s folk dance society and the local children’s Tae- Kwon-Do group.
Unlike so many multinational holiday companies, Skyros uses locally owned and maintained facilities with policies in place that favour local produce and services. Guests visiting shops, bars and tavernas offsite are, likewise, directly benefiting the local economy. Locals are employed wherever this is possible – on Salsa dancing trips to Cuba, for example, each participant is matched to a local dance partner specifically employed for the purpose.
Atsitsa is fully in tune with the natural environment. Motorised sea sports have never been introduced, kitchen and shower water is recycled, the showers are heated by solar panels and the external lighting is solar powered. We are also working with the local authority to bring further recycling to the island – plastic, glass and aluminium.
Skyros provides holistic holidays that emphasise being rather than having, doing rather than consuming, and co-operating rather than competing. The aim is to create an ethical mini-society which can inspire changes beneficial both to the individual and to the world in which we live.
In tune with this aim, Skyros encourages responsible integration with the local communities and has contributed generously towards several communal projects. It also stands for sustainable living. the latter requires the reappraisal of the promises made by our materialistic, consumer, technocratic culture. This means: consume less and ethically, use everything more efficiently, recycle when you can, meet your needs without compromising the abilitiy of future generations to meet their own. Make something rather than buy it. It also requires the re-evaluation of our own goals. This involves the development of all our potentials as parents, partners, colleagues, friends, members of our community and citizens but also as creative human beings. Going for it is like embarking on a journey to a better future. if you haven't started it already, start now.
An experience I will never forget.
I'd recommend this to anyone. A truly outstanding and life-changing experience.
An amazing opportunity to have your buttons pushed in a safe and controlled environment with the knowledge that the course days are a big step to a new beginning.
The experience matched the writing on the tin. A magical combination of intense personal challenge, skillfully managed, in the relaxation of beautiful surroundings. A giggle with its Comedy Improvisation and great socializing. Superb care provided by the centre admin team.
This experience met and exceeded all my expectations. I could not be more pleased that I came and I am leaving with a sense of calm and excitement at the positive changes I will be making when I return home.
My experience has been that Ari and Jacqui reach the parts that other facilitators don't! So, if you truly want to choose life then this course is a risk well worth taking.
I believed that this sort of holiday was for other people, but its for everybody who wants to get more our of life.
A truly holistic holiday that it is good for the body and soul. I have met new friends but more significantly, I've met myself.
A magical holiday you need to experience in order to understand how magical it is.
A delicious and creative vehicle for exploring yourself, others and the wonderful, beautiful island of Skyros, with its friendly people and unique food.
My holiday was superb. The course with Claire was absolutely amazing. Micheal was so supportive, appreciative and funny. The people and staff were fantastic. All in all, it far exceeded my expectations. Also yoga with Martha was a great start to the day. The holiday unleashed my creative and let me be my true self.
I just loved my time and will be back!