If Havana, the capital of Cuba, has been for over one year an iconic city for tourism, then after the reestablishment of commercial flights between the US and Cuba, Santa Clara has become a trendy city.
The boom of Havana as a major tourist destination began a year ago when, after the thaw in diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba visitors flooded the streets of the Cuban capital. But since the August 31 US airline, JetBlue Airways opened a new era by flying for the first time in more than 50 years to Cuba, Santa Clara appeared on the map as a serious destination in the center of the island.
A hundred-year-old city of Santa Clara is the capital of the province of Villa Clara, a region where nature provides a landscape of striking contrasts. From legendary cities as Remedios and Santa Clara itself, to its beaches and natural settings of great interest to travelers.
Known worldwide as the “City of Che“, here rest the remains of the guerrilla and revolutionary, Ernesto Guevara. Right in the historic center of the city there is Parque Vidal, one of the best preserved squares of Cuba, while the theater La Caridad, enlivens the cultural life of the city and El Mejunje has established itself as a bastion of the LGBT community in Cuba.
So when the U.S. Department of Transportation decided that JetBlue would be the first airline in the country to fly to Cuba, Claudia V. González, the company’s commercial manager for the area of Latin America and the Caribbean, understood it clearly: “JetBlue began the charter flights to Cuba 5 years ago and they were successful from an operational standpoint. With the airport of Santa Clara, we have a long and strong working relationship. It is a wonderful province and that’s why we chose this city for the first commercial flight of JetBlue to Cuba”.
After JetBlue arrived Silver Airways and also American Airlines is expected to start traveling to Santa Clara. And although the changes in the city gradually are being made to receive this wave of visitors, it is impossible that it loses its charm spread between a decadent architecture, sensuality and warmth of its people that makes you feel like an ordinary Cuban. And, above all, you get this unique sensation of traveling to a place where time stopped over 50 years ago.
Santa Clara shows two faces, the one with new hotels and the real one, lived daily by Cubans. To understand the magic of the city, there are more and more travelers who prefer to turn down offers of the hotels and opt for a rental house. The option covered by Soulidays, which via its reservation platform offers the best vacation rental properties in the city.
For Yara Conde, return to the city where her parents were born is magical. “I look forward to treading the streets that they walked on, know the park where they fell in love and visit their old house. Wow! To be here, to be part of the history of this country is something extraordinary”.
While Gisselle Rodriguez, a Dominican based in New York tells me in between sips of Mojito, “I want to experience it first hand, eat at restaurants Cuban food, sleep in the house of a family originally from Santa Clara, feel part of this city.”
– Why? I ask.
– Santa Clara has become a place to be, definitely, it is trending.