A new eco-hotel in Santiago de Cuba opens the door to rural tourism in Sierra Cristal

Posted: 13-Sep-18 09:44

A boutique eco-friendly hotel that just opened its doors to the public for the first time and coincidentally sits just minutes away from what will become Raul Castro's retirement home, has instantly become the first of its kind in Sierra Cristal, a protected mountain range and national park in eastern Cuba. The new Hotel Segundo Frente aims to provide unique rural experiences in a privileged untouched setting, next to the town of Mayari Arriba.

A new eco-hotel in Santiago de Cuba opens the door to rural tourism in Sierra Cristal

A modern edification rising in a secluded mountainous area of eastern Cuba has become Santiago de Cuba's first eco-friendly hotel, catering to rural tourism in a little-explored region.

After an official visit by Raul Castro, Cuba's former president and current First Secretary of the Partido Comunista de Cuba (the nation's ruling party), the Segundo Frente 1819 Hotel first opened its doors last 28th August, seeking to exploit the region's fantastic tourism potential in a visually stunning natural enclave surrounded by the Sierra Cristal mountains, Cuba's second highest mountain range and the country's first national park with Pico Cristal rising 1,300 metres high. Founded in 1930, the protected national park covers an area of some 185 square kilometres.

One of the hotels included in a plan to increase the number of hotel rooms available to holidaymakers in Santiago de Cuba, this new 52-room hotel has been built sustainably using environmental-friendly materials and its design is in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Consisting of a series of wooden bungalows on stilts and hill elevations, rooms offer incredible views over the Sierra Cristal National Park and a stunning infinity pool overlooking the incredible flora with the majestic mountains providing the perfect backdrop.

The landscape is dominated by pine forests and the area is a birdwatchers' paradise, home to the endangered Cuban solenodon, who can be spotted here. The nearby town of Pinares de Mayari monitors the fragile ecosystem of the region while the next-door town of Mayari Arriba is another attraction, giving guests the opportunity to culturally immerse in the region's rural way of life.

The municipality Segundo Frente, where the hotel sits and after which the hotel is named has recently benefited from a series of investments, starting last July with a new early years nursery called "Sueños de Vilma" (Vilma's Dreams) in reference to Raul Castro's late wife Vilma Espin, former President of the Federation of Cuban Women from the organisation's foundation in 1960 until her death in 2007.

A new and modern ice cream factory using natural ingredients like local fruits has also been opened in this small municipality of some 40,000 inhabitants, using Argentinian technology and producing six different flavours that are then distributed among the third Coppelia ice cream parlous in the area.

There's also a new bakery-patisserie that, according to local newspaper Escambray, provides "the highest quality at low prices" while a new Italian restaurant with capacity for up to 60 diners was also recently inaugurated, as was a new coffee shop.

In short, the new Segundo Frente 1819 Hotel and the area where it sits is well prepared for tourists. A new tourism bureau has also been opened to offer a series of excursions.

This place holds special historical and sentimental value for Cuba's former president, as it is the final resting place of the "heroes of the second battlefront" (Heroes del Segundo Frente) that fought during the Cuban Revolution and where his deceased wife, Vilma Espin also rests. Her tomb also bears Raul Castro's name as this is where he requested to be buried when the time comes, next to his beloved wife. Castro's son, Alejandro Castro Espin, is said to be building him a luxury retirement home here and the same team of builders that built the Gran Manzana Hotel Kempinski in Havana are said to be currently working on it.


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