Our country’s relationship with Cuba is looking at a new future with doors between the two countries opening. We wanted to take part in this future and explore what is considered a capsule in time and in particular through the arts- in art, ideas are always referencing a past, considering the present or looking to a future. We made an assumption that through the arts we would learn the most about the culture as it is experienced today.
It was these unique experiences, people and sights during our time in Havana that inspired our Spring 2016 Collection.
A incubator that seeks to support and promote the arts- a wonderful place to discover artists and commune- (fantastic pina coladas)
One of Havana’s heroic and celebrated artists opens his studio to the community as a means of sharing his work.
Finca Vigia (Hemingway’s home)
A gem and certainly worth the drive if you love Hemingway as I do.
A great way to take in the city fully is traveling by convertible- that said, you will quickly appreciate the emissions policy here in the US.
Walking around the old city reveals itself to you more with each day. Much of the commerce happens behind closed doors- you may pop your head into a door and see a beauty salon that has no exposer to the street. Also- to see the parts which have been restored is breathtaking and helps visualize the grandeur that once was Havana.
Exhilarating is the word that describe the waves when they crash along the Malecón. We were one of the last cars on the road before it was shut down for flooding.
Christ of Havana
There was something assuring and peaceful standing up close to this statue of Christ looking over Havana- as if he was holding the city in his palm. It’s moving power combined with the sunset view looking back over the city was incredibly emotional.
Pop your head into the old Riviera Hotel for a mid century modern throwback! It is spectacular.
From students in the arts to the artists we met- we learned that there is a specific context for art- no matter the genre- that it always be an expression and comment on a political or cultural issue. Art for art’s sake or for self expression is taught to be unimportant and self-indulgent and goes against the inherent community of thought. Through the arts, however, an artist lives an atypical Cuban life- with an easier ability to travel and conduct commerce outside of the Cuban borders.
We were fortunate to tour both the National High School of Arts as well as the Cuban Art Academy- both highly competitive schools with limited and coveted placement. The kind of qualifications admit only the most skilled and interesting in expression.
The Cuban Art Academy
An architectural fascination, which in 2010 became recognized as a national monument. Castro and Che took the former country club and converted it into the National University for the arts. Expanding over acres it houses artists, musicians, actors and dancers and as quickly as it was commissioned it was decommissioned and architecturally never completed.
Santy was one of the best meals I can remember having in my life. The sushi was superb and the un-expectation of ambience unparalleled to any experience. It seems to be a very insider-y spot as even the hotel did not know about it. It is incredibly difficult to find (way out by the Marina Hemingway which in its own right is worth a trip to), absolutely unassuming, and yet divine.
Paladar La Guardida lunch or dinner
Exquisite and a quintessential Havana experience. I recommend dining here your first day or night in Havana- it wonderfully sets the stage for the rest of your trip- a beautiful spot with a menu that is classically Cuban and delicious.
La Esperanza dinner
A private “paladar” that is delicious and charming- GREAT FOOD + GREAT DRINKS!
San Cristobal dinner
Quintessential Cuban Cuisine set in Old Havana. A must stop, which serves perhaps the world’s best mojito (and I don’t even particularly like mojitos).
A lovely little coffee shop I happened upon during my second trip to Cuba just next to San Cristobal.
I have stayed in the Melia Cohiba, which, while not romantically Cuban, has modern amenities like internet (albeit slow) and a wonderful continental breakfast spread on the business floors. The National Hotel of Cuba, while a Havana classic and it has internet, is quite touristy and does not serve anything close to a continental breakfast. There are many boutique hotels, which do not I believe have any modern amenities except for the Hotel Saratoga, which seems to be a wonderful balance of a classic Havana experience with Westernized amenities.