Cuba has consistently topped most of the annual lists of hottest new destinations.
But for agents who are unfamiliar with Cuba, or who are attempting to meet the booming demand for a limited supply of luxury in the country, booking that perfect trip can be challenging.
To help meet the demand for FIT travel, which has been growing since President Obama eased restrictions on people-to-people travel in March to include individual visits (previously people-to-people travel from the U.S. was limited to groups), luxury tour operator Ker & Downey is now offering customized private journeys to the island.
Luxury tour operators have begun offering more intimate group and private travel to the island, but most still have set itineraries and dates. Ker & Downey says the itineraries its lists for for its Tailor-Made Cuba journey are simply suggestions.
"There are no set departure dates to fit into your schedule, no minimum number of travelers to manage, and the journeys are completely customizable," the company said.
Ker & Downey said the trips, which range from about $600 to $1,000 per person, per day, are developed based on the relationships the operator established while organizing small group travel to Cuba.
Travelers can book a private car and driver to take them around the country, with options that include private tours of Havana and visits with Cuban musicians, photographers or artists; bird watching and horseback riding in the Vinales Valley; and dining with a local family at their organic farm. Accommodations include Havana's Hotel Saratoga, boutique hotels in Old Havana or private villas.
"Ker & Downey's private, FIT offerings in Cuba are very unique when compared to the more mainstream, set-departure group tours currently overtaking the island," said President David Marek. "But what we offer in Cuba is no different than what we promise our clients around the world, which, in a word, is authenticity.
"For Ker & Downey, luxury means bringing travelers straight to the source of each destination's identity. And what better place to do that than in Cuba, where cultural exchange is at its most concentrated?" he continued. "The difference is that we allow travelers to experience Cuba in their own way and on their own time, so that they can see what authentic people-to-people travel to Cuba looks like firsthand."