Bespoke Cuban Holidays for the Discerning Traveller

Customer Testimonials

“I just wanted to thank you for the organisation of our great trip to Cuba. It was a most fascinating experience and it appears it was just in time since Obama announced the easing of the embargo the day we arrived! The local agency was most helpful with everything although nothing is easy in Cuba. Best wishes,
Diane de Spoelberch – Adriaenssen, UK, Jan 2015

“Dear Fernando, We did indeed have an lovely time and also enjoyed meeting owner of the phone voice and emails. Was probably the best short break I have ever been on, and lots of people are already asking me who I went through. Thank you and your team for organising it, especially Sergio and Eric  and the lovely car – it was a joy to wake up every morning and know we would have an interesting day and be so well taken care of. Hope to visit again and see more of Cuba. Have a great Xmas and more destinations in 2015. From us all. Best wishes,”
Rosemary Alexander, UK, Dec 2014

“We are usually independent travellers, eschewing travel agents and tour guides. Having decided to go to Cuba for the first time and with only two weeks before our departure date, we very reluctantly decided to use one. The very first call to Fernando Garcia of Esencia was intended just to pick his brains and then perhaps do some initial bookings ourselves. But, within minutes, it was evident that we were talking to a hugely knowledgeable, very professional, and very open travel agent, who exerted no pressure, no heavy sell, and whom we thought we could trust. He gave the impression (by phone & email, as he is based in Madrid), that Esencia was more interested in ensuring that you came back loving Cuba & its people. He genuinely wanted us to have a good time. So, we used him to plan our itinerary, book our hotels, private homestays, car & driver. He was very efficient, and patient. Having been and returned after a month in Cuba (February 2014), we remain of that original view. We had a fabulous time. We would certainly recommend him and Esencia to others. Cuba can be a difficult country for independent travellers (the authorities seem to prefer large groups) and it was good to know that if we got into any trouble, we had good contacts in Havana to help us.”
Jude, UK, Mar 2014

“On behalf of Ana and myself we need to tell you what a good job you and Denet did in arranging exactly what we needed on our 5 day visit to Cuba in January. We felt that we saw much of what present-day Cuba is about – we stayed in some comfort, your chosen tour guides were very different and excellent, and we had a great time. Denet was assiduous and thoughtful and it was a highlight to meet her parents in their home. Many thanks – we will recommend you.”
Colin Barrow, Mar 2014

“What can I say: outstanding trip and pristine service! Thank you. I’ve already circulated your company’s name to like-minded potential customers.”
Patrice, Switzerland, Feb 2014

“Very professional, thoughtfully customized and detailed planning. Personalized attention by friendly and competent staff. Able to accommodate requests even at short notice. Highest quality of hotels, restaurants, guides and experiences made for a truly memorable and eye-opening trip to Cuba. Felt like an ‘insider’ experience beyond the usual tour routes and travel guide recommendations. Overall exceeded expectations. Would use Esencia again and recommend to others”
Sara and Ruth Hong Kong and Sinagapore  Nov 2013

“The benefit of rotating guides so we got a fresh perspective, but best of all they didn’t act like guides, more like knowledgable sensitive friends showing us their cities gems, conversational & not rote lecturing.”
Tom, India, Nov 2013

“I have been meaning to write to you to say the most enormous THANK YOU for everything you and your team did to ensure we had an incredible holiday in CUBA. Wow – what a country… had to leave kicking and screaming and will most certainly be returning hopefully for a 3 week holiday next time.

We were so impressed with what you did for us and the way the team operated. Just perfect… Some of our highlights were our  afternoon with Nelson Jazz and the young guide we had – he was absolutely charming and really informed us about what we were listening and who all the musicians were. We loved Casa de Musica (think that’s what it was called) although the timings we were given meant that we spend hours waiting for the actual band to come on…but great to get away from any tourists and to see Cubans passionately dancing to their music. Great fun. Loved our gorgeous art guide Loved the Ballet The architectural tour was great Our trip to Playa Giron was just perfect. We had some of the best snorkelling we have ever experienced in the world. Really beautiful and Ronel and Yvette (particularly) Yvette were amazing hosts – such fun. Overall I was totally blown away by your beautiful country – loved Havana and really loved the countryside as well.

Thank you  again so so much for the wonderful service you and your team provided us. We will be back and we will be recommending your company to anyone coming to Cuba”
Libby & Tom, Nov 2013

“There is not much to say other than Mrs B was thrilled by your agencies service. She returned happy and satisfied. I could even hear and see her face smiling while talking on the phone. She especially praised her guide who accompanied her on the entire stay. The hotel selection she said was perfect. Her highlight was Havana itself , although she was happy having seen other places, specially Trinidad. All over she made me very jealous. I can’t wait to catch the next opportunity to visit Cuba and say hello in person to you. Thank you for your kind and professional services. You’ll be sure my next partner on a Cuba request.”
SB – Independent Agent Istanbul Turkey, Oct 2013

It is an intimate, and at times intense, experience – quite unlike any other I’ve had in many years of visiting this country. Esencia’s music consultant is a composer who knows what’s on every night. I watch Aldo López-Galvilán, a kind of Cuban Jamie Cullum, light up the crowd at Café Teatro Bertoldt Brecht”.
April 2012 – Lydia Bell – How to Spend It Magazine

“What the Esencia guides offer is a kind of hidden Cuba, a country you would never experience just by observing from the outside. I learned more about life in Cuba – from the labyrinthine politics to the new middle classes, from the film industry to the latest jokes – just from conversation with my jovial driver than from many a newspaper or book. And my guide could navigate me through the backstreets to the remote home of an artist who if he lived in Britain would probably have won the Turner Prize with his highly original videos, but who is regarded as too radical for the Cuban establishment. She could find me the newest restaurant that had sprung up the night before in someone’s house, where they served aubergine caviar and chilled Chablis by candlelight.
Lara Cumming – Conde Nast 2011

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you and your team for all your help last week! I am just about recovered now but it was amazing…..we did and saw so much and I think we satisfied the group!.”
A. Catchpole, Virgin Atlantic Press Trip

“We had a super time, thank you very much. Fascinating country, we had some delicious meals in the paradars and enjoyed meeting all the guides. It will be interesting to see how things evolve there over the coming years, I had the sense that things are changing slowly, but most Cubans have little knowledge of the outside world. Amazing I am now reading Our man in Havana again. Our friends that have been only really saw the beaches, and I think we had a much better insight into the country. Our thanks to you and your team for all your efforts.”
Frances, UK

“Just returned from the holiday of a lifetime in Cuba and all thanks to the amazing people at Esencia! They suggested places and experiences we’d never have found in the guidebooks – booking us into the coolest, hidden gems of hotels and the most brilliant, vibrant restaurants. Thanks to their powers of persuasion we also did incredible activities we’d never have dreamt of before – from a salsa dancing class to a road-trip in a classic American car. They even hooked us up with friendly and knowledgeable locals on every step of our trip, who gave us priceless insights into what everyday Cuban life is like. In short, we’ve never got so much out of a holiday!”

“Thank you so very much for organising such an excellent time in Cuba for us.   The restaurants in Havana were superb.  We were particularly lucky in our driver, Jorge,  who is also a knowledgeable guide and good company.  Everyone provided/organised by your company was efficient and charming. The Buenavista was pleasantly quiet which was a relief!  They offer Spanish lessons and my husband was the only taker so had one on one lessons for an hour each morning.  Very spoilt.   We packed a lot into the two weeks but all four of us had a really good experience.”

“James and I just wanted to say thank you for arranging such a fantastic trip for us to Cuba. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and also the bits of Cuba that we visited. We just wanted to especially thank you for the great service provided by the team”
James and Ursula

“Thank you so much for organising our holiday in Cuba. We had a wonderful time and it all went very smoothly. We are particularly happy that you recommended the Melia Buenavista as it was so much nicer than the other hotels that we saw on the Caye Santa Maria. We really enjoyed the Hotel Saratoga and preferred it to the Hotel Parque Central although there was nothing really wrong with the latter. The car trip with Nelson was a highspot of the trip as were our meals at the Guerida and the restaurant that Maria Luisa booked for us on our last evening. Maria Luisa was very helpful and it gave us confidence to know that we had a contact in Cuba who gave us such wonderful and personal service!”
Mrs Edgar

“My family and I would like to thank you for the great memories that we brought with us from Cuba. Certainly we wouldn’t have been able to make it without you. It goes without saying that I will give a good word about your company to any friend and acquaintance planning to visit Cub. The highlights of the trip were the tour in the old American convertible car, Chef Ivan’s restaurant, 1514 restaurant in Trinidad and the Mercedes house in Trindad. All the best!”
Biland Sadek

“Fernando, just wanted to say that the Cuba trip was really beautifully organised – thank you. As a way of getting a full range of experience in a relatively short time, meeting some truly lovely people and not feeling too stretched the itinerary was, as I said earlier, a masterpiece of the genre. Your contacts in Cuba – especially Hernan, Pedro, Nelson, Susette and Ronel – were wonderful . And as for arranging for Beyoncé to be in the same hotel … seriously, it was superb”
Ian Henderson

“We wanted to thank you for the amazing experience that you provided for us in Cuba. I have travelled to Cuba many times in the past for work but did not realise the beauty of the island until you let us in on the secret locations and hidden gems. Bayamo was a beautiful and amazing surprise and we are so glad that you convinced us to go, otherwise we would have missed out on some amazing natural beauty. We were also very impressed by the knowledge and information learned from both the architectural tour and the Hemingway tour which showed us Havanas glory from times passed. Lastly, even though Cuba is not known for its culinary delights (something I can attest to during my previous trips to Cuba), we were astounded with the restaurant selections given to us by your company. We were particularly impressed by La Guarida, with its beautiful arty interior and amazing food/wine selections. The whole experience has left us both in love with the island,and proved that there is plenty more to see, we will certainly be returning.”
Medusa Management

“We had a wonderful trip and Fernando researched the best guides, hotels, restaurants and experiences for us. Every single booking that you arranged was exceptional”
Lisa Seattle USA

“You guys are the best!….we actually got you a present to say thank you for what you did for us!!!!  Really, no joke, we are lucky enough to travel around the world with our jobs and get to enjoy some fantastic places but what you had organised for us, the people we met etc made Cuba the best holiday we have been on!”
Cordelia London, Xmas 2012

“Happy to recommend your company. Cuba was amazing and we had a great time – even at Villa Maguana! The beach and location were fantastic. The drivers and all the things we did were spot on as were the great restaurants. We are really happy with the outcome and it was so well organised by you and your team.”
Martyn Dawes, London W2

“We had a great time and as you might expect – came home far more tired that when we left. Sobering place but rich in a lot of ways. I do plan to go back and will certain to reach out when we do. Thank you to you and your team for all your efforts and hard work to make it a great experience. And I will be certain to refer you to my peers – many of whom want to go too.” Take it easy,
MH, Bahamas

“Fernando, hey wanted to let you know the trip was amazing and we had the 2 best guides in Cuba.  I would 100% suggest ALL your clients to use them as they made the trip very special and their English was fantastic and they were 10 times better than the guides I used last time. Wanted to let you know as they were fantastic. Thanks again and great trip!”

“We’re back as of yesterday – refreshed, awakened and entirely thankful for your effort. Cuba is like none other, and our trip was accordingly thoughtful and full. More importantly, I want to commend Jorge and Danette for their tireless effort and good cheer. They were central to our experience and I only hope will remain in touch. I have already recommended Esencia to others and would be happy to serve as a reference Thank you again for dealing with all of us and enabling this memorable trip.”
OW, Boston USA

“I just returned from a trip to Cuba arranged by Essencia Group and I was very impressed with the overall service and organization. The trip was perfectly organized by Fernando and Debora made sure that I had everything I needed in Havana. Sara, who took me on art tours and artists’ studios, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the arts scene in Cuba. She is very professional and at the same time warm and welcoming. It was a pleasure to spend time with her. The hotel and restaurant recommendations were spot-on. I would definitively recommend Essencia Group for any travel to Cuba.”
Heike Moras

“First of all let us thank you for the excellent organisation. We were able to combine our cigar passion with an extremely good program to get to know more on Cuban history, culture, lifestyle, architecture, art, sport, etc. We always felt treated or even ‘pampered’ in the very best way: Alfredo as the perfect ‘frontman’, Benet controlling everything, solving problems and opening all doors for us, and you, Fernando, organising the overall program. We will of course recommend you to our friends and partners and, when we will return, we will contact you for granted!” Warmest regards to all of you,
Bruno and Urs

“Thank you so so much again for setting me up with two absolutely wonderful tours for my trip to Havana. They were really so fantastic, and you and Debora could not have been nicer to me on my trip there. I will recommend you enthusiastically to all who ask!”
Alexandro Cox, Cambridge, UK

“We just wanted to thank you for arranging our last minute trip to Cuba. Everything was outstanding.  Lucy , what a nice contact. She did a wonderful job setting up the bike trip. We cannot say enough about how fantastic our trip guides, Victor and William were. We loved Cuba and will go back soon..”
Joan & Rob, Canada

“Planning an island tour of Cuba with a boisterous 2 year old seemed a daunting task to tackle independently, which is why we first contacted Esencia to plan an itinerary that would incorporate expert local knowledge on suitable accommodation as well as ensuring that we didn’t miss out on all the varied treats that Cuba has to offer. We certainly weren’t disappointed. The Casa Particulars arranged for us were very child friendly, with our son treated like one of the family from the moment we arrived. Escencia ensured we had the right combination of privacy and easy access to our son’s room wherever we stayed.  Anyone planning on visiting Cuba with a small child should not be deterred by any expected inconvenience.  It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could have been more accommodating or welcoming wherever we journeyed.”
J Russell, Jersey, UK

“Earlier today, whilst smoking a fragrant Cohiba, sipping a strong Espresso and reminiscing on a truly memorable trip, I felt compelled to write and thank you for you kind assistance with our trip to Cuba. As our first visit there we were all amazed at the slick, courteous and knowledgeable service we were proffered. It really is a fascinating island and I believe we saw a rare side of Cuba that only enhanced the experience.  The choice of restaurants, bars, excursions and shows were perfectly suited to our needs and I repeat that the people on hand to escort us were a match for any VIP tour I have ever experienced.

I hope I can sum it up when the night after we left, the 6 of us were sat in a typically Americanised, characterless, sterile “grand” hotel in Bermuda and each one of us wanted to turn round and fly back to Habana! Our compliments and sincere thanks to all who put in such an effort to make our visit most memorable.”
D Smith, Hayward Aviation

“Muchas gracias to the entire Esencia team for making our dream for a fabulous Cuban holiday come true.  Every aspect of our travel arrangements was handled perfectly… from booking us a fantastic hotel suite to arranging an excellent guide for our excursions to obtaining the best seats for eight amazing  performances at the Habana International Ballet Festival.  Our local contact, Gilberto Guada, was magnificent, and we genuinely look forward to enjoying his fine services again on future trips to Cuba.”
Ken, San Francisco  

“We have had some tremendous feedback and everyone said how much they enjoyed their adventures in Cuba. Your team worked extremely well with ours and the service levels were a high standard. I put my trust in you that a great job would be done and I was not disappointed; thank you personally for all your hard work – I know from experience that it is. You took most of the burden off myself, so that I could relax too knowing that everything would work out perfectly.”
Ranald Macdonald, Owner, Boisdale of Belgravia

“Esencia took a few of us on an ecological mission to a wilderness well away from anything recognisable as civilization.  Trees with thorns the size of my thumb,  insects the size of my hand, on the back of an ancient lorry that bumped over a recently dug road.  Then with a couple of locals using a machete hacking our way through the dense, impenetrable tropical forest. For me, wonderful, extremely challenging but memorable.  What can I say? ¡Viva Cuba!”
Peter Hall, Professor, University Of Strathclyde Glasgow

“To be blunt … If you haven’t traveled to Cuba yet, you gotta do it. What an exhilarating place!  And if you do go or want to return, as I have time and again, you must do it through Esencia Experiences. They have provided the very best in arrangements – travel, accommodations, music, culture and cuisine – from Santiago de Cuba in the southeast, to Vinales in the northwest and from Cienfuegos on the south coast to the white sand beaches of Varadero and Havana in the north.  In short, they’ve got the experience; they’ve got the place covered.”
David Soul, Actor

“Cuba was intoxicating and the Esencia team looked after us wonderfully and were always at hand”
David Wright, Entrepreneur

“I find Cuba irresistible because of its passionate and colourful cultural heritage. As a restaurateur I would always steer clear of the world’s mainstream “all inclusives”, however Esencia’s team with their local specialist know-how showed me a different perspective: that Cuba has many great attractions and indeed a great culinary tradition. Without fail the team at Esencia have made every experience unique, rich and memorable and we continue to return to the island and rely on their wealth of knowledge and experience.”
Brian Bendix, CEO, Stambac International

“What a great trip we had thanks to you, Giselle and Rene our driver/ guide. Your programme was perfect for the time that we spent in Cuba.  What a place! Anne and I loved it.  Thank you for making our trip so memorable.”
Mark Stewart, Filmmaker

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