A Grand Tour of Havana’s Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel

Havana is known for an exciting, authentic look into the history of Cuba in the present day.

With historical buildings and cars that look like they are straight out of your favourite 1950s movie, it’s an experience like no other.

Havana is a city that’s raining with charm and if you haven’t been, it’s a must go to city. While in Havana, you can experience a lot of different urban adventures and a mix of relaxation, especially if you are staying in the city at the appropriate hotel.

Enter The Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel in Havana

With the beautiful mix of old and new in Havana, even after 500 years, it seems to be a growing city that is still filled with a lot of potential.

Potential for more tourism, restaurants, economic growth, and even more unique experiences. I believe we are at the beginning of a big wave of newness to hit Havana that still respects the charm, but enhances the full experience of being in the dynamic urban city.

From my eyes and my experience, I believe the first big step on the forefront of such a change is the new 5-Star Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel. It’s a grand hotel located just a few minutes from the city centre of Havana. It’s a statuesque building that really stands out in its contrasted environment of statues, coastline and walking promenade, Paseo De Marti, running along one of the main streets of Havana.

With the unique aesthetic that has been crafted in Havana over time, the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel respects the original crafted design of the former constructed building but adds a modern touch that expands out beautifully from the top of the hotel.

It reminds me of the Canadian architect, Frank Gehry, mixing old with new, authentic with modern and I just love that look. It is wonderful respect for the heritage mixed with a new and exciting look and timeless design.

See Our Video Tour

The Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel gets its historical foundation from the originally named Biscuit Hotel, which opened in 1911. Then, 20 years after, it became the Packard Hotel. Today, the more than the century-old building has had a major update and upgrade, and with that, a new more ‘grandiose’ name needs to be showcased.

The Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel has two admirable façades, one to pay homage to the original foundation, reviving it to a wonderful new vintage. The second, a modern upper section of the hotel that brings more modern glass and metal structures that houses the Star Prestige rooms, the very best rooms that have an even better view than the already stunning, panoramic sun deck view from the El Faro Pool Bar.

This 5-star luxury hotel in Cuba showcases 321 suites that are expansive in size, each with a great view of the city or El Morro Castle.

Entering into the grand lobby, through these mirrored sliding doors surprises and delights you. You first see yourself, about to start your adventure at the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel first and then when the doors open, the ceiling expands to review a 4 floor-high lobby.

If you are staying in the traditional rooms, you head to the left, if you are staying in the Star Prestige, then you head up to the 10th Floor, the Cosmos Level.

Room 1067 of the Star Prestige Collection

I was lucky enough to stay in Room 1067 of the Star Prestige Collection.

The room started out with a white corridor of storage and a mirror and continued to a spacious room with a long desk built into the wall along the right side with the comfortable bed and a yellow-accented chair and modern glass table towards the window. Stepping out onto the balcony completed the wonderful hotel suite experience with a beautiful view of the El Morro Castle and street underneath where you could see as far as the water, which made for great sunrises and sunsets.

Turning back to the room, you had the modern bathroom with the door to the waterfall shower, separate bathroom and his and her bathroom. There are also more spacious suites as well that give you more living space just in case you are looking to accommodate more people.

The Amenities of The Grand Packard Hotel

There was nothing short of things to do in Havana, Cuba. There is plenty to explore outside of the hotel. But, what about inside the hotel?

The Grand Packard houses four restaurants, The Clipper, The Biscuit Hotel, Spanish and Tradiciones Restaurant but you can also get snacks and meals at the El Faro Pool bar or enjoy room service as well.

It also hosted a lovely amount of bars, a wonderful pool deck and more traditional experiences for you to enjoy during your say.

Some of my favourite experiences at the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel

Here are some of the activities and experiences that I personally enjoyed and recommend if you are staying at this grand hotel.

Starting off my day in the gym/fitness area

You can spend the cooler morning temperatures in the fitness room, stretching out after the flight. You could work on your pump on various new machines or tone up with activities like CrossFit, Zumba or dance therapy. There was a personal trainer on-site too to help you with your form and fitness if you needed help or a second opinion.

Dinner at the Tradiciones Restaurant

A lot of people are deterred from the food being bad in Cuba. People love the experiences of the beach, the friendly people, the sunshine and the proximity to Canada, but they either are deterred away from Cuba for the food or won’t come back.

However, I am pleased to report that the dinner at the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel has officially fixed the problem. I had the Fresh Eddo, the Cuban Rice and a wonderful mousse dessert that was chocolate and coconut, one of my favourite dishes of the week.

I have been to Cuba before, so I can tell you that the food at the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel as fixed the plaguing stigma of Cuban food being ‘not good’ and ‘bland’.

Enjoying A Cocktail at the El Faro Pool Bar

The El Faro pool bar is an instant classic. If you go on Instagram, you can see people loving the rooftop bar, including me. Not only it’s a great way to see the water and look down onto the Cuban streets, but it’s also an even better way to relax above the hustle and bustle. It provides a beautiful vantage point for the beautiful sunsets that occur once the sun goes down.

As the sun is up and shining down on the popular Cuban city, it makes for a beautiful time to enjoy the sun-kissing warmth. The El Faro also includes nicely placed lounge chairs that are both located in and out from the pool, so you can stay cool if you would like. It’s an easy way to spend a whole day at the Iberostar Grand Packard, socializing, catching up on the book you wanted to read or just to enjoy some vacation beverages. Here as well you can catch glimpses (you will have to stand up from your lounger), of the El Morro Castle and the bay.

The pool is heated, however, it doesn’t receive much sun from the overhang design of the upper section of the building.

You will find a lot of people laying, relaxing and reading on the private lounge area, exclusive for hotel guests.

Suggested Cocktails: Cuban Coffee for a great late morning relaxing kick to start your day and enjoying a Mojito or Grand Packard cocktail at Sunset.

Activity at the Cigar Bar

If you love cigars, very few things beat a classic Cuban cigar.

If you are looking for a timeless cigar experience with some of the best cigars in the room, celebrate at the cigar bar with a Cuban rolled cigar of your choice. The welcoming cigar lounge provides a great ambiance for the hand-rolled cigar of your choice.

This is the most modern experience I have had when it comes to cigars. The cigar lounge is located on the main floor and it’s stunning. As soon as you large glass doors, the beautiful aromas start to fill your nose slowly.

It is a lounge featuring beautifully high-end, aged rums, a bar, a glass-enclosed humidor playing host to classic Cuban cigar brands like Cohiba, Romeo Y Juliet, Partagas, Juan Lopez and more. The design is really tied together with the experience as a large tobacco leaf accents the whole back wall of this beautiful lounge.

Suggested Cigar: Juan Lopez Cigar + Santero Anejo Cuban Rum

The Spa at The Grand Packard Hotel

If you don’t find relaxing at the pool and pool deck relaxing enough, enjoy a spa treatment. I experienced a full body massage and facial and it was just what I needed to start my trip of relaxation.

What To Do Around Havana

The Iberostar Grand Packard is closely located to so much around Havana.

It’s just a few minutes to the capitol building, museums, bars, restaurants, jazz spots, souvenir shops, city squares and much more.

You can enjoy walking around or take a tax ride and tour in a Classic Car.

Just to give you a quick snapshot, if you wanted to eat outside of the hotel, there are so many restaurants within a 10-minute  walking radius. Besides that terrific convenience, you can find yourself surrounded by terrific art venues too.

The National Fine Arts Museum and Museum of the Revolution are great a great afternoon if you are a history buff. If you like to venture out and take in the traditional scenery around Havana.

If you are looking for a full list of excursions you can do, they can be found on Sunwing Vacations’ website.

Organizing Business Retreats, Conferences and Meetings

Have a conference that you are organizing and need an interesting space to hold it? Looking to host your top salespeople for how well they performed?

The Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel gives you the flexibility of space, business and conference spacing, technology, wifi, and flexible spaces. Perfect for those working in the MICE segment and tech industries.

They have a presentation room that’s just off from a gorgeous atrium space, making it easy to have a reception before or after a big pitch.

The kitchen spaces from the restaurants on the main floor make catering easy as well.

Space can be expanded from a smaller to larger room based on how many people are flying down. You can even impress VIPs with 10th-floor suites as well in the Star Prestige area.

Getting to Havana, Cuba

If you are looking to get to Havana, Sunwing can help get you there! Sunwing provides vacation packages to Havana from 24 airports across Canada, including daily flights from Toronto and Montreal to Varadero. Once you touch down in Varadero, you’ll hop on your complimentary transfer with Sunwing Experiences to head to Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel in the capital city!

If you are looking for tours around Havana or excursions to enjoy, Sunwing Experiences provide some enjoyable excursions within and from Havana to other great places in Cuba.

If you are traveling with Sunwing Airlines, and if you are tall like me at 6’2″, you are going to want to enjoy a more spacious experience.

If you go with the Elite Plus seating for $50 more per trip, but it gives you more legroom, advanced seat selection (so you can get off the plane to warmer weather faster), increased baggage allowance, and priority baggage handling.

If you are looking to book your vacation to the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel on Sunwing Vacations, visit this website.

The Bottom Line

Seeing Havana in a different way was an absolute pleasure, it gave me the ability to have some much needed time to explore that you just can’t do properly on a guided tour for two hours.

The thing is about the guided tours, they only bring you to particular areas, learn about the most popular references to Havana, but they don’t give you time to feel anything towards the city. The tours are just too fast-paced and structured. Havana is best explored with time. It’s a place with a lot of beauty, interest, and vibrancy to it. It’s a city unlike any other I have been to before.

With the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel, you are in the middle of the action.

It makes for a great spot to go and come back to your room if needed. It’s a great place to relax, while you enjoy other aspects of Havana. The quality of ingredients, service, and hotel accomodations were terrific and best I have ever had in Cuba. The food was surprisingly good in the hotel, the drinks were refreshing and flavourful and the experiences there were somethings that are unique to the Grand Packard, like the modern cigar experience.

The hotel is great for couples looking to come down to Havana to explore and relax, groups coming down to enjoy the sun, wedding parties, and business groups as well.

For more information about the Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel, be sure to visit their website for more information.

Read More Canadian Luxury Stories: