Occidental Miramar Was Where The GVSU Baseball Team Stayed In Havana, Cuba.
I figured I’d write a little bit about what our hotel and living quarters was like. Although I don’t have any decent pictures of the rooms the players were staying in, you’ll likely have a decent idea of the layout (more or less) when I put up some vlog posts I recorded from my stay. I unfortunately didn’t actually start taking video journals until day 4 on the trip, but when I get to that point, you’ll start seeing and hearing more about it that way.
We stayed at the Occidental Miramar. It’s a relatively new hotel in Havana, and it’s quite good. I have no idea what the prices are like, because I didn’t pay anything on the trip, but I imagine it isn’t the cheapest place to stay in Cuba.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a gorgeous lobby area that was very well designed and made the place look far richer than it actually was. There was lounge chairs and comfortable sitting areas surrounding a large fountain area in the middle, accompanied by small tables and such to put things on. The hotel offered WiFi Internet on the first floor only, however it cost roughly $8 an hour to use it (and it’s slow, so I hear). Needless to say, I wasn’t gonna pay that.
Players were assigned a roommate and filled out little slips to receive room keys. Since my trip wasn’t coming out of the same budget as the players, and because hardly anybody even knew who I was for the most part, I was actually given my own room. This was an excellent situation for me, not only because… well.. I have my own room, but also because my late hours of transferring footage and assembling equipment for the following days activities wouldn’t keep anybody awake at night. I also like to watch the news before I sleep, so CNN was turned on when I could get a moment to see it (and it was automatically cut off at 12:00 every night. Ironically (because it’s a communist country), Fox News never got cut off, and was on all night long… not sure why, but hey… it’s Cuba).
Around the back of the building was a very large pool area that, while I was there anyways, didn’t really get much use for what I can tell. At any given moment, I remember no more than 8-10 people being around the massive area, which consisted of a large patio area in the middle of two large pool sections of various depths (for kids) which was all surrounded by close to 40 poolside chairs to sit/lay on. The pool water seemed to be warm enough during the hot days, and too cold at night, likely because they shut off the heaters very early in the day (before it even got dark) to preserve electricity. Cuba is a place of limited power supply, which I’ll talk a little bit more about in a later article.
One reason why I say the lobby made the hotel look nicer than it was, was because of numerous defects and bits of destruction that were found in and around the building. The hotel’s hallways had chipped corners and many sections appeared to have had pieces of the paint peeled away. It was not uncommon also to walk over crumbling and cracked title and concrete near the pool area as well. The first floor was beautifully laid out though, welcoming guests nicely.
My room (may not mean every room) seemed to have a small electrical problem that worried me when I plugged my equipment into the wall to charge (but it had to be done, so I did it and hoped for the best). The elevator insides were wrapped in mirrors on the walls and ceiling, making it almost impossible to avoid looking at anybody else in the elevator with you. I mean, normally you’d at least say hi, but that doesn’t mean you’d like eyes always on you when people try to look forward. The doors to the elevators opened extremely fast and closed too fast during the day. Then, as if it was aware of the time, the doors would open a little too slowly and close a little too slowly durijng the evening. Sometimes, it was hard to get it to close at all.
On a much more positive note, the hotel did have musical talent near the bar almost every night. In a majority of cases (including the first night we arrived, and the last night we had in the hotel), there were some very talented (and very attractive) Cuban woman singing those amazingly exotic Cuban songs and moving their awesome Cuban hips. It was quite difficult to go into the hotel and not watch them for at least a little while. They were great singers (and yes, great dancers).
Overall, it was an excellent choice in hotel for use to stay at. You can’t be too critical of little things, and in comparison to the streets of Havana (at least from what I experienced) the bits of crumbling walls and tiles near the pool was still far more aesthetically pleasing than the surrounding areas around the hotel.