Teresa Sanchez -Travel Specialist
Teresa, a first generation Cuban American, first visited Cuba in 2012. A scholar of Cuban music, she lived on the island doing research until early 2014. She is passionate about Cuban history and culture in general and continues to research Cuban music in the New York City area, where she now lives.
Teresa is passionate about helping her clients have a fun and authentic experience in Cuba, whether it’s a short, last minute trip or an extended stay. She brings her personal experiences of living on the island and her enthusiasm for Cuba to the Cultural Island Travel team.
What Our Customers Say About Cultural Island Travel
My names is Teodora and I am writing to share my great experience with Teresa, who made me deciding to have my Cuba Trip in a blink of an eye.
I was just surfing on the Internet looking for places and trips for New Year’s Eve 2019. I have always wanted to go to Cuba, but never made the step towards researching.
Your company was one of the few I picked and decided to contact.
Starting with the amazingly built Cultural Island Travel Web Site, to all the testimonials and pictures there to the kind and very helpful Teresa…. My trip to Cuba was the fastest trip choice I have ever made in my life!
Teresa responded right away. Was very nice and friendly. Answer all the questions I had and quickly e-mailed me what she thought I would like. After couple more back and forth sentences it was all done….
She kindly helped with where to go and find a plane ticket, to pick my payment plan, to fill all forms and etc. ….
And here I am – already set up for the New Year’s Eve and not anywhere , but in a 5 Star Hotel in Havana, Cuba!!!
Originally I am from small country called Bulgaria, located in Eastern Europe! Our Customer Services there ( in general) is far from the one developed in the USA. I also am a traveler, been to many places, but one more time …… I have never made a trip choice so fast as this one…
I am incredible happy to travel with Cultural Island Travel!
Donna and Rob
Where do we begin? We did our homework before leaving and our four-day Cuba trip exceeded our expectations.
The Sevilla Hotel is lovely, friendly, and we learned to look forward to the music in the bar and in the lobby. The breakfast buffet lacked nothing! We loved being able to walk to dinner and to cafes nearby.
The itinerary for our 4 day trip was perfect; not too much, just enough of the things we wanted to see.
The transportation was tops! Gerardo and daughter Dianylis (I did not spell that correctly!) were wonderful and it was fun having lunch with them each day. Everything started and finished on time and that kept the day running smoothly.
Rob and I really enjoyed all the places we went for lunch, different from dinner choices. There were endless choices of new food and the lunch plan was extremely generous. At some point Rob and I had to eat less!
Our guide, Ari…where do we begin? We loved being with twenty-somethings. They support their home and country but were willing to chat outside the lines to the extent that they felt comfortable. We learned a lot from each of our guides in Old Havana, in the art museum and from Ari and novia, Ebony. SMART young people!
Ari is intelligent, relaxed and in the right job! He knows Havana’s nooks and crannies and pointed them out. He understands Americans/North Americans and their expectations and leaves no room for complaints or concerns. For Rob and me, our every need was anticipated and met! He surpassed expectations when we missed the craft market because it was closed. He and Dianylis put their heads together and took us to a wonderful flea market (for lack of a better word) where we found the Cuban flags for our nieces, posters and more! (We’d go back there…friendly, fun, intelligent vendors who wanted to talk!) Ari went above and beyond.
When others asked who we were traveling with we passed out the name of Cultural Island Travel so perhaps something good will come from that. From signing up online, asking you unending questions, getting every document we needed, that process was flawless!
Thank you for all you do! I hope we will find time next year to work with you again.
Donna and Rob
Kenton and Mitch
Thanks for helping us to organize our trip. Mitch and I had a wonderful time. Cuba is indeed mesmerizing – what an interesting mix of culture, soul, warmth and time warp. The Cuban Art Museum and the Viñales community art project were my favorite sights, although I liked everything.
Mario was a fantastic tour guide. He took very good care of us, and made sure we were all happy. Victor, Fernando, Camille, and Patricia were also helpful and knowledgeable.
We loved Maritza and Margarita’s B&B. They were awesome. Their hospitality was wonderfully motherly. Breakfast was sumptuous. Felt so comfortable at their place. They were so patient with me when I was practicing my halting Spanish, which I really appreciated. Highly recommended.
Nicholas and Regina
Thank you for your assistance with our recent Cuba trip. The tour was fabulous and Irma was an outstanding tour guide. We experienced no challenges arriving, during, or leaving Cuba. Everything was actually perfect.
Nicholas and Regina
Amy and Terry
Terry and I are most excited to write you about Ari and the tour
From the moment that he met us at the airport to our farewell, Ari was gracious, warm, informed and so personable and engaging.
Ari has a wealth of knowledge about the history and culture of Cuba in addition to a very complete list of good restaurants. If he was unable to answer our questions, he would come back the next day with the answer.
There was no question that he was unwilling to take on. For a young man, he knows a lot about human nature and how people function.
In the long and short of it, you at Cultural Island Travel have a gem in Ari. He makes everyone feel at ease.
We also both so enjoyed our tour emphasizing the music and dance culture of Cuba in addition to the gleaning the unique history of the island.
Amy and Terry
March 4th, 2017
Sorry it has taken awhile to write. Been crazy busy at work since we got back.
I’m sure Sandy covered most things with you, but really, overall it was an awesome trip, and exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Ari was fabulous and it wouldn’t have been the same without him.
We learned alot about Cuba on the trip, and appreciated everyone’s honesty.
The tour guides Ari arranged were all great.
Favorites were the Fine Art Museum, private jazz concert, convertible ride, Fusterlandia, music and dancing in Trinidad.
The private restaurants Ari took us to were awesome, and my weight gain can testify to that.
Thanks to all for making this a great trip!
Ari, say hi to Ebony for me!
March 1, 2017
Hi Teresa and Culture Island team!
My name is Cecily Fasanella and I recently went on a tour of Havana with my father Bob Fasanella, and aunt Kathy Fasanella.
I would like to express my thanks to your team, but especially Mario. From the minute we arrived he made us feel very welcome and comfortable.
Mario gave us lots of individualized attention, taking all of our likes and interests into account over the course of the trip making for an unforgettable experience. In addition to all the wonderful items planned on our itenary that we accomplished he also included a chat with Fernando a local mechanic for my car enthusiast father, great bar suggestions for my aunt, and tips how to make the most of a night at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano for me.
Mario answered my endless questions about the Spanish language, Cuban culture, and his own experience growing up in Cuba. I believe that we never would have had such an amazing and unique experience without him. He is a priceless source of information and fun. I would reccomend Culture Island, AND Mario to all friends and family (and have already) without hesitation.
Is there anywhere else I could leave a positive review of Mario and your travel group?
Nina Cummings and Allan Tannenbaum
March 1, 2017
It is with pleasure that I write a note of comment on our experience with Cultural Island Travel.
While I mostly was not involved in the intricacies and details of the trip planning and travel itinerary , the questions and issues I did pose were answered expertly and in a timely fashion. Everyone we dealt with was responsive and friendly . We appreciated being able to engage Irma as our personal travel agent , as she had come so highly recommend by Barbe’s friend Robin. Prior to the trip , Irma connected to us through Facebook and we were already positively predisposed to her due to her friendliness and willingness to engage us.
Upon meeting Irma in the airport , We were immediately impressed by her open friendliness and professionalism. She was in control of ALL the details of our needs and the upcoming travel agendas . She expertly tuned into each one of us and graciously ( without judgement ) spent the entire 8 days balancing what we wanted and needed emotionally and physically and what would be good for us to experience in Cuba.
We all fell in love with Cuba and the amazingly friendly and seemingly happy people in the country . Irma’s pride and love of her country infected all of us , and she engaged us intelligently and wisely in prolonged and deep conversations about the history and desires of the Cuban people. Each day held new and wonderful mysteries about Cuba and we all looked forward to spending the day with Irma as she exposed us to art, architecture , Cuban music and of course delicious food EVERY single day. There were NO disappointments at all. And when we ran into difficulties like our truck breaking down, losing a wallet and visa, getting ill…. Irma stayed calm, positive and was extremely professional and helpful at all times . She is wise and mature beyond her years and can handle high levels of stress with good problem solving skills and fortitude . She is unparalleled as a travel guide , and I believe all 6 of us consider her a special friend.
I would recommend CIT , Theresa and Irma to future travelers without hesitation . Our lodgings , food and overall Cuban experience surpassed all expectations . We are a highly travelled group and this trip will stand out as one of our favorite , mostly because of Irma and her warmth, intelligence and infinite patience. Cuba will forever be in our hearts . Thank you!!
Sandy Koshkin and Barbara Levin
March 3, 2017
I am happy to write a review of our fantastic trip to Cuba:
We are so fortunate to have booked our Cuba trip with Cultural Island Travel. From the beginning of making all the arrangements to the last moment at the airport, this was a trip that exceeded expectations. Teresa planned our trip with precision and was always responsive to our questions. We appreciated her expertise and professionalism.
Most important was having Irma as our travel guide in Cuba. We have traveled extensively throughout the world and Irma’s ease of connecting with our group made for a perfect beginning. She also was able to connect with other tour guides we met as well as many local people to set the tone for a rich experience.
In addition, her knowledge of history, culture and everyday life in Cuba was priceless. We had discussions that lasted the whole day without realizing how much time had passed. This will stay with us for a long time. Her enthusiasm made us appreciate the music and dancing on a daily basis.
This experience will be with us for years to come and we will highly recommend Teresa of Cultural Island Travel and Irma to anyone we know who plans to visit Cuba.
We are grateful for this opportunity.
December 8, 2016
After reading a few of the testimonials of travelers in Dec. 2016 and Jan. 2017 I would have to remark that our experience with Cultural Island Travel company was equally on par with other travelers’ comments. The representative, Teresa, was extremely helpful and patient with regard to our many inquiries, accommodated our request of different side tours, and even expedited receipt of our visas.
Our tour director for the week, Arian (Ari), was as good (if not better) than directors of other tour groups. Obviously, the company hires only top notch people as directors and drivers. All the same qualities: knowledgeable, respectful, friendly, organized, courteous, observant, flexible, etc, etc can be applied to our Ari. We included him in most meals (dinner as well) and often included our driver, Nordiel (sp?), because we enjoyed and appreciated them both so much.
Cuba itself is a unique and interesting island. In spite of a lot of Cubans being in mourning for the first four days of our trip, we still experienced fantastic meals, tours and activities. Personally, I easily got hooked on Mojitos! Our friendship with Ari expanded to his lovely fiance, Ebony, who also displayed the same high standard in a tour director.
As evident in our countless photos, our group of eleven friends returned with happy and fun memories. From meeting us at the airport to staying with us until the last possible moment of departure, Ari was fantastic! His exceptional ‘customer service’ made this unconventional, educational vacation all the more pleasant. Muchas gracias!
We are grateful for this opportunity.
Mary Alice Lynch
Flo, Teresa, Mario….
Thank you, Cultural Island Travel, for your expertise in organizing our trip…. from working with us on the itinerary, travel dates, hotel accommodations, Visas, Insurance, pre-departure information, travel affidavits, and last but not least – providing us with our guide, Mario J. Otero Acosta and our driver, Victor.
Air travel to and from Cuba went better than we could have imagined. Our accommodations were wonderful.
Your guide, Mario, and his driver, Victor, were the best!!!! Mario made sure our itinerary requests were met. The tour guides he hooked us up with at the art gallery, Old Havana’s famous plazas and UNESCO historical architectural sites, and the city tour of Trinidad were extremely knowledgable and informative.
The restaurants were five stars! From the Mediterranean Paladar, to lunch with Ivan Chef Justo, to lunch at Sol Ananda (Trinidad), to a sushi lunch at a fisherman’s home, to an organic lunch at Patio Pelegrin…. and many more lovely places not mentioned… We never had to wait to be seated. Tables were set and ready for us the moment we walked in the door. Mario introduced us to the chefs, helped us with meal recommendations, listened to and accommodated our dietary preferences.
Even though we had a busy itinerary, we never felt rushed. Mario would pick us up by 10:00. We never had to worry about the day ahead… he had everything planned out for us and more! The unexpected visit to a mechanic’s garage and a ride in a 1920 Model T was over the top wonderful!
So many wonderful memories. We loved Trinidad. The beach was beautiful. We loved driving through the country side, visiting the tobacco factory, spending time at Patio Pelegrin, interacting with the wonderful people of Cuba.
We were so comfortable with our taxi driver, Victor. He was the best!!!!
I forgot to mention how much we enjoyed the jazz concert!
Mario was more than accommodating to meet our needs. He had his phone/contacts working to give us the best possible experience we could have.
We are highly recommending that our friends consider visiting Cuba… using Cultural Island Travel and requesting Mario as their guide.
Thank you for helping make our trip to Cuba so memorable.