Tourism and Travel students expand their horizons with trip to Cuba

Memories Varadero Beach Resort

Memories Varadero Beach Resort


Sun, sand and knowledge – that’s what Sheridan’s Tourism and Travel students experienced over the mid-semester break.

Seven students from the program and two professors departed for Varadero, Cuba on Sunday, Oct. 20 for an all-inclusive seven-night stay at the four-star Memories Varadero Beach Resort.

Called a familiarization trip in the tourism and travel industry, it helps travel agents better promote and sell the destination because they have explored and experienced it themselves.

“It was a really great experience to see what you’re learning in the course,” said first semester student Hira Ramzan.

Kathryn Bell, Hira Ramzan, Matt Passakas, Danielle, Jamela Gonzales in Cuba

Kathryn Bell, Hira Ramzan, Matt Passakas, Danielle, Jamela Gonzales in Cuba

Students who participated expanded field placement and job opportunities because they gained intimate knowledge from site inspections of 19 hotels.

Students were educated on the Cuban Spanish culture and the history of Havana, which Ramzan and Jamela Gonzales enjoyed most.

“It was interesting to see behind the scenes of the hotels and the difference between star ratings,” said Matt Passakas, a first-year student.

Passakas, who’s been to Cuba before, says the trip opened up an overwhelming number of career options.

The itinerary also included dining experiences at seven hotels, two full days of free time, with the option of a city tour of Varadero, an Aquatic Ballet Show and a full-day Havana city tour. The Havana excursion included sightseeing tour in old Havana and modern Havana in addition to free time to explore the city.

“It was a phenomenal learning experience for the students and facility alike,” said Bob McElman, program coordinator. “The students were dedicated to what they were there to do.”

According to McElman, the students were also very polite, on time and left little gifts for the driver and housekeepers.

Ramzan, Gonzales and Passakas are excited to see where next year’s trip will take them.