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bloomspot, a high-end GroupOn-like company headquartered in the U.S. that offers luxury travel and experiences, this morning promised to delight Americans with a glamorous trip to Cuba. For $2,988 bloomspot, through the Nevada-based Spirit Quest Tours, is selling a seven-night trip “cruising around in vintage American automobiles most likely powered by Russian-made engines, see the city as its natives do.”

bloomspot is known for offering unique (in this case, dubiously legal) trips, and prides itself on the cache of its luxury-level products. A testimonial on its website describes the bloomspot difference:

“We prefer working with Bloomspot because they emphasize a high-end experience and target a very fitting clientele. It’s not the average discount seeking customer but rather those interested in trying a new luxurious experience with a small incentive….” –Carolyn Thalin, Le Cirque, New York, NY

Once you get past bloomspot’s paragraphs of descriptions of the trip’s food, the quaint culture, and the concert by the Buena Vista Social Club, you are left with visions of a luxury vacation to a land that time has barely touched. Nowhere does Bloomspot indicate that the trip is not for pleasure, but in fact a humanitarian mission, except in the pricing, which indicates a $75 fee for a humanitarian visa. Seemingly contradictory, in the “Why” section of their advertisment, bloomspot indicates these three reasons for the trip: “Captivating driving and walking tours of Havana; Visit to UNESCO World Heritage city Trinidad, the city time forgot; and Concert by the Buena Vista Social Club.”

After substantial sleuthing, and following links OFF of the bloomspot site we finally came across the footnote that seemingly allows bloomspot and Spirit Quest Travels to send its high-end clientele to the country. In the midst of a packed eight-day schedule, there is this aside:

“We’ll each be bringing 2 lbs of medicine much needed by the locals, so we will have a chance to give it to those who are waiting to bring our humanitarian aid to Havana patients.  Then get ready for our Welcome Dinner at the Parque Central!!”

Further investigation into the travel group providing the actual trip, Spirit Quest Tours LLC, reveals that not only do they seek to “excite your mind, pamper your spirit, challenge your body and inflame your soul,” but they also “carbon offset your travel.”

This trip clearly disregards and makes a laughing-stock of the very clear U.S. embargo banning, among other things, travel to Cuba except in certain, very specific circumstances. For years, Americans have flouted this law by either traveling to Mexico or Canada before embarking to the poverty-stricken, tyrannized island, or by “qualifying” for one of the licenses granted by the U.S. government, summarized here:

  • Persons visiting a close relative
  • Journalists traveling in a journalistic capacity
  • Official government officials traveling in that capacity
  • Full-time professionals conducting research
  • Students or academics participating in specific research or educational programs
  • Religious organizations conducting specific religious activities

The U.S. government’s description of a Humanitarian Project, the license for which luxury bloomspot travelers will be paying, is as follows:

“Humanitarian Projects and Support for the Cuban People – 1) Persons traveling in connection with activities that are intended to provide support for the Cuban people, such as activities of recognized human rights organizations; and 2) persons whose travel transactions are directly related to certain humanitarian projects in or related to Cuba that are designed to directly benefit the Cuban people. Licenses authorizing transactions for multiple trips over an extended period of time are available.”

Does the conveyance of 2 pounds of medicine, duly parceled out amongst the luxury bloomspot travelers, adhere to these descriptions? As O’Reilly would say, you decide. I for one am unsubscribing from the bloomspot email list–I don’t think I measure up to the standards so adequately described by Carolyn of Le Cirque, anyways.



2 Responses

  1. bgreezy

    yeah…seriously! why the hell should citizens of the US with the means to do so visit a country arbitrarily (debate it all you want, times have changed) outlawed country with harbingers of health in hand….should they have concocted the supplies themselves? maybe we’d all be better off learning about countries second-hand through semi-educated blog posts with a penchant for google research – i say, cheers to those who choose to visit an ostracized country that, if the embargo were lifted, would be in a much better position to acquiesce to “america’s interests” in the first place. 😉


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