HAVANA,July 28th (Granma) With the promise of being a new attraction for national and international tourists, combining sports, leisure, and entertainment, the first Cuban cable ski park will be inaugurated on August 11.
With five towers, seven hook up points, capacity for up to 110 skiers per day (12 simultaneously), and an area of more than 7,000 square meters, the water skiing cableway, located in the northern Jardines del Rey resort, will contribute to the diversification of Cuban tourism products.
A cable skiing system makes it possible to learn and practice water skiing and wakeboarding at a constant speed, over a course that covers a distance of up to 530 meters. The skier’s rope and handle are pulled by a horizontal electrically-driven cable, up to ten meters above sea level.
According to Lilliam Rangel, sales specialist of the CON-IMPEX GmbH & Co. KG Group, responsible for the construction of this new attraction, along with the Cuban extra-hotel enterprise Palmares S.A, located southeast of Cayo Guillermo, the contract for the project was signed at the end of 2014. The first materials arrived in March 2015 and construction and assembly works began last September.
The expert emphasized the innovative character of the cableway, as, in addition to offering the possibility to travel over an equivalent distance of up to 4,000 kilometers daily, it will allow for the hosting of international sports competitions, and become a center for water ski training.
Understood as a revolution in the world of water sports, cable skiing is sure to continue to gain ground in Cuba. Rangel noted plans to develop similar facilities in different areas of the country, including Havana, Varadero and Cienfuegos. “The latter will be the most immediate,” she explained.
The international experience in this field shows that the product is more popular when sold as an exclusive visit of no less than three hours, which allows the client to ski and enjoy a range of gastronomic offers to recover the energy consumed in the process: sandwiches, hamburgers, snacks, energy drinks, juices, ice cream, shakes, and coffee.
According to Yaima Abreu, Palmares commercial director, beyond joining other non-hotel products in the north of Ciego de Ávila, including a dolphinarium and a climbing tower, the cable ski park, erected on piles in the sea, will offer a gastronomic and photography service and will make a particularly popular practice in Europe available to visitors.
Meanwhile, Palmares marketing specialist in Ciego de Ávila, Yinet González, assured that the cable park will be promoted by the country’s different travel agencies, tour operators, airport terminals, tourist offices abroad, national and international airlines, hotel chains, transport companies and bed and breakfast accommodation, among others.
She noted that in some cases, it will be included at an added cost as part of hotel packages in the Jardines del Rey tourist resort.
Made a popular practice thanks to German engineer and skier Bruno Rixen in the 1950s, cable skiing is enjoyed today across more than 336 points in 56 countries. Skiing at the first Cuban cable park will cost visitors between 10-50 convertible pesos, according to the time or type of skiing, and there will be only two requirements for its use: that the client knows how to swim, and is aged between seven and seventy.
González explained that this is a unique product in Cuba, located in a very well-marketed facility in Jardines del Rey: the Cayo Guillermo dolphinarium. “There are also safety measures that must be taken in order to avoid risks, such as the obligatory use of life jackets, and the presence of a rescue boat in case the client falls off the rope. On the other hand, there is a beginners’ course, in which one can learn, which is separate from that used for skiing.”
The eco-friendly tourist product is also very feasible within Jardines del Rey, as it can be practiced by almost anyone and the resort receives a high percentage of senior tourists. As a curious fact, Rangel added that Bruno Rixen himself today is over 80 and still water skiing.
In addition, Cayo Guillermo also has a kitesurfing school. “There is great potential among the large numbers of clients who for years have attended the kitesurfing school and have already shown interest in the new option, as it is more complete. There we intend to include the water skiing modalities to complement the possibilities.
“CON-IMPEX imports the product from the Rixen Cableways company and brings it to Cuba. It is an entity with solid experience, which brings specialists to train Cuban instructors. The cable ski is an invention that came after many investigations, technological contributions and the solution of multiple technical problems,” González concluded.