Varadero is Cuba on growth hormones, a large and sprawling resort complex that has little or no relation to the country as a whole. The setting itself is like a paradise. A 20km swathe of unbroken white sand perched on the wafer-thin Hicacos Peninsula that could rival anything else in the Caribbean. United States chemical millionaire Iréné Dupont must have thought as much when he built his dream home here in 1930, a lavish art-deco mansion he duly christened Xanadu for its fierce ocean views and golden carpet of nearby beach. He was immediately joined by Al Capone, President Batista and anyone else in Cuba who owned money.