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I've been here many many times, it's a no frills resort , always met great people, this place is all what you make it. Not for the beach enthusiasts ! They are trying to improve each year! With the right company you can have a blast , not 100's of people like other resorts! The staff are friendly, and our room always clean, the food has improved over the years!
The 547 reviews below are mostly filled with opinion good and bad. This review is different. It is mostly fact. Read them all and form your own opinion.In February of 2017, Don Lino was under construction with four new chalets being built. Our tour company, Hola Sun did not inform us and because of the construction our room often did have water at all and the pressure was so low showering was impossible. One day we had no electricity. Anita, our Hola Sun representative never showed up at the resort. Draw your conclusions about how much they care about customer service. A promised included evening tour never materialized either. The hotel staff however were superb and always attentive to our concerns.It was some 35 years ago that we first came to Don Lino, a hotel at the end of the earth, about an hour east of Holguin city. The location is believed to be where Christopher Columbus first made land in the Caribbean. 35 years ago the hotel was a series of rustic cabanas on a beach with a replica of Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria in the bay. Today, Don Lino has changed little from its origins. The ship replica is gone, but it is still very rural and the people both at the hotel and in the nearby towns are pleasant and helpful. The hotel is mostly for Canadians and Cubans with the occasional German tour bus passing through. Our room was in a series of newer chalets with 2 upper and 2 lower rooms. The rooms are wood lined with 2 double beds, a room air conditioner, bedside tables, a chest of drawers, a mini fridge, a safe and a bathroom with a tub with a shower unit. there are no phones. There is a television but no stations to watch. Mind your Ps and Qs if you stay at the chalets as the walls are thin. On day three we were transferred to a cabana right on the beach. This is the original Don Lino resort. Most of these have regular Canadian guests who come and make improvements during their stay. Many have screens on the windows. The room has a small living area with an old tubed TV (it worked a little better than the flat screen in the chalet), 2 lounge chairs, a huge King bed, the bathroom has a shower only. There are no bedroom windows in the cabanas unless you get an end one and ours had a musty smell. If you are light sensitive bring some tape to cover the LED on the air conditioner.There is no internet. For some like me, that is a very good thing, for young people it might be a Facebook hell although Canadians can pay exorbitant roaming fees if they are experiencing withdrawal or head into town for some free WiFi.Don Lino has a new-ish small pool and a new dining room built in traditional barn style. The dining room has a grill as well as a decent buffet. The service is wonderful. The red wine is Spanish and is pleasant. This is Cuba and you are staying at a 3-star hotel so expect the same things on offer at the buffet each day with some small variations. At breakfast, the young lady will make you a killer omlette to order. At lunch the grill may have chicken, pork or fish. I must report that the food was the best I have had in Cuba. Often there was also ox tail or lamb available too. If you need jam, peanut butter, hot sauce or your high bran cereal bring it with you. While you are at it, bring anything of a personal nature you will need because you will not be able to buy it here. The tienda (shop) is small and has a very limited supply of rum, cigarettes, cigars and souvenirs.There is now an option for supper. A new a la carte restaurant is open serving Cuban seafood with a surf and turf option (which reminded me more of a blue ribbon). The night we were there it was half empty. The food was fine the first night but cold the second night we dined. If you don't mind paying, there are several restaurants in the town of Playa Blanca including the pretty Marlin Azul about 800 metres from the hotel.The hotel has a small pool with an even smaller children's wading pool near the now abandoned old dining room, but the space is still open and is delightfully quiet. The beach is pretty but if you want to swim you will need water shoes as the bottom is dead coral. A better swimming beach is Playa Blanca almost 2 kilometers away (the sign says one kilometer but that is to the town of Playa Blanca). Take a 3 CUC carriage rideThere is no money exchange at the hotel so repeaters bring Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs) with them. You cannot buy them out of the country so go to the cambio at Holguin airport or be prepared for a long taxi ride to a bank (bring your passport and tourist card – do not accept torn bills, as they will be refused). They do not accept bank or credit cards issued from a US banks (the American's idea, not theirs).For tours we usually take taxis. They can be a lot cheaper than a bus tour if there are two couples and you can go where you want. At Don Lino, a half day tour to Santa Lucia, a town nearby was 20 CUC in a coche - a horse-drawn carriage. Many of the taxis in the area are either bicycle taxis or coche.FOR THE FIRST TIMERS: I often joke that Cuba is just one big health and safety violation. The floors are uneven, there are many unnecessary and unmarked steps up and down. They run water pipes and electrical conduit across sidewalks and grass unannounced, the wiring is atrocious and the plumbing worse. There are holes in the sidewalks so be careful especially at night. There are many shortages and nothing works the way you expect. If you cannot deal with this, I recommend the Holiday Inn. There are no Holiday Inns in Cuba. There are now 4 and 5-star hotels in Cuba that may not have these issues, providing you remain on the hotel property.People returning to Cuba year after year, know to bring things you can't find in Cuba such as flashlights, sunscreen, facecloths, hot sauce, jam, peanut butter, resealable bags, re-usable containers, toothpaste, and often shampoo, body wash, conditioner and body cream. Check to see if your hotel offers hair dryers. Our first room had one, our second did not. Some units have 110V and 220V outlets that look identical. In the chalet room the only outlet in the bathroom was 220V that would fry a 110V shaver or hair dryer.That said, the reason my partner and I have been coming to Cuba for the past 40 years is because of all of the above and more. Three-star hotels in Cuba are an affordable adventure and you will meet the amazing Cuban people who have been able to remain independent of the cultural imperialism that is now everywhere in the Caribbean. EXCURSIONS: It seems people mostly organize their own. The day rate for a taxi is $45 plus a tip. It's a fantastic bargain if you can find another like minded couple. Talk to the drivers they don't all speak English. The horse-drawn coche and pirate cabs sit under a tree just off the property. Coches are good for going to the beach in Playa Blanca. The pirate taxis are unlicensed and the vehicles are old and may be dangerous. They will not have seat belts.ACCESSIBLITY: The bus to the hotel is not accessible. Taxis are available but people in wheelchairs must be able to transfer from the chair to the taxi with assistance. Don Lino can be accessible for those with moderate mobility issues. The new dining room and the lobby and hotel service area is fully accessible, even to those in wheelchairs. Some of the sidewalk cuts are non-standard but do work. The older Cabanas are accessible with one step up or down. The new 4 room buildings are not accessible on the upper floors with two steps to the rooms on the main floor. The pool is only accessible via two ladders. There are no steps. The rooms with bath tubs are not accessible for people with even moderate mobility issues as the grab bars are not properly placed.
The Villa Don Lino resort is a disaster. We felt like we were held hostage to the staff's whims, or lack thereof, and their total absence of service/hospitality. We have been visiting Cuba since the year 2000 and have enjoyed every visit, except this one. A dead dog washed up on the beach with a noose around it's neck. A few days later a dead cat washed up on the beach. The fire alarm outside of our 4 plex went off 5 times out of a 7 day trip, for no reason/no fire, and the last time it went off it was 4:30 a.m! The 2 doors to our room are locked using the key from both the outside and the inside, which means if there really was a fire you better know where your key is and be able to unlock that door pretty quickly to get out safely. We were without water 4 times within the same trip. The dishes were filthy, streaked with grease/oil that did not come off in the wash cycle, when I requested clean plates they looked at me as if I was an imbecile. The rooms are just as filthy. There are a variety of farm animals wandering free range and their poop is EVERYWHERE. The grass is at least 7 inches tall, and the grounds are a mess. We thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into going to a Cuban 2 star resort as we have stayed at the Islazul Club Los Delfines in Varadero 6 times and Islazul Cameleon Villas Jibacoa once. This hotel is a disgrace and should be taken off of the vacation options grid. We are beyond disappointed.
Pros & cons. First the staff & locals are really friendly. The place is small & comfortable the buildings are dated but kept clean. With any review of Cuba, you have to remember the difficulties the Cubans face getting supplies we tourists have come to take for granted. The food was just average & the buffets had trouble keeping hot food hot. There was always freshly made items at the grill, so we never went hungry as salads & fruit were available. The a la carte restaurant was closed when we arrived, but my wife got her lobster on the last day when it opened. On to the room, very basic, very quiet, however the lack of light for reading & decent chairs for sitting on the balcony, was kind of annoying. We were never able to lock the door from the inside & no one showed up to open the safe so we could secure passports etc. As I said before, we didn't let this bother us as we accepted this as Cuba. We had an ocean view bungalow which was the top floor of a 4 plex so got to see the ocean over the roof of the row of beach bungalows. The resort has one pool which was never really busy & the entertainment was very limited, but that was ok with us as we wanted the quiet & relaxation. The 24 hour snack bar was good for getting a drink at any time & the fries were good, but the burgers didn't look too appetizing. Of course the beach is great as long as you realize you can't run into the ocean as there is a coral reef running along most of the beach, but it's great for sun bathing. Usually quite windy but no bugs. There is a wonderful beach, Playa Blanca 11/2 kms away, where you can swim all day. This is a 6 peso round trip on a horse & wagon taxi, really neat. We took 2 tours, one to old sugar factory where we got to ride on an 1882 steam train & get pics of old steam engines, fantastic. Ended up in Holguin & visited the Hill of the Cross. We also hired a private taxi a 1955 Chevy BelAir, with a driver Daniel who spoke good English & explained everything we were curious about. We ate out one night at a local restaurant Marlin Azul in nearby Playa Blanca which was owned by one of our taxi drivers, very nice. All in all we had a great week in the Cuban sun at a good price. Would we go back to the Don Lino, maybe, now we know more of what to expect. It certainly wasn't a luxury resort & we didn't expect that, but there were a few basic annoyances. We went with Sunwings from Calgary & the service was good, on time even early coming home.
This was our first time back to Don Lino in 2 years. We stayed in rooms across from the pool and found them a little larger than the bugalows we stayed in last time. They are currently building more bungalows behind where our rooms were but the constuction did not interfere with our vacation in any way. The big bar and restaurant accross from our room were very near ready to open and I assume they will be by February.The staff at the resort are excellent and were willing to help us in any way. We were very surprised when some of them recognized us from our first trip and remembered us by name!It is a quite resort but we were a group of 18 and easily found ways to amuse ourselves on and off the resort. Many reviews mention Playa Blanca and it is a beautiful beach near the resort. Cayo Bariay across the bay is well worth a visit for the Indian show, archeological dig, Mirador (lookout) and beach.All in all another pleasant stay.
Vacations packages include round-trip flights, accommodations, round-trip transfers (unless outlined below) to and from the hotel, and tourist cards (if required, unless outlined below).
If selecting an all-inclusive resort option, the package will also include the all-inclusive features as outlined by each resort.
Items not included:
- Travel insurance (mandatory if traveling to Cuba)
- Tourist cards ($10USD)if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing Airlines
- Departure taxes ($20USD) if traveling to Dominican Republic with Sunwing or Signarture Vacations
- Hotel transfers for packages with WestJet to USA (with exception to Honolulu)
- Hotel transfers for packages to Europe
- Items of a personal nature
- 3 Meals daily plus snacks
- All drinks (domestic beer & cocktails)
- Daily activities
- Nightly entertainment
- Tennis courts
- 36 cabana style bungalows
- 1 Buffet Restaurant
- 1 Snack bar
- 2 Bars
- 1 Pool (with children's area)
- Games room
- Tennis courts
- Sport area for playing baseball and beach volleyball
- Horseback riding (fee)
- Bicycles (fee)
- 2 Twin beds
- Satellite TV
- Safety deposit box (fee)
- Bathroom with shower only
- Max occupants 3 (no more than 2 adults)
Resort Location Map
- Hotel Contacts
- Extra Info
Playa Blanca, Rafael Freyre, Rafael Freyre Cuba
Some restaurants may be open for certain meals only and limited visits may apply. Reservations required and dress code in effect for a la carte restaurants. Time restrictions may apply for water sports.
Child pricing may only be available with select tour operators and valid for select dates and durations. Child pricing rules are subject to change without notice. Please contact one of our vacation specialists if you require assistance with child pricing.
Photo identification and/or credit card or cash deposit may be required at check-in for incidental charges.
Extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on hotel policy. Rollaway beds and cribs (infant beds) may be available and should be requested at the time of booking; fees may apply.
Special requests are subject to availability upon check-in. Special requests cannot be guaranteed and may incur additional charges upon check-in to fulfil.
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