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A quaint little resort in an idyllic setting, however not up to International standards
Avaliou em 30 de Janeiro de 2021
With certain amount of trepidation, I decided to try to much maligned ISAZUL VILLA DON LINO, which is actually the only all-inclusive resort I have come across within the Isazul hotel chain. The cost was 42 CUC per night, for a two night stay (single occupancy, basic room) purchased on a special offer at the ISAZUL office in HOLGUIN.
The location of VILLA DON LINO is idyllic, situated right on the north coast, with its own private beach and is accessible via a 40 minute tax ride at CUC 30, from HOLGUIN (since my visit, the CUC has obviously become defunct). The potholed road from the village of Santa Lucia ( Freyre), with its abandoned “centrale”, is in poor condition and needs to be graded. The Villa Don Lino resort appears to have undergone some upgrades in recent history. The resort grounds are well tended to and the central dining hall appears to be of relatively new construction.
In the PLUS column are the attractive location, setting, well maintained grounds and friendly attitude of the resort staff. The room was spaceous, reasonably updated and adequate, in view of the price.
In the MINUS column are a number of annoyances:
1. the dedicated beach actually has a limestone outcrop that runs right down the centre of it, so it is really not possible or practical to walk right into the ocean to bath. There is small access slot, over a cement boulder, at the very right of the beach, where you can walk into the water without slipping on limestone, but that’s it. The government should consider dynamiting the outcrop in the central part of the beach.
2. the central dining hall is of sufficiently attractive construction, however the internal ventilation is rather poor with resulting kitchen smoke and grease smell permeating the dining room. The quality of the food ranges from so-so to in-edible (chicken stew with half-cooked skin and chicken bones in it). The dining hall staff were attentive. The doorman (boy) appeared to delight that he could lock the door and imprison me inside the hall (never mind fire regulations).
3. at the front bar there was NO BEER and NO ICE and NO INGREDIENTS for the standard cocktails you would expect. As a result, the level of bar service was not up to standard.
4. the behavior of many of the Cuban families left much to be desired. They cut into lines with their screaming infants, generally dress and behave in manner that turns more discriminating travelers off.
In summary, this quaint little resort has much potential, however the level of services and the behavior of other guests denote it as NOT UP TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS.
Laid back but fun
Avaliou em 21 de Fevereiro de 2020
This was our 3rd time here (m59, f56). Asked for one of the beach front rooms and regretted it. Didn't notice until sleep time but there were 20+ tree frogs in the bath, behind pictures... pretty much everywhere. slept(?) through the first night but asked to be moved the next morning. Next room was normal Cuba, couple of geckos, no bugs, no frogs, slept better.
Food was typical Cuban resort fare. No chicken which is my "go to" in Cuba but there were a few different fish offerings, beef tongue, ground beef(?)with sauce. Fresh vegetable choices were limited. What we did was, (having learned from our last visit), we stopped at a roadside stand on the way to the resort and bought some basic veggies (avocado, tomato...).
Went to Playa Blanca a couple times, awesome as usual. Nice sand, nice swimming.
Ate pizza at a pop up stand for 4 CUP. Support these if you can, they won't be there next time if we don't.
Went into Raphael town for the Farmer's Market which was interesting. Spices, garlic, stuff I wasn't sure of. Bought coffee filters for cheap at the flea market. Went into a local store for water but they didn't have. Cases of beer like you would not believe but no water. Lucked out and bought bottles of water at a restaurant.
Resort was 80% Cubans and was the funnest time I've had in Cuba. All those Guantanamera songs which i thought were for tourists were sung along to and enjoyed like I have never seen by Canadina tourists. House band was excellent.
Resort staff were more than awesome. Room was clean. Shower was hot after a while. No fridge. Going back as soon as we can. Change your money at the airport in the departure area. My wife changed money there and got .67 CUC for $1 CDN. I got .70 CUC for CDN dollars at the tienda when I bought cigars, Buy cigars at the airport. None at Don Lino this time.
Great two star, with new management!
Avaliou em 18 de Fevereiro de 2020
Hello everyone, just returned from a weeklong stay at the Don Lino and here is my review. I got this through Voyagesbergeron.com with Sunwing for 585.00$ Cdn tax in single occupancy, remember this is low season. When I arrived check in was swift and off I was to my bungalow. The room they gave me was on the second floor and everything worked. All wood planks but great for the price. The resort is small and caters mostly to older Canadians that come here for months at a time. If this is of interest to you, the prices drop significantly when you book directly with the retailer like CaribeSol or HolaSun, Transat or Sunwing for stays of five weeks or more. I have to say that this is the best food I have had in Cuba from a two star resort, understand that the shortage of fuel has created major provision problems throughout the island, for example here all week no pasta, elsewhere they could be out of rice, or something else. Interestingly I meet a chap who works on shipping boats who mentioned that they were on their third supply route to Cuba, they wired a message to the Cuban government saying that they would need to be paid for the first two shipments otherwise they would turn back, guess what they turned back. So it’s not just the US embargo that is hurting this country, they are almost bankrupt and creditors are refusing to be paid a year late. Around the resort not much to see or do, playa blanca is alright but still not a great beach, but I guess you already know that. I read below someone mention that Holguin was twenty minutes away, maybe by helicopter but trust me it will take an hour plus by car and that will also depend on how many horse and carriages are on the roads. Also I keep reading about people complaining about Cubans taking bags of food out. Of course they do, food here is in short supply on the outside, so they and their families come spend the overnight and they stock up like we do at the super market to make maximum use of their CUC’s, think about it wouldn’t you do the same? Go have a look in town of what’s available, then you will understand. I have to give the Don Lino a great review, I had always wondered why it got such a high score for a two star, not that it is perfect but it offer a family like no other place I have stayed.
Shortages really hurting Cuba
Avaliou em 24 de Janeiro de 2020
Quick background ,my wife and I have been visiting Cuba since 1987 . First a nod to all the staff at Don Lino who try very hard with what they .have. Unfortunately they dont have muchRooms were clean and functional . We only stayed 3 nights of a planned 9 night stay then escaped to Playa Coste Verde. Don Lino had no CUCs Saturday,Sunday, Monday or Tuesday when we left.No Ketchup Relish.Mustard or even pepper at the buffet.This resort is in the middle of nowhere. So not much to do in the area.There are shortages of almost everything and this hits the lower star places the worst.
Wonderful break :)
Avaliou em 24 de Janeiro de 2020
Lots of friendly staff and other travellers, seems like a home away from home for many. Lots of food, sun, beach, horse back ride, a great time ! My room was great, a fridge and balcony were a bonus. Thanks, I will be back for sure!