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alacran
25 miles north of the deep freeze, Winnipeg,Manitoba

Don Lino is like staying at the cabin at the lake

3.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 30 Apr 2008
My wife and I stayed at Don lino april 9-23 2008.Nice clean rooms with a shower only, kingsize bed a couple of dressers,a tv air conditioning and a safe with a 75 foot walk straight out the door to the beach. The beach was perfect for sun tanning or reading a book and never had more than 10 or 12 people on it the whole time we were there.We were disapointed in the ocean for you could only swim at one end and the snorkeling was a waste of time as there was very few fish to see and the corral reef is basicaly dead.We had no rain the two weeks we were there and it was very warm and it was very windy almost all the time.The food was very basic and the same almost everyday but was good and we never felt sick at all.The staff at the Don Lino is there best assit and I mean all of them from managment ,waitreses,bar tenders,maids to the grounds keepers all are freindly and after a few days know you by your name and will do almost anything to make your stay a memorable one.I made friends with one of the life guards and went to his home in Playa Blanca for a day and he treated me like family ,cooked me a nice meal with shrimp+fish.We are from a farm so we liked it here because we were in the country where there was lots of cattle,horses ,pigs, goats and chickens to see each day when my wife and I went on our daily walks.I could go on and on about everything but in sumary we went to relax somewhere safe and warm and that is what we got.Would I go back,yes just to revisit the people for just a week but we love our snorkeling and would not go there again if that was our main purpose of our holiday.
Date of stay: April 2008
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
3.0 of 5 bubblesValue
3.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
3.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
3.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesCheck-in / front desk
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
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Reviewed 23 April 2008

My friend and I were looking to get away after our exams were finished. We decided on Don Lino because it was the cheapest on selloffvacations. I was a little anxious at first because it was only 2.5 stars. Everyone I had talked to about traveling to cuba said book with a place no less than 4 star, but Don Lino was amazing!

We are experienced travelers and were not phased by the water pressure, because you quickly learn the best time to shower (supper time when everyone else is eating). We never once were bored, as we played beach and pool volleyball everyday with our entertainment guys, who were wonderful. We also learned how to salsa and every day after dinner we partied with the staff and danced the night away. We never felt stuck at the resort either, which was perfect for us, as we don't need to be entertained. We took the bikes and did our own tours the the little villages and gave candy to the children and toiletries to the women. One day we took a cab to a resort beach, which made us appreciate our place even more. Don Lino is small and private and you soon meet everyone staying there, including cuban families. We often had volleyball games with team Canada vs. team Cuba. There is also fantastic snorkeling on the other side of our little beach.

The food is just fine and the rooms are cleaned everyday. The staff are amazing and so much fun. One of the waitresses gave me a little painting she made when I left and she told me she would miss me. It was a fantastic first time to cuba and I will not hesitate to go back to Don Lino.

Date of stay: April 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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6  Thank Ottawa_Student_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 19 April 2008

I decided at the very last minute to use my last week of last year's vacation allotment and find an inexpensive AI to relax. I found the Don Lino in Santa Lucia and flew from Toronto on April 6 for a week of sun. I was a bit nervous traveling solo for the first time but my fears quickly subsided the minute I boarded the Sunwing flight and sat beside another lady traveling solo but staying at a different resort. The Sunwing flight was above and beyond my expectations for a charter flight.....hot towels, champagne, choice of wine with dinner.....WOW. Our flight ended so quickly. We arrived in Holguin an hour later than anticipated because we had to wait for a storm to pass over Florida before leaving Toronto. It was bumpy going over Florida but not too bad. We landed in Holguin at 10 pm and quickly got through Cuban customs. There were 12 guests from the flight going to the Don Lino. Upon arrival at the resort, close to midnight, they had a tray of sandwiches prepared for us and opened the lobby bar (which normally closes at 10 pm daily). I was originally assigned Room 16, which has no view except the back of the restaurant. I awoke to a beautiful day, went to breakfast and immediately sensed the friendliness of the other Canadian guests. It wasn't long before I met several people who were near the end of their stay. As luck would have it, one couple was vacating Room #2 which had a gorgeous ocean view and the front desk was happy to allow me to switch rooms. My room had a safe (free), two comfortable double beds, plenty of closet and dresser space, a full length mirror and huge bathroom with sink, toilet and shower. The tiles were worn, but the room was spotless. Each room has a verandah with chairs and a little flower garden in front. If I was sitting on the patio and a gardener passed by, he always picked a flower and presented to me. By the end of the week, I had a boquet which I lovingly displayed on my windowsill. All the staff are exceptional and go above and beyond to make your stay a pleasant one.

As was anticipated for a 2 star resort, the food selection was limited but adequate. Made to order omlettes every morning, boiled eggs, puffed rice cereal, fresh pineapple, melon and guava along with (bottled) juice and delicious coffee. They also always had regular tea and camomile herbal tea available. There was no toaster but the cook would grill some bread, if desired. There was never bacon but slices of ham, salami and cheese. It was sufficient. I found lunch to be the worst as every day it was the same, always deep-fried options: deep fried hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, deep-fried pork chops and deep-fried fish complimented only with raw cabbage, tomato and cucumber slices. After three days, my stomach rebelled at the fried food and I resorted to eating a plain tomato and cucumber sandwhich and a granola bar (brought from home). I am also diabetic so have to be careful what and when I eat. There is no sugar-free pop at the resort but I brought my own Crystal Light to add to the rum-based drinks. There are no blenders for frozen drinks and they used pina colada pre-mix. They only had red wine the week I was a guest and it was a nice red wine. The cerveza was always cold and on tap (but I'm not a beer drinker). The dinner buffet had quite an assortment: deep fried turkey on my first night. Every night there was always a pot of soup (chicken noodle), a pan of mashed potatos, squash, yucca (like potatos), beef or lamb stew, rice and beans with garlic, grilled fish, fish stew with garlic, pork chops (deep fried), chicken (deep fried), spaghetti and meat sauce. Salad never varied from raw cabbage, tomatos and cucumbers with only oil and vinegar dressing. No pepper anywhere in the resort, only salt shakers. I was told that Cubans don't eat pepper like we do but this is the first resort I've ever been to that had no pepper. Other guests brought their own condiments and freely shared their spices with whomever wanted them. The servers were very attentive, always smiling and many spoke quite good English.

The grounds and beach are beautiful, peaceful and never crowded. The resort was full all week with a mixture of Canadians from Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Fredericton and Halifax. There was an "audio room" and from there, they played an assortment of Latin/North American music...anything you wanted. Three times at dinner, they brought in singers/musical groups to entertain the diners. I met so many wonderful people during my week. I went snorkeling when the tide was in. The reef comes right up to the shore and impossible to navigate when the tide is out in the afternoon. It is a coral garden...beautiful with many varieties of fish and coral species to keep you in the water longer than you should be with the sun beating down on your back and legs. By day 2, you need to wear a T-shirt to protect yourself from the sun.

Rodolfo, one of the gardener's, would bring fresh coconuts with straws if you were sitting around the pool, then cut it open to eat the coconut inside. The horses are kept behind the Don Lino and the trail ride is picturesque and interesting.

Omar is the "animation" guy and willing to go bike riding, snorkeling or horseback riding with anyone showing an interest.

The Sunwing rep was seen only two days of the week at the resort but Yurel, the Don Lino Manager mingled with the guests all the time. He goes above and beyond to ensure everyone is enjoying their stay. He was a wonderful host. The Don Lino is also used as a training resort for new graduates of the 2-year Tourism course.

We did have two days with extremely low water pressure. We were told that the main water line burst. They pump their water supply in from Santa Lucia, 7 km away. During that time, I filled my plastic waste bucket and used a glass to dip and rinse myself off in the shower. I made do with what we had....no different than roughing it at camp. Some of the young single guys just rinced off in the pool to freshen up, lol! Only one young couple demanded to be moved to another resort because of the lack of good water pressure. They were accommodated.

The people I met were unforgetable (Carolina and Anna from Montreal; Dominique and Linda from Fredericton; Jackie and Jim from Edmonton; Mike and his brother Will from Toronto; Hing from Quebec City; Diana and her husband, daughter and neice from Hamilton, and many others.....you all made my week memorable. I came home totally relaxed and I would return to the Don Lino in a heartbeat full well knowing the little shortfalls it experiences as a 2 star. All those can be overcome with a little forethought and planning. It wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea for a vacation but it was just fine for me and my simple tastes. Next time, I would bring food for healthier lunches and snacks(canned tuna, salmon, etc). There are no fridges in the rooms and you get a 2 litre bottle of water per day from the bar but you can only keep it at room temperature.

Date of stay: April 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Value
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4  Thank Trillium
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 13 April 2008

I chose to vacation at Don Lino because it was quiet and small. For most of the week it was as expected - a beautiful beach, lovely people and quiet. On the last night of my vacation I was sitting in the bar area with some friends I had met at the resort. I went to bathroom (metres away) and the security guard was waiting for me when I left the bathroom .He grabbed me by the wrists and started kissing me. It was only when I threatened to scream that he let me go. I reported this incident to staff the next day. The police in Holguin were brought in. I was questioned in a very small back room with 8 people all speaking Spanish. The Sunwing rep was supposed to be translating - but I was only getting fragments of what was being said. I was told that I would have to stay in Cuba for 60 days to press charges. I was due to leave in 2 hours on a bus. I had to identity the man in a line up. I chose not to press charges because I couldn't physically stay in Cuba. Since returning I've been told by the Embassy that they've never heard of a case where someone has had to stay in Cuba for 60 stays. I was told a formal investigation would happen of the security guard by the security agency. I was also told that I would have been taken care of by an attorney - I wasn't told this at the time. I have no idea if if he is still working as a security guard. Sunwing has not responded to my complaints. And the Canadian Embassy sent me a link that was 'designed for women travelers' that basically says you shouldn't breast feed or wear bikinis while traveling in foreign countries with different customs. This was deeply insulting after the fact. The fact is I was assaulted by a security guard. I was also wearing a jacket zipped up to my neck. He was hired to protect me and others at the resort. I in no way led this man on - even though he told me he had been watching me all week. I am deeply worried about the safety of other women traveling - had people not been close by I'm terrified to think what might have happened. I also wish the Sunwing rep had provided me with information to call the Embassy so that I would have had legal representation. All I can say is - who is accountable? Basically no one - I won't be spending my money in the future in Cuba or with Sunwing -ever. I realize anyone can get sexually assaulted by anyone anywhere, but it shouldn't happen by the people who are hired to protect you - and there should be repercussions for their actions.

Date of stay: March 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Value
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19  Thank Torontowoman888
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 4 April 2008

My expereance at Don lino was good.Bartenders,maids,pool keeper,waitresses,grounds keeper,and front desk were awsome.The rooms were dated ,but clean.Pool was small.The guy that had the horses to ride was awsome and free.was worth it if you like to ride.Unlike some of the bigger resorts,the cubans around area did not expect anything from you.they all had something to sell or trade.Rules at Don lino change from day to day.Pool closes after dark people still in the pool,music got loader as it got later in evening.Food was pleantiful,but the same.Pinapple, watermellon ,and honeydew mellon were always there.Pinapple juice always,orange juice limited.The bar had pleanty to drink,dark rum,white rum, flavored rums,vodka,red and white wine,and beer.The beach is wonderful if you like solitude and wind.Snorkling is allmost impossible when tide is out.Take water shoes for swimming in ocean ,lots of coral.The store was small and under supplied.My biggest beef was the water preasure in the rooms.i have long hair and takes awhile to rinse.

Date of stay: March 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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3  Thank cubabound1962
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 16 March 2008

We went to the Don Lino as a group of 12 people, ages 19-24 from Feb 24-Mar 2. We were a bit worried before we went as to what it would or wouldn't be like at a 2 star hotel, but I have never been so pleasantly surprised!! We arrive in the middle of the night, and woke up in the morning to the glorious sound of waves on the white sandy beach right outside our window!

We were warned about the food from other reviews, but again, were pleasantly surprised. The food is actually quite tasty for the most part (the garlic fish is delicious), but is the same every day.

We liked the beer which was limitless, and any mixed drinks with rum were good too, though other cocktails were lacking. But what do you expect? Cuban rum for a week is quite nice.

Everything about the staff is so true, they were incredible. Extremely attentive, eager to help out with anything, and respectful. Yurel is a true gentleman, and took us to Holguin on our last day, let us leave our luggage in his apartment during the day, and shower us around the city. Carlos and Adolfo were also a lot of fun, playing beach volleyball and chilling with us at night. Bring thermoses/nalgenes to put water in for after 10pm, and get the bar to fill up your room thermos with beer or rum and coke so you can keep on going after 10!

There definitely isn't a lot going on in the place at night, but it would be perfect for a week of rest or a romantic getaway in a quiet, peaceful area. That said, we had a fantastic time of dancing, drinking, singing, playing games, swimming, horsebackriding, etc., and didn't miss the lack of nightlife since we were a big group and pretty much provided our own fun.

The beach is very pretty and great to lie on the chairs and read, the stars at night are indescribable. The water is rocky though, so bring water shoes. It's easy to borrow one of the resort's 10 bikes though and make the 5-10 minute ride to Playa Blanca, which is a great beach with no rocks, and all the locals hang out there which is nice to be in a lively area.

Make sure to bring lots of little things to give to the housekeeping, wait staff, and townspeople. Kids love candy and gum, women really want clothes, and small toiletry items are good as well.

We LOVED the Don Lino, and can't recommend it enough!

Date of stay: February 2008
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
    • Value
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5  Thank DonLinoLover
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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