We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Perfect for the price”

Best prices for -
Check In dd/mm/yyyy Check Out dd/mm/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 3 more sites!
Islazul Villa Don Lino
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Rafael Freyre
Reviewed 6 May 2014

What can I say that hasn't already been said. Yes Don Lino is a very small resort with limited food and beverage choices, but still, I loved it. I went there with my daughter (27) for a week April 16 to 23, 2014 - we missed the cheapest rate (don't you hate it when you wait hoping it will drop just a bit more and bam the price goes up by $40) But for $560 including taxes I could barely afford to go camping at this price... think about it, a full service site usually runs about $42 a night at a provincial park then there is the food the beer the gas I'm sure you get the picture.

Being at Don Lino was almost like camping, you rough it... you expect to rough it and you make the most of it and you'll have a good time. If roughing it is not your idea of a great time then spend the extra money and go to a larger newer place.

One thing I learned was if the Cuban tourists are smart enough to wait out the approaching storm in their rooms it would be wise to do the same. But being the crazy Canadians we went to the beach bar to watch the storm over the ocean. It was AMAZING... but thatched roofs similar to the one at the bar are NOT weather proof - and THINGS live in those thatches... things like frogs! And during heavy rainfalls... well they fall out of the roof, in fairly large quantities - and they may jump on you... and if you scream, well everyone will laugh at you :)

Take a horse and buggy or walk to Playa Blanco - it's beautiful and very safe
Go into Santa Lucia, it's an eye opener
Eat at El Tulipan - worth the money!

Things I loved about Don Lino:
1. The small intimate size - we were in room 6 and only 45 steps to the pool and 95 steps from our door to the beach.
2. Meeting new friends (Shout out to my new friends!)
3. Taco - the cutest resort dog EVER!
4. Beach combing for shells and sea glass
5. Very friendly staff
6. Never EVER having to line up for ANYTHING! Ok we lined up at check-in but that was only for 15 mins and we were the last of 10 people checking in.
7. Very quiet beach.

Things about Don Lino I would change:
1. The Pillows, I'm still not sure if there WAS anything in my pillow case - they were pretty flat!
2. I wish the beach had at least one nice sandy area but the snorkeling made up for that.
3. The food at the buffet could be a little more meal appropriate, but if you stuck to the grill area it was ok.
4. A better stocked store - it was our little joke when I went to get some cigarettes - I wanted Green Hollywood the storekeeper said "No green, No red - just Blue!" Ok I'll take the blue... do have matches? "No"... do you have a lighter? "No... just cuban lighter" and he hands me his glasses to use the sun's rays... Smarty pants! So if we wanted something that wasn't available... we would just laugh and say... no green no red... just blue.

Go with an open mind and bring a few essentials and you'll be fine

Things to bring
Butter
Peanut Butter
Jam
Hot Sauce
bug spray for the sand flies
Water shoes
Your sense of adventure

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
12  Thank Bea-Traveling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review
Reviews (578)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language

189 - 195 of 578 reviews

Reviewed 4 May 2014

I took a little while to write this review in the hopes of gaining a better perspective. Stayed in late March. Have been to Cuba before and would self identify as a low maintenance traveller. Badly in need if R&R the Don Lino offered a quiet vacation, with time to read a couple of novels, stroll on the beach and soak up the sun. If your looking to socialize - lots of friendly folks around.

The resort is built on swamp land which is a fabulous host for bugs and critters. Bring repellent. The ocean is beautiful, and has a coral shore - and undertows. We were always able to get a good spot on the beach.

The resort refers to bungalows as the two story wooden structures. The ocean front rooms are "rooms". The bungalows are well appointed, but a bit musty. We were moved once due to a room mix up and wasps - a nest by the balcony. The front desk staff seem more ornamental than functional.

The food at best was so-so, but that didn't seem like a big deal. Hygiene not great - lots of reheats and unclean plates. We found the wait staff excellent. The bar staff were friendly too and able to arrange tours. We found this handy as our Sunwing rep was MIA.

There's a 24 hour snack bar with fries, burgers and ham and cheese. Cappuccinos at the front lobby bar - start going by 7:30. If your an early riser take a nice stroll along the beach and head to the lobby....you can watch the classic car taxis, and horse and buggies assemble.

We went to Guardalavaca to hit the market: trinkets aplenty and a large beach - good spot to noodle around. Hired a taxi from the front - a nice 55 Bel Air - about a 30 minute drive. The scenery is lovely. We didn't haggle with the fare or prices at the market - trying to spread around the $ around as best we could.

Some other points:

Get your money at the airport.
Bring a flashlight to walk to your room at night.
There's a nurse on staff
The bands aren't connected to the hotel - so please tip
The dogs of the Don Lino are beautiful mooches!

Undecided if we'll return...may keep exploring Holguin....

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank Yoemmie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2014

We went in knowing what to expect thanks to the many reviews so for a “I’m sick of the snow, lets get the heck out of here” moment, it turned out good. We did have a few room issues that I will talk about later, but overall it was a good week. I traveled with my sister. We got a great deal. One week with no snow for $548 taxes included.
We flew Cubana Air for the first time, and it was ok. Our flight was on time going there and upon return we arrived ½ and hour early. The in-flight food was not very good so bring you own snacks.
At Don Lino there is no currency exchange so when you get to the airport go to the departure area to the bank. Here we lost 15cents on the dollar. Try and get small bills as they are not readily available at the resort. We boarded the bus and were introduced to some new friends, Coral Queen and her King and a lovely young man named Gin. By the time our hour drive was finished we were like old friends.
Check in was a breeze. We were given a room in the new two story bungalow section. The gentleman who took us to our room welcomed us to Don Lino, turned on our air and left. We settled in and went to explore the grounds and meet up with our new friends. We had diner then sat around the bar for a bit. When we returned to our room we noticed it wasn’t cooled down that much. It was late so we decided we would go to sleep and then let the front desk know in the morning. Come morning we informed the management about our air conditioner. They said no problem, they would send someone to look at it. After determining they couldn’t do a quick fix, they decided to move us. Moved to a new room and the first thing we checked was the air lol. A group of us decided to go the Playa Blanca to check it out. It cost us 6 pesos return in a horse and buggy. It is a beautiful beach, clear calm and very warm. You can buy a Cristal beer for one peso. Upon our return our new air worked so good that it flooded our room. On to our third room, second of the day. We unpacked again then noticed the bees living in the side of the building. As I am allergic to the little darlings, I was a little skeptical about staying there. Management came and sprayed them and stuffed T.P. in the cracks at the crown molding to prevent their entry. There should be no problem they said. After already moving twice that day I gave in and we stayed. Just meant I couldn’t sit on our balcony. We had no big problems with the bees for the next 4 days. The day before we were to leave, after an afternoon at the beach and pool, I returned to the room to change. The minute I opened the door I heard them. I looked and in the corner of the building that the lived, there were about 50 of them inside my room. Yes, I ran straight out of there and up to the lobby. They came again and sprayed. With only one night to go I really didn’t want to move again. We went away for an hour to see if what they did was any good. When we returned, another 10 were buzzing around so I said no way and we moved yet again for the sake of 12 hours but at least I could sleep lol. This all being said, we may have just had the crappiest luck in the room lotto. Many of our new friends never had to change rooms. Their rooms were good. As for the rooms themselves, there are very nice but somewhat inconsistent. All four of our rooms were the new 2 story bungalow. All had 2 double beds. Three had flat screen T.V.s. All had fridges (these are not stocked) and safety deposit boxes. Not all had both 220 and 110 power so bring your power converter. All sockets were clearly marked as to what wattage they were. Some had one bedside lamp some had two lamps. The beds were firm but not too hard. Water was never a problem in the bath\shower. No coffee makers in room so bring your own. ROOM TIP: 1057 air doesn’t work, 1086 infested with bees (there are several buildings with bees, do a walk around your building before you unpack) 1112 is a good room I think, only spent our last night here. Only the 2 story bungalows have fridges.
You can walk from one end of the grounds to the other in less than 5 min. but nothing is crowded. The open air lobby has a nice sitting area, a bar (which doesn’t serve beer?) and a pool table. The table has seen better days, with the felt lifting in several spots but we still played on it. It just made it more challenging. If you’re going and happen to have chalk they could use it. The store is here also. You can by Cristal for 1peso or Corona for 1.25 pesos but no limes. Store hours are different each day.
From the lobby you can see the ala carte restaurant. It is housed in a converted boat house with a sand floor so ladies don’t wear heels. You need to make reservations for here. The day we reserved, it was raining so we ate indoors in the attached room. Diner was excellent. You may have either beef or chicken. If it is available you can have lobster at an additional charge. Our party of five all had the chicken and enjoyed it.
There is one buffet restaurant and one snack bar. As far as the food goes, it’s adequate. There is always soup, fish, rice and pasta. A chef grilled a different meat each night. Salad was usually shredded cabbage with various toppings. Fruit selection was somewhat limited. I was very disappointed that you never saw a whole fresh banana offered. It’s Cuba. You go off the resort and there are banana trees everywhere! At breakfast there were great “made to order” omelets. Ketchup is rare so bring your own. I can’t eat my eggs without it. There is also a lack of butter. They would put out mayonnaise instead. The food wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either, just bland with some exceptions.
The beach spans the entire length of the property. There are lots of palapas, you will never go without shade. The water is very rocky so water shoes are a must. Swimming is better in the morning as the wind usually picks up in the afternoon. After lunch we would retreat to the pool. The pool maintenance crew always kept the pool area clean and safe for all. There are plenty of palapas and lounge chairs for all, until the weekend. This was when the locals came. Most of them were delightful people but like everywhere else (including Canada) there are exceptions to the rule. Some were eating drinking and smoking while in the pool. They ordered large amounts of food and just wasted it. Left their empty drink glasses and plated all over the place. Again these are not typical Cubans. After diner we would gather at the bar\snack bar area which is beside the pool and restaurant. Maybe once did we make it back to our room before midnight lol. The washrooms at the bar and the front lobby very rarely had toilet paper so have a stash on hand at all times.
The staff throughout Don Lino is very friendly. Overall it was a good vacation, even with our room issues. The management always dealt with our problems promptly. We met many new friends who made our trip enjoyable.This is a good resort if you want peace and quiet and sunshine. There is very little for children to do. As long as you know you are not going to a five star resort, you should have a good time.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
11  Thank Cookiemagil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2014

I have been back from Don Lino for a week and decided to take some time before writing my review. I did not want to write too quickly, but to mull over my experiences before typing. I'd like to frame my review by sharing a little about myself: I have travelled all over the world, this was my eighth visit to Cuba, I've stayed in a variety of places in Cuba and I've never had such a mix of good and bad as I've had here. I am not a "picky eater" or any such thing, I am easy going and love to relax and meet new friends. Unfortunately, I found my experiences at Don Lino an odd mix of the good and the very bad and would not return.

Staff: Most of the staff are very kind and friendly, beautiful people. We did have an experience with some staff that left a bit of a bad taste however. We were there from April 16th to 24th when we were told that the resort was slowly switching over from serving mostly Canadians and other nationalities to Cubans looking to vacation. My sister and I understood that the Don Lino staff were probably looking forward to seeing more of their fellow Cubans, but we found that we would be ignored at the 24 hour beach and snack bar in favour of serving other Cubans first. This would include waiting in line and being obviously there for a snack or drink and being ignored in favour of chatting with friends. We'd be waiting at the snack bar and the cook would make plates upon plates of food (fries, fritters, etc...), would pointedly ignore anyone else lined up and personally serve these platters to friends occupying other tables. Same would occur at the bar.

At one point, my sister was attempting to order two beers in Spanish from a female bartender. The other bartender - Junior started mocking my sister's attempt to speak Spanish in a mean tone, right in front of her. My sister understood what was happening and said, "I know that I am not Cuban and don't speak Spanish, but I know what you are doing. I don't appreciate being made fun of and you should be ashamed". Junior obviously knew he had been discovered, hung his head low and avoided eye contact, but did not apologize. So rude.

Food: It does not make me a "picky eater" that I do not enjoy eating the same reheated meatballs for breakfast, lunch and dinner - then served again, and again. I am not picky when I do not want mushy pasta that was made goodness knows when and served again and again. I am not being picky when I do not want to eat dried out mystery meat or dry rice and beans, the same dish over and over. I understand not wasting food, but having edible and tasty food is important. Having well cooked and thoughtful nourishment is important. Everything was overcooked, bland, and just awful. Paying extra at the a la carte restaurant in an attempt to have something to eat other than tasteless, recycled food and receiving a strange concoction of tiny canned shrimp and mushy, overcooked canned vegetables is not okay. The snack bar served disgusting frozen fries and fritters, cooked in a filthy deep fryer in oil that needed to be changed ages ago is not good. The resort would actually SAVE money by bringing in fresh foods and eschewing frozen and canned items.

My mom stayed the week before at Amigos resort in Guadalavaca and she raved about the fresh food, especially the fries, and she only spent $30 more dollars for her trip. It can be done.

The bars lack variety - no attempt to have interesting drinks, or any variety of drinks. It's pretty much beer or rum and coke. That's it. Bring a water bottle and have them refill it, you may only get eyes rolled at once in a while.

Room - my sister and I were given one of the older rooms, one of the bungalow type buildings. We called them the Stalin bunkers because they were built when the resort was geared toward Russian visitors. The room was kept clean, the beds and pillows are flat and uncomfortable. I would fold my pillow in half, place a towel in between to fatten it up. We did not sleep well, averaged about four hours a night, because the bed was so uncomfortable. Bring your own pillow if you can. We experienced a few crawly visitors - two fist sized spiders, a big cockroach, and a bat. Not the resort's fault, but still startling.

Pool, etc... - the staff works hard on the pool, it needs better filtration and you'll find it full of little bugs, but they try. There are little biting flies, we used bug spray but they still got us. We enjoyed hanging by the pool - reading and chatting. Probably the best part of our stay. The music would often play quite loudly, but we ignored it and just hung out.

Our best moment of the stay was actually walking OFF the resort and visiting the nearby El Marlin restaurant - a family run small restaurant about a ten to fifteen minute walk away. Leave the resort, walk up the road until you get to the first paved road, take a right and soon you'll see a white sign with the El Marlin on the left. Go there for a decent meal - we ate like queens and felt revitalised. The tienda/shop doesn't stock much, and if you are a smoker they will often run out of cigarettes. We went to El Marlin and they sold cigarettes along with AMAZING food.

Change your money at the airport, it's on the departure side of the building. If you are travelling with someone else, one should gather the luggage while the other runs over to change the money for both, as there was a long line up at the money exchange.

While I would not return to Don Lino, I did enjoy spending time with my sister and the beautiful Cuban sun. There are some wonderful resort/beach dogs on site, a little fox looking gent named Taco and a bulldog mix named Jocko. Please be kind to these lovely dogs. I am not a picky person, but reasonable food, drink and staff are important for a good trip. I am glad people enjoyed their time at Don Lino, but a week of mystery recycled food, bad drinks, dirty food preparation areas (the kitchen is adjacent to the worst smelling bathrooms you will ever smell, by the beach bar) and somewhat snarky staff is not okay.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
14  Thank Persephoneo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 April 2014

I loved Don Lino. I was there from April 15 - 22, 2014 and had the best vacation ever. It was exactly the right size and environment, just what I had hoped form and expected after reading all the reviews. Small, quaint, comfortable. If you're looking for luxury, pampering and all the comforts of home then skip Don Lino and head to a 5 star instead. If you're looking for lovely staff, clean rooms and a relaxing holiday then Don Lino will not disappoint.

There isn't a Bank to convert your money at Don Lino so be sure to go to Bank located in the Departures terminal of the airport before heading to the resort. Be sure to take enough money so that you can take a taxi (15 - 20 CUC) into Santa Lucia for a meal at El Tulipa one evening. The food is excellent. Entrees range from between 12 - 17 CUC. You need a reservation, which the front desk staff at Don Lino should be able to help with.

The property is well laid out and easy to get around. The pool is small and could be bigger and/or deeper but still very lovely and clean (except for on the very, very rare occasions...read further). I laid by the pool and read my book every day. Some days it was tough to get a lounger, because people would save them and then wander off but most of the time it wasn't a problem.

The first part of my week there I met a lot of lovely people and it was great to meet guests that were Cuban too. They were all so friendly and kind. The second part of the week was slightly different. A new group of Cuban guests arrived and they were very different from the first group. This second group took over and made quite a mess in and out of the pool. Food and drink everywhere, cigarette butts and garbage strewn about, even in the pool. It was a poor representation of Cubans because everyone else I ever met was not like these people. It was heartbreaking to the poor manners and destruction because the staff at Don Lino work so very hard to keep things nice. Omar, who takes care of the pool, takes great pride in caring for it, so seeing it disrespected in such a vulgar manner was upsetting. He worked very hard every day and always made sure people were comfortable and had what they needed. Be sure to say hi to him and help him practice his English, which is good but could be better. :)

I didn't go on any excursions or participate in any entertainment/activities, though the staff were wonderful. Dani and Manuel are wonderful. Manuel's English is perfect and he is always willing to help answer your questions. I did go into Santa Lucia on two occasions, having a beautiful meal at El Tulipa and enjoying a local "cantina" (patio bar). Those were definitely highlights of my holiday.

The food at Don Lino was ok, some days it was better than others. There was not a lot of variety, and often the food was "recycled", for example, if it was served at breakfast, you likely saw it incorporated into lunch, etc. So if this is your first time south, you will probably be disappointed. To be honest, for me, I eat less in warmer climates so it didn't make much difference to me. There was always a few things I could eat (and I have food allergies to worry about) but if I didn't fancy what was offered at the buffet, I would just get a grilled ham and cheese sandwich from the snack bar later. It was always delicious. Saying all of that breakfast was always delicious and the only thing I can really say is I missed butter! They only had a mayo available for your toast. If you are a snacker, take snacks or buy them at the shop in reception.

Things everyone should know:
- bring toilet paper, it is often not available in the public washrooms.
- If you lose your beach towel the cost is $20 to replace it.
- the new 2-story bungalows are lovely but if you have noisy neighbours it makes your stay a little less enjoyable. Not all people are considerate. Sad but true.
- there will not be any bottled water in your room - you can buy that from the little shop in reception. And there won't be a bottle of rum either, as advertised by some tour operators. That was fine by me but other guests commented they were disappointed by this.
- take a really good bug repellant if you plan to spend time on the beach in the morning or evening. Some people had terrible reactions that got infected. So be sure to also take some sort of allergy meds, Benadryl and definitely some Afterbite and calamine lotion. You won't regret it. Better safe than sorryl
- if the snack bar has hours posted and it should be open but there is no one behind the counter, nip into the kitchen to find a chef.
- if you're a fussy eater though, you will just have to suck it up or stay home.

All in the all, the Don Lino ticked all the boxes for me. It was the friendly, unassuming staff that really made my vacation. Everyone was friendly but no one was pushy. By the end of the week the Don Lino felt like home and it was so nice to be greeted with warm smiles and friendly "holas!" wherever I went. I'm planning on returning in October or November for two weeks and I can't wait.

Room Tip: The 2 story wooden bungalows have bathtubs, fridges and safes.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank Tamara Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2014

Our SunWing flight, was an hour plus, delayed in Halifax, and longer than expected due to headwinds so we arrived much later than the 10:30 PM we had planned for. (On our return, the flight out was delayed over 2 hours, though the airport ETA/ETD TV annoyingly said it was "on time".)
We knew what to expect in Cuba, but even by 2.5 star expectations, the food was a big disappointment. Never saw ketchup until the final day, and then only at the beach bar/snack bar. Butter was also absent, with a jar of unrefrigerated mayo left next to the bread table. At least two meals had nothing I would eat, and I was in the Marines so I can eat most things called food. You want to get to the buffet early, as buffet-table refills seem to be a maybe/maybe not proposition. Our one trip, to the one ala carte restaurant was very disappointing. The vegetables were one of the worst tasting things I ever put into my mouth. Zucchini and tomatoes with onion was the content. Not sure how they made it taste as bad as it did.
The lobby staff were useless even by Cuban standards, with some not able to understand ANY English. They invariably gave bad or wrong information if you could get any info at all. The bar and wait staff were excellent and friendly any time I dealt with them, and I did often.
We took a trip by cab into the local town just to get off the resort. Pedro, who spoke excellent English was our guide while his uncle drove the bright yellow Lada anywhere we wanted to go for 20 Pesos return fare. We planned to go to a restaurant with him the following day but my wife came down with a cold so we had to cancel. A week later, I still have the cold, and most people on the return flight seemed to have it as well with much coughing and hacking. Like flying in a Petri dish.
So, we liked our room, after having to change from the first room, as the shower/tub had a drop of 1-2 inches when you stepped into it. I fell the first night and broke a rib when I caught the tub edge under my arm as I went down. The sides of the tub were VERY high too so older folks should be aware of this. We were in the "bungalows" which are newer, so not sure if the cottages are similar. All in all, I could barely have stayed at home for the cost of this all-inclusive trip, and I would go back on the price alone. I would just take a carry-on of non-perishable food with me. We met wonderful people, as the 2.5 star resorts garner a different crew than the 5 star resorts. Very little pomposity I found. Never ate alone, though I did sit without much food on occasion.

Room Tip: No noise issues, as the resort is quite remote from any traffic. If you want and ocean view second s...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9  Thank James T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 April 2014

I did a lot of research on Don Lino and the surrounding area before I decided to book this resort. I perused about 100 of the latest reviews to get a general feel of what to expect and came to the consensus that it was a 2.5 star resort just as advertised. I had been to Blau Costa Verde which is only about 30 kms from Don Lino only 4 months prior so was acquainted with the general area of Playa Pesquero, Playa Esmeralda and Guardalavaca. I have been to Cuba well over a dozen times in the last 5 years and have been to resorts from Havana to Santiago so I have a general understanding of Cuban resorts and expectations. Don Lino had been on my radar as a possible resort destination for about two years now and quite frankly it was because of the awesome prices that were available from time to time. I paid $860 (all in) for two weeks, staying from April 8th through April 22nd. At this price I was not expecting to be pampered like I would have, had I been staying at PRDO (royal service) for 3-4 times the price. Flew out of Toronto via Sunwing on a packed plane that was over an hour late in departing and which also took a full four hours to arrive due to dodging some turbulence on the way. Airport security and luggage retrieval was quick. TIP --- I exited the arrivals terminal and entered the departure terminal so I could exchange Canadian currency for Cuban CUC. The exchange rate at the Cadeca was about 85 CUC for $100 Canadian. Don Lino does not have anywhere to exchange currency so doing this at the airport is a good idea. There are a few workers at the resort that may exchange money for you but you will pay a premium to do it if you can find them. TIP --- buying beer for your transfer to the resort is cheaper in the departures terminal than it is from the guy in the parking lot. Transfer from airport to resort was about 1 hour or ( 4 Cristal) and the time went quickly. Only 7 people were on the bus so check-in upon arrival at Don Lino only took minutes and a worker took luggage to room immediately. For the first two nights I stayed in room 11 which is part of the old section. The rooms are quaint but clean and acceptable. These older rooms do not have fridges and since I brought tons of food like kielbasa, cheese, chocolate bars and other food items that needed to be refrigerated a fridge was necessary. TIP --- Bring snacks. Inquired at the front desk if I could obtain a fridge, even if I had to pay, and was informed that only the new sections rooms had them. I next asked how much to upgrade to a new room and after crunching numbers on a calculator they came up with a price of $480 for the next two weeks. This was laughable as I could have upgraded when booking for about $60. Returned to the front desk the next day to discuss fridge dilemma again and new girl on desk upgraded me to new section for the rest of my stay at no extra charge. The old rooms are close to the pool/lobby/buffet/bar and the old rooms by the Sea have great views. The new rooms are nicer and have fridges, safes and a bathtub and nice balconies but as other have mentioned not very much sound-proofing. Fortunately I was not bothered by noisy neighbours probably because I was the noisiest and couldn’t hear them over my own music. The beach is fine and I did walk it barefoot several times but did have to watch my step. Do use footwear while swimming as there are rocks after entering the water. Several days the water did have waves but to me that made swimming all the more fun. The other days the water was calm and lots of families with kids were swimming. As others have already stated there is the option of going to Playa Blanca which is about 1 km away and can be accesses by walking either trails or on the road. There are also taxis and horse and carriages always right out front of the resort and the trip can be done for a few pesos. Playa Blanca beach is always calm and you can walk the beach or swim without water shoes. Pizza and beer can be purchased here but there are no chairs or palapas available. TIP --- bring your towel. A new restaurant (paladar) has opened on the road to Playa Blanca within the last two months. It is a safe 10 minute walk just down the road from Don Lino as soon as you turn right onto the road to Playa Blanca. The name of it is El Marlin Azul and I highly recommend it as the food and prices and ambience are great. Very close proximity to resort and a very nice change of pace for a good dinner, without paying for transportation. TIP --- bring a flashlight if returning after dark. This brings us to food at the resort. I will not go into great detail on this but will state some days/meals are better than others. You will not go hungry. I did not do the al a carte but this is booked through Adrian who is the food manager. I did talk with several guests who enjoyed it and apparently the lobster for an extra $10 pesos was delicious. Both bars did run out of ice on several occasions but this only latest an hour or two. The beach bar did run out of vodka once but restocked by the next day. TIP --- I bought vodka in Santa Lucia/Rafael Freyre (same town) that is 8km from Don Lino. Three pesos for a 26er!! I also bought cartons of real orange juice while there since the bars oj is more like Tang. You can get a taxi/horse & carriage into Rafael Freyre for $15 pesos return and they will wait for you while you shop/eat/drink. You can also rent nice new scooters to do this trip or others for $30 pesos for 24 hours. I took a scooter into a town called Fray Benito (about 20 kms) and had ice-cream (1 peso) from a vendor on the side of the road. Nice ride and scenery as well as a good dose of real Cuban life. Back to Rafael Freyre/Santa Lucia. Going to this town is a must for dinner. I went to El Tulipan twice for lunch/dinner and it was delicious. Had shrimp the first time (about 100 for 12 CUC) and had chicken cordon bleu the second time. The breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese was the best I have ever eaten in any country hands down. I also ate at EL Bambu which was also delicious and a must if you go into town several times. Drinking 1 peso Cristal and 1.25 peso Coronas with locals in one of the many outdoor bars was a pleasure and great experience. The city of Gibara is a one hour trip from Don Lino and is a fishing village on a bay. It is the second oldest city in all of Cuba and is a great place to visit and mingle. Fishermen were out in the bay catching shrimp and lobster floating on old inner-tubes from tires. There is a great lookout on top of the hill overlooking the city and bay with stairs (lots of them) leading all the way down to the water. I had lunch in Gibara at Las Terrazas. I ordered lobster (probably caught that morning) and it was very good and a very large portion that I could only eat half of. I gave the other half to my driver to take home. I also tried my drivers Marlin (something I have never tried) which was also excellent. The price of this excursion that took about 6 hours was 70 pesos. Manuel (part of the animation team) is the guy to see and he speaks perfect English and is knowledgeable about the areas around Holguin. Manuel also took me into Rafael Freyre for a new tattoo. I got a Cuban flag done (very nice) for 25 pesos. Being an “inked guy” already I can state the same tattoo in Canada would have cost $150-$200. Needles are brand new opened out of a package right in front of you so no need to worry. Even Manuel got a little ink added to his. The staff at Don Lino, are great, and all you need to do is ask if you need something. You do not have to tip to get good service. Nightly shows do not always happen at Don Lino but the show not to miss is the water-show on Friday nights. The first Friday they did the whole show to Queen Songs and I was in awe of it. The following Friday show was just as spectacular. A local band plays stage/beach bar/buffet some nights and are also very good. TIP --- tip them as they are not paid by the resort. Small pool and was very clean until local Cubans showed up with their families over Easter weekend and ate/smoked in the pool. They left food plates and plastic glasses and cigarette butts all around the pool area that eventually blew into the pool. I freaked out one day calling them all “pigs” and walked around picking up garbage yelling “this is where you put your garbage” as I threw it all in the garbage bins situated around the pool area. Even the Cuban staff was disgusted. Air-conditioning in room worked fine as did the flat screen TV. Always had hot water for a shower no matter the time of day. I never had to wait more than 2 minutes for a drink at the bar. As stated by previous reviewers it could be a problem for early risers to get a coffee sometimes. TIP --- go right to the kitchen and ask when lobby bar not open early. Espresso machine broke several times but always seemed to get fixed within an hour or two. This is a small resort and you will end up making good friends. You can walk from one end to the other in 5 minutes which is nice. TIP --- bring toilet paper whenever you leave resort or even when you want to use resort washrooms. Lobby washrooms are clean but beach bar washroom leaves a lot to be desired and has no running water in the sink to wash hands --- not good. A special shout out to Dani on the animation team and to my new friend Manuel also on the animation team. I met some very nice guests and we had many laughs. It was great finally meeting Coral Queen (Santiago Destination Expert) and her King. I met several other Trip Advisor peeps that made my vacation that much better. In summation (I know finally ---10,321 characters later) I had a great 2 weeks at Don Lino and will definitely return. I had more fun here than at any higher star rated resorts I have been to in Cuba. This is not the resort for Princes and Princesses; this is a resort for common folk that are usually more fun. Know what to expect and do your research --- as you should for any resort --- and you will not be disappointed. If anyone has any questions as I am sure I missed lots even though this review was long winded --- you can pm me and I will try to answer/help. If you found this review helpful please give me a helpful vote. Until next time --- Happy travels no matter when you go.
KELLY.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
73  Thank travelb4idieguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotels you might also like...
Also consider these accommodations in or near Rafael Freyre
10.6 mi away
Hotel Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca
21.1 mi away
Villa Cayo Saetia
Villa Cayo Saetia
#7 of 11 in Holguin
92 reviews
6.7 mi away
Memories Holguin Beach Resort
Memories Holguin Beach Resort
#3 of 4 in Rafael Freyre
1,731 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
4.4 mi away
Hotel Playa Costa Verde
Hotel Playa Costa Verde
#2 of 4 in Rafael Freyre
4,450 reviews
4.2 mi away
Hotel Playa Pesquero Resort, Suite & SPA
11.0 mi away
Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel
Brisas Guardalavaca Hotel
#2 of 3 in Guardalavaca
4,190 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Islazul Villa Don Lino? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Islazul Villa Don Lino

Address: Playa Blanca, Rafael Freyre, Rafael Freyre, Cuba
Region: Caribbean > Cuba > Holguin Province > Rafael Freyre
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 4 Hotels in Rafael Freyre
Price Range: £49 - £90 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Islazul Villa Don Lino 3*
Number of rooms: 36
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Hotels.com, TripOnline SA, Evoline ltd, Travel Republic (UK), HotelsClick, Cancelon and 5viajes2012 S.L. so you can book your Islazul Villa Don Lino reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Villa Islazul Don Lino Hotel Rafael Freyre
Hotel Islazul Don Lino
Islazul Don Lino Hotel
Islazul Villa Don Lino Cuba/Holguin Province

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing