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Reviewed 4 April 2018

Well managed resort in Cuba! Stayed there one week with my girlfriend on the last week of March and were surprisingly impressed!

The Ups:
-Didn't get sick in Cuba!!!!
-Best food I've had in Cuba, still cuban resort food thought...
-Amazing beach
-Newer infrastructures
-Friendly staff
-Well managed property

The downs
-Slow and inconsistent service at the lounge. Barmans takes time to feed the waiters/waitress with orders.
-Inconsistent cocktails.

Payed 1100$ per person for one week. Value for money is very good. Should I go back to Santa-Maria, Dhawa would be on my radar!

Stayed: March 2018
3  Thank Jean-Sébastien F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jose Luis B, Director General at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 7 April 2018

Dear Jean-Sébastien F,

A sincere and big thanks for your kind review on TripAdvisor regarding your recent stay with us at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. We take great pride in creating exceptional experiences, and it sounds like we achieved our goal.

We appreciate you bringing to our attention the inconsistency of service excellence at the Lobby Bar area, allowing us to the opportunity to set things better. I apologize for the less than perfect impression, our managers who supervise the area have discussed the topic with the associates to avoid any inconvenience in the future.

Dear Jean-Sébastien F, we do look forward to welcoming you back to Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria very soon and thank you again for choosing to stay with us and having us in your radar for the next time. Please do let us know if we can be of assistance in the future.

Warm regards,

Jose Luis Barrera Orbe
General Manager

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Reviewed 4 April 2018 via mobile

Dhawa is a newer hotel in Cayo Santa Maria and is a great choice for a family vacation. Kids club was excellent, food was good for Cuban standards. Beach and resort is small, but rooms are nice and the ambiance is perfect for families. Down side is definitely the swamp beside the beach that reeks of raw sewage...it’s truly nauseating, but passes once you’re on the beach. We saw 1 jellyfish on the beach. Water was not the typical “Cuban turquoise” that you get in Cayo Santa Maria. Overall a solid 3.8. Would return for a family vacation.

Stayed: December 2017, travelled with family
3  Thank SweetChickNamedDesir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jose Luis B, Director General at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 7 April 2018

Dear SweetChickNamedDesir,

Thank you so much for your valuable time in writing a review on our Tripadvisor forum, to share with the readers your family experiences at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria. It is a delight to read how much you have enjoyed the Kids Club, our culinary offers, your accommodation and ambiance for families.

On a minor note, dealing with mother nature is sometimes of a challenge. As the ambient temperature increases so do the lagoon water temperature. As a result, some water components and nutrients become more active at a faster rate. The warmer the water becomes, the more active they are and the more oxygen they consume, thereby resulting in low lagoon dissolved oxygen. We are looking at the permanent solutions alongside local authorities.

Dear SweetChickNamedDesir, thank you very much once again for your valuable review and contribution. We wish to have the opportunity to welcome you once more in a near future to make your next family holiday an unforgettable one.

Best regards,

Jose Luis Barrera Orbe
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2018 via mobile

Me and my friends booked this resort due to the high reviews it had.
The resort was nice but has alot of potential and improvements needed.
We got there and already the customer service was not there. The staff looked like they did not want to be there. No smiles in the lobby. The person who was booking the restaurant reservations did not have any costumer service skills.

The beach at this resort was beautiful but always packed. People would wake up at 500am in the morning to set their towels on the chairs and leave and management allowed this to happend. We would arrive at the beach at noon and always had no place to sit. Only at the very very end.
There was some great snorkeling spots and the catamaran guy Omar did do an amazing job taking us out. He was friendly and greeted us every day.

Bottles of Water was really hard to get at the resort. We asked for bottles and nobody would give us any. Some days we did not get our fridged filled up with any.
We had to use our water wisely and put our half used bottle of water in our luggage to get a new one from the maids. it actually came to that point where we had to do that lol..

The pool felt like it was the same thing everyday. They played the same 7 songs on repeat. There can be more events made up for the resort like Beach soccer, beach volleyball ball at certain times.

The bad: costumer service, atmosphere, excursions too far , management ( towels left on chairs) very little activities,

The good: food, drinks, beach and only three employees that took care of us exceptionally well with great consumer service (Omar, amaury, head chef (big guy who is always smiling :))

The airport was the killer. It was the icing on the cake. I would never come back to the resort.

Stayed: March 2018, travelled with friends
8  Thank S C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jose Luis B, Director General at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 7 April 2018

Dear S C,

We are genuinely disappointed that we fell well below our usual high standards when we hosted you during your break in March.

Thank you very much for sharing your experience; apart from this review, we are grateful for additional details you have kindly shared with us directly which helped us understand the challenges. May I assure you that each team leader has been made aware of your feedback to act on and rectify the issues to maintain our high quality and for continuous improvement.

All of us at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria feel sorry that we missed the opportunity to wow you and to deliver an experience similar to the once you read and inspired you to book with us. I do hope that this single stay did not permanently tarnish your perception of our resort and that you might reconsider a return visit and allow us to show the progress we have made in the areas you have kindly highlighted to our attention.

Sincerely,

Jose Luis Barrera
General Manager

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Reviewed 2 April 2018

We had a lovely time at Dhawa and hope our comments and feedback help Management at Dhawa and people planning to take a trip. Here goes our review in detail:

Package:
We booked the package via Air Canada and because of it received certain additional perks – A free bottle of rum as we checked in, check in was under 5 minutes, beach towels already placed in our room, and 4 reservations at the restaurants versus 3. It would have been nice to get a better orientation to the resort as a lot of things we figured out ourselves or via hearing other guests talk about it. The bus ride was 1.5 hours long but a pleasant ride where you could buy pop or beer onboard. 2 drinks for $5 (Canadian or pesos). Dhawa is owned by a Thai company and means “little Island” as per our tour guide. We were a family of 3 (with a 4 year old) and had a partial ocean view room, which had a beautiful view in the 400 block on the top floor. There are no elevators in the building but we managed just fine.

Currency & Tips:
You can exchange currency at the airport or in the resort. You need your passport with you when converting money. 1CUC = 1.35 CAD the week we visited. Staff accept tips in Canadian currency – paper notes (however they are unable to accept Canadian coins). We saw people tip in US dollars as well. We had been told to take gifts and tip in gifts if possible. We took the following for staff – make up, tooth paste, tooth brushes, hair accessories, soaps, shampoos, lotions, razors, pencils, children’s colouring books, balls, crayons etc. They were sooo appreciated by staff. At first I was uncertain and hence tipped the ladies with gifts and the men with pesos, but gifts were greatly appreciated by the male staff as well. I was very touched with their reactions. When we asked staff what they preferred they would reiterate that tipping was not mandatory and only if we wanted too. They stated that they don’t get a lots of things there and especially gifts for their kids and clothes are greatly appreciated. We had taken a bag of kids clothing and our Air Canada rep said that he would help distribute them to mums in the villages. The gardeners also work hard and don’t get tipped, so daily when our mini bars were restocked, we would take the drinks and give them to the gardening staff who would be so happy. The general rule was that tips in money were split between staff that worked in that bar/restaurant etc, while tips in kind were for that one staff member you gave it to.

Staff:
Most staff were so pleasant and lovely. They would help out whenever possible and were so good to our 4 year old. Whenever I needed milk or a special dinner order for him, they were very obliging. My little one loved the golf carts and wanted a ride in them and 2 of the staff members took him for a VIP ride around the resort. Staff were just fantastic with kids overall.

Rooms & Resort:
We found our room very comfortable and the view was beautiful. The AC worked fine. Some of the sheets/towels had stains on them but they were changes out when we asked. A few things like cleaning some of the sand stains our of the doors would also help. I cleaned them up quickly after we arrived. They have a mini bar that is stocked with water, beer and pop daily. A Safe is also included at no extra charge. We liked the modern layout and structure of the hotel and plants. You can ask for an additional key card upon request at no extra charge.

Food:
People stated that food prepared in Cuba was bland and to take our own hot sauces. We found the food to be very tasty and filled with delicious flavours. They have hot sauce, ketch up and many other spices – so don’t worry. The food in the A la carte restaurants(French, Italian and Seafood) were great as long as you ordered the right things. There was lots of variety at the buffets and at lunch and dinner they would grill lobster/shrimp/fish/calamari which was delicious. We encountered great staff at the buffet like Leo, Carlos and so many more, who provided excellent customer service. They have a snack bar across the pool – service was very slow there usually, but they made great pizzas. They also had a snack bar on the beach which made chicken wraps and burgers daily. One thing they don’t make is proper French fries, which would be a nice addition to the menu (just a suggestion). They make great speciality coffees and drinks. Get a menu from the lobby bar and try as many as you can! It would be nice if they had 2 omelette/2 pizza/2 pasta stations as the lines get very long and hence we would shy away from them.

Something I ate at the seafood bar didn’t agree with me and that was the only downside of our trip as I was sick for a few days.

Entertainment:
The entertainment was great and changed daily. They have a beach party on Sundays which starts at 9.30pm (which we heard from other guests). If it gets to windy, they move the party to the theatre, which they did for us. They have a live band at the dinner buffet most nights, and a couple that sings and plays the cello/guitar every evening near the lobby bar. They are FANTASTIC and always packed!!! In terms of children’s entertainment, my son loved the clown that entertained daily with appearances from Micky, Minnie, Woody Wood Pecker. She was soooo great with kids that he overcame his stage fright and the next night went on stage and danced. They also do face painting and tattoos for kids. He had a blast. They also had dance and aerobic classes on the beach and at the pool. They have free pedal boat you can take out each day(weather permitting) and free catamarans rides (all included as part of the resort).

Tours:
We did the Catamaran tour via Air Canada - $99 Peso/adult tour. It was okay and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it. The tour involved a catamaran ride to an area where you could snorkel for an hour or so and then they take you to the Dolphinarium. It was too windy/cold to snorkel but the Dolphinarium was great! In hindsight, take the Hop on – Hop off bus (open air double decker bus) for 2 Pesos and get down at the Dolphinarium (10 minute ride from the resort). We found out from other guests that that you went before 9am – you buy one adult ticket, and get one free and kids were free too. We used the double decker bus to go to a market close by 25 minute ride and did some souvenir shopping (good variety of things and reasonably priced too).

Kids:
Take your kids sand toys with you as there weren’t any at the pool area we could use (like at other resorts). Not a criticism at all, just an FYI for parents. They do have baby sitting services after 5pm and a kids club, but we didn’t use those services.

Beach:
The beach was beautiful and we loved it! Only one out of the 7 days seaweed washed ashore (but we weren’t bothered by it, at all). I wish tourists would pick up after themselves as we saw lots of plastic cups and cigarette butts thrown in the sand, which was sad. My recommendation is for guests to bring their own tumblers/travel mugs (like we saw many had to avoid the plastic cups) and ashtrays for those who smoke. It does get busy quickly but you can always find a chair if you walk further.

Overall I would rate this as a 4* hotel.

Room Tip: BLock 400 - 500 are great as you get an oceview room. Take a room on the top floor.
  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
5  Thank TravelBeginner777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jose Luis B, Director General at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 20 May 2018

Dear TravelBeginner777,

Thank you very much not only for your comprehensive review of Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, but also for having selected us in the first place. I am very pleased that you and your family ended your holidays satisfied, despite being sick for a few days, by the facilities, service, tours, that the Cuban hospitality overall has to offer. It always gives our staff a shot of pride every time we reach our goal of having our valued guests wonderfully satisfied, and your kind words are just the type of motivation that sends us forward to new heights. The entire team appreciates such a nice gesture.

Dear TravelBeginner777, thank you for sharing your comments with everybody on TripAdvisor, and I hope that this wonderful and detailed feedback sways many others to consider the incredible possibilities that await them at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria. Until then, we all wish you safe travels

Always with my best regards,

Jose Luis Barrera
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2018

We travelled with a group of 6 people to this resort March 15-22nd. It was our first time to Cayo Santa Clara, and we were a bit concerned about the 1 1/2 hour drive. The drive was very beautiful through some small towns and then across a 49 km causeway. I kind of thought it was like a free excursion as the Sunwing Rep did an excellent job of explaining everything along the way. Check in was very fast and efficient and we did not have to wait for our rooms. We were in Room 643 with an oceanfront room and it was very nice and cleaned to perfection every day. Our maid's name was Baby.

Food - The food in the buffet was very repetitious every evening they needed to have different theme nights to change it up. Breakfast was fine and we mostly ate our lunches at pool area which had awesome chicken nuggets. The a-la carte restaurants were good, thankfully we were able to go there for three nights.

Employees - were all so helpful land would go out of their way to help you. Very special mentions to Angelo (Angel) and Jo Jo. who were awesome entertainers and would always stop for a chat to see how we were doing and to thank us for choosing Dhawa. Also Yordan, Randy and Lazzarro were such great bartenders and tended to our every need.

Pool - The pool area was awesome and was where we spent most of our time. It was so close to our room, the restaurants, and a very short walk to the beach.

Beach - was nice but for someone who likes walking distances it was a little small, as it was in a cove.

Piano bar, lobby entertainment - Very good but after a coupe days we found repetitive they needed to change up the songs.

One thing that did bother me was the insect repellent that they would spray in the evenings and early morning. They would go around the resort with a truck and spray and you could see big black clouds coming from it and the smell was terrible. I am sure they need to do something but I am a cancer survivor and really worrying about what I was breathing.

  • Stayed: March 2018, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank Valerie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jose Luis B, Director General at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, responded to this reviewResponded 3 April 2018

Dear Valerie P,

Thank you very much for choosing Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria alongside the group of friends. It was very special not only for Angelo, Jo Jo, Yordan, Randy and Lazaro but for all of us, to have the opportunity to create memorable moments that hopefully will remain for many years. Thank you for having shared with our TripAdvisor readers,

We are very sorry to read about the disappointment you had with regards to the fogging against mosquitoes. It is the spray system utilized in all hotels by the same company approved by the authorities. Therefore, should not be any problem againts health. Thank you for bringing your concern up to our attention.

Dear Valerie P, we hope that we can have you all with us at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria sometime in the near future. Until then, we all wish you the very best.

Cordially,

Jose Luis Barrera
General Manager

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