The Dunas de Donana tries hard and offers a pleasant, relaxing location for a family holiday. We travelled in July 2013 for a week with two small children.
Before covering the hotel, a word on Matalascanas. The resort is a strip of development along the coast adjoining the Donana national park. Before you imagine long, lazy walks in the peaceful park you should be aware that you are not allowed in except on heavily organised guided tours. The Spanish take this very seriously and the park is sealed off by wire fences, patrolled by large men in 4x4 vans and watched over by observation towers. It seems very pleasant, and oddly smells very nice due to the large expanse of natural herbs quietly growing, but you aren't getting in.
What the park has done is to create a buffer zone for Matalascanas which means you have to really want to go there to go there. The 1h30 drive from Seville limits the numbers on the beach and makes what could be a crowded resort actually pretty bearable in July. The place seems heavily local - we were the only non Spanish in the hotel - and very family oriented with a typical setup being a complete family group from grandma to newborn. The only hip in Matalascanas these days appears to be artificial and creaking.
The best thing about the Dunas de Donana golf resort was the Master Suite accomodation which was not much more expensive than a standard apartment. There are only 8 of these room types in the hotel and they command the 4th floor of each of 8 staircases entirely to themselves. This gives you essentially a penthouse with fine views over the golf course and a pleasant view of the sea. The Master Suites feature one en suite twin, one twin bedroom and two sofa beds in the living area. There is a small kitchen and small second bathroom. The en suite features a bath while the second bathroom has a large, pleasant shower. The apartment is equipped with a washing machine, fridge with freezer compartment, microwave and hob. There is a basic selection of glasses, cutlery, dishes and plates. However, the supply of all other kitchen items is not guaranteed - we had knives but lacked a kettle, coffee and tea equipment, no bottle opener, no corkscrew. It would not have been possible to do self catering without buying some of these in the town. The decor is a pleasant, colourful mediterranean style slightly tired but still acceptable. Cleanliness is very good and cheerful cleaners turn up daily to sort things out. The outside space in the Master Suite is outstanding with two separate lounging areas and a covered roof top space as well. We had three loungers and plastic outdoors table and chair sets. No stale smells, no ants...just a brilliant holiday base with great views and generous outdoor space. The air conditioning is efficient and welcome ! There is no mini bar. There is no WiFi coverage in the rooms, there is WiFi in reception which we did not test. Rooms are equipped with a telephone.
Service at the apartments is very good. Staff are friendly and generally very efficient in both restaurant and front desk. We were arriving late with young children and they happily kept some dinner ready for us on arrival. Very little English is spoken as there don't seem to be any foreign guests...
Food and drink may be included with your package - be aware that at the time of writing there are several options with different supplements per day per person according to season:
Breakfast (+ 6 to 7 euros per day)
Half board (+ 18 to 23.5 euros per day)
Full board (+ 29 to 32.5 euros per day )
Full board plus (+34 euros to 37,50 euros per day)
The difference with Full board plus is that you get free drinks including local alcohol at lunch and dinner. Typical prices for drinks on the other packages are 1,50 for water (no tap water...), 3 euros for a half bottle of wine, 1,50 for a bottle of juice. We ended up spending around 35 euros over the course of a week for the family, given that none of us were drinking with meals so the upgrade from Full board to Full board plus may be worth it for you.
Food will certainly keep younger family members happy with a regular supply of chicken nuggets and chips alongside local favourites. The fish choices were often good, otherwise the food is more acceptable holiday fare than a draw to the hotel. Vegetarians are catered for well. The buffet is geared to Spanish tastes and little English is spoken in the restaurant - we enjoyed this !
The hotel offers some kind of mini club Kids programme as well as singing and other entertainments in the evening. We didn't participate but could hear some of the action in the evenings. The hotel has a baby pool which is very shallow and warm and a decent sized adult swimming pool. Both were clean and enjoyable. The pool is not open all day, enquire at reception for opening.
Parking is free outside the hotel on the street round the back between the hotel and the golf course - display the green A4 paper handed to you on arrival. However, if you lose your space you miss out and parking within the hotel costs 5 euros per day.
Your room is equipped with a basic lock and key safe and key rental is 2 euros per day from reception, ask at check in.
Local activities range from hiring a bike to taking tours in the Dunas park as well as the beautiful 15km long dead straight beach. The beach does get busy but there is plenty of room to spread out.
Bike hire is from Felipe at La Tienda de la Bicicleta who is based opposite the Hotel de Corto at the other end of town at 66, Casarena. You can call him on 0034636149772. Hire is around 14 euros a day but weekly deals can be had - bikes are available for all the family.
Car hire is available from Rentinocar - you can call on 0034959536385 or 0034605435111. Did not use the service.
Taxi available from Manuel on 0034647519151. Again, didn't use the service.
Other activities include a tourist train around Matalascanas, horse riding, camel riding in the park and boat/pedalo rental from the beach. All good fun !
Overall, the Dunas de Donanas offers a good quality base to have a family, beach based holiday in Matalascanas. It is not a good base for regional exploration due to the isolated location and long drive to other towns. Best for a family with kids that love the beach & the pool for a sunny, happy week or two.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to a holiday paradise, a haven of relaxation and tranquility created for families and groups of friends looking to live their days surrounded by sun, beach and nature. From the apartments Dunas de Donana Golf & Resort we offer you all the services and attentions you need to squeeze your next getaway to the maximum. Pools, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, private parking, cafe bar, gardens, Internet connection via wifi and the most complete program of activities you can imagine. So that all, great and small, enjoy as children. Book your studio or apartment in Matalascanas 5 km from the Donana National Park. The accommodation in Huelva with best value for money. Your vacation awaits you! ... more less
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