The best thing about Dhawa… – Review of Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas


I recently stayed at Dhawa for two weeks with my young daughter. This was not our first visit here, indeed it was our fourth visit to this hotel; how it was our first trip there since COVID.
IT SIMPLY IS NOT THE SAME.
If you have been to Dhawa before you will understand

Pros
1. The people
I can’t say enough about the majority of the staff at the hotel. The one and only reason that I would ever consider returning there is for them. I hope that management appreciates how hard they work with how little they have.
2. The beach
Not that it is unique to Cuba, but the beach is beautiful. The guys that help you get settled in the shade every morning, the bar staff that regularly walks the beach to see if you want drinks, and the staff of the aquatic centre are great.
Yes there is seaweed and sand flies that go along with seaweed. Could they get rid of it faster? Maybe. But if you look at the “rake” that the gardeners use to collect the seaweed…you may not complain.
3. The gardens. Beautiful. The most friendly and involved gardening staff I have ever met. They will make you a hat, or get you a fresh coconut any time.

Cons
1. Check in
We arrived Friday mid day
There were multiple large groups of Cuban nationals checking in at tue same time, and only two staff working. It took about two hours to get checked in. Standing around waiting. No welcome drink ( I did see one tray come out but not enough for everyone and never made it past the first group). No apologies or concern regarding the wait.
Management must know busy times. Get more organized, staff check in with more people during peak periods. I saw this scenario repeated several times during my stay.
Check in is a clients first impression of a hotel, and so important. I was left feeling like a second class citizen of no import. Not a great start Dhawa. I won’t even get into how our reservation was messed up and rooms incorrect etc.
2. Customer service
By this is don’t mean in general. I am speaking rather of the very rude gentleman who works at the customer service counter in the lobby. The young white gentleman.
He displayed the utmost arrogance and never was able to help. Several times I was pointed in his direction (toilet that kept breaking in our room, issues with our booking etc). Each time he looked like I was asking him for his first born, rolled his eyes, never made conservation, and never accomplished what I needed.
Again bad first impression. Why do you have such a person working in customer service?
3. Food
So this was a huge change from previous experiences at Dhawa.
I am going to give Dhawa the benefit of the doubt and assume that currently most hotels in Cuba are in the same situation. Food shortages there are a reality. Don’t go to Cuba if you are a foodie. Take snacks with you if you have picky kids. I lost 5 lbs over two weeks and am not a picky eater. It just really isn’t very appetizing food.
I can only imagine what locals go through if food access is so poor for tourists
4. The pool
Again this was new for Dhawa
The pool was unusable for days. We were told it was because it rained. However I have been to a lot of places where it rains, and the pool has never turned a murky green before. It took two to three days and copious amounts of chemicals being dumped into the water to clarify it. Management, maybe try cleaning the pool better. Even before the rain there was a green ring all around the pool tiles at the the water mark, filters at the edges of the pool had mold and were full of hair etc. There is man power down there, clean things better!
5. Toilets
Often there was a very strong smell of sewage coming from the public toilets
6. Rooms and general appearance of the hotel. I have to say that even though Dhawa only opened in 2017, it would appear to be 20 years old. Again I understand that chipped plates and glasses are likely very hard to replace in Cuba, as are many other things that are lacking at the hotel. But the general cleanliness could be better. Wash the stains off of walls, sheets and towels. Clean and repair chair cushions. Give floors in public areas a good wash. It doesn’t have to look as shabby as it does

All in all would I recommend Dhawa?
Keep in mind the price you are paying. It is very cheap. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
If you are going with small kids that you want entertained, this is not the hotel for you. There is a s a kids club, we went twice, never any kids there, never any signs of life, no mini shows prior to evening entertainment. No games that include kids from entertainment team. Only two average evening shows ever week. If you have a group of other kids it would be fine.
We both contracted COVID while there. I’m not saying this was directly the fault of the hotel, but there are A LOT of Cubans there who don’t need to show any proof of vaccination etc to be there.
If you just want a quiet time hanging out at the beach then sure book Dhawa, the staff are great.
Next time I book Cuba it will definitely be at a different resort. Cuban hospitality and beautiful beaches are generally well renowned and at the moment this is all Dhawa has to recommend itself. I will be trying somewhere else, no more repeat customer here.





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