Hotel Profile: Macdonald Dona Lola Resort, near Malaga

Travel can be about widening your horizens and pushing yourself, alternatively it can be about taking things easy and chilling out. If you're seeking the latter, then the Macdonald Dona Lola resort in southern Spain should definitely tempt you.

If the name Macdonald sounds familiar then that’s hardly surprising. The Macdonald brand, with Scottish origins, has hotels across Scotland and the UK. Its Aviemore resort is hugely popular with families, and its Spanish and Portuguese properties are making waves too.

The Dona Lola resort is one of four Spanish properties, and the only overseas Macdonald resort we’ve personally experienced. I totally rate it, and this is why.

Check-In

The process was swift and friendly. We received a map of the resort, as it’s vast, and a quick explanation regarding facilities, parking and directions to our apartment. Check-in starts from 5pm, and check out is 10am, which I did consider pretty late/early in the day, but it coincidentally worked with the timing of our flight and activities.

The Apartment

The master bedroom at Dona Lola

We were located in Martha 142, and it was fantastic. Stupendously spacious with room for a family to actually live. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen leading open plan onto a dining area and lounge, flowing through to a balcony with outdoor seating. The size of the apartment and the quality of the furnishings and furniture made it feel like a family home, rather than a holiday apartment. The decor was traditional and comfortable, rather than trendy or modern. The furnished kitchen was well equipped with quality implements with which to create family meals. In terms of technology, the large TV screened a range of UK channels, but there was no free wifi in the apartment so I had to actually talk to my family…

The Pools

Going deep in the baby pool. And getting it all to himself – in July!

The pools were wonderful, and I don’t believe the photographs on the website do them justice. The baby pool gradually slopes away, allowing wee ones to paddle and puddle about. The lifeguard on duty was notably attentive, and although we travelled in July we always secured sun loungers right next to the baby pool. We met some lovely people; maybe we were lucky but it was the kind of place where you naturally got chatting to folk. Free wifi was available poolside if you’re feeling anti-social.

A section of the pool ‘river’.

The main pools swept under a series of bridges, so we swam laps of the place if the tots fancied a promotion to the ‘big boy pool’. There’s also an indoor pool, although in Spain swimmers are meant to wear bathing caps to use indoor facilities – how attractive. Caps are on sale at the hotel if required, but we stayed outdoors to make the most of the fine weather, and to avoid the headgear. Finally, there’s an adult pool – this made me feel so relaxed as anyone hanging out at the main pool was cool with kids, otherwise they had the option to disappear to an adult-only zone. We loved the pools at Dona Lola and spent hours in them till we were puckered and exhausted.

Dona Lola resort, near Malaga.

The Gardens

Dona Lola was surprisingly green. As we walked from our apartment to the swimming pool we passed through lush gardens, marched over cute bridges taking in decorative ponds, spotting fish and squealing at a fake hippo basking in the water. My kids were delighted by the ponds, and the greenery brought an air of tranquillity to the hot Spanish setting.

Green Dona Lola

The Facilities

Facilites include a kids’ club. It’s not a nursery where you can drop off your children for hours on end, more like a quality entertainment station for kids aged five and over. For example, one day the kids made masks that they moulded to their faces and then decorated – they were pretty impressive creations, and fit them perfectly. Meanwhile the parents secured a few hours to themselves.

Dona Lola also offers aย gym, sauna, Turkish bath, tennis courts and free parking on site. There’s a lot of golf (and golf breaks) available in the area so a potentially chilled place to tee off as well.

Food & Drink

Whilst Dona Lola is predominantly self-catering there are some solid dining options for all ages. Literally backing onto the hotel are informal, relaxed, family friendly restaurants. We tried La Estancia, an Argentinian steak house that (completely predictably) caught my husband’s eye. Service was slightly languorous but the food was good. Next door is a fantastic Italian, with a great menu, oven cooked pizzas made before your eyes, and swift, exceptionally friendly service. These two restaurants are so close to our apartment that it was fantastically easy to dine out.

On site at Dona Lola is Plaza Beach restaurant, which is run independently. During the day it’s great for ice creams, and its happy hour (offering 2 for 1 on several drinks from 5pm) was a daily highlight. Only niggle was the coffee, which was burnt and served with scalded milk so I’d avoid that, but overall it was great to have a casual spot, metres from the pool, and we dipped into it on a regular basis.

One evening we dined there. The kids’ menu was simple and full of predictable favourites, with our tots opting for pizza, and chicken and chips that they devoured. My husband opted for calzone, and my mushroom pasta with truffle oil was spot on.

Location

Exploring the boardwalk, wearing just trunks, crocs and armbands, and why not…

Situated only 40 minutes from Malaga airport Dona Lolaย is very easy to reach. Who doesn’t love a short transfer? As mentioned, the hotel backs onto several restaurants as well as shops so it’s really handy.

Dona Lola is metres from the beach, which is quite small and sandy (rather than pebbly), but a bonus is the boardwalk that allows you to promenade along the seaside, stopping at bars and cafรฉs as you wish, and strolling in the sunshine. A chilled out late afternoon walk ย was a free and easy pursuit.

Overall, I loved Dona Lola resort as I felt so comfortable and rested there. Everything I needed was within reach, and all I had to do was concentrate on covering the kids in suncream. Macdonald hotels are rarely the new trendy kid on the block, they’re established hotels, they know what holidaymakers want, and they deliver. For me, this resort was about spending quality time with the people I love. There may be more attractions in the vicinity but I don’t know what they are, as I didn’t want to leave.

Highlights and Lowlights

Highs – The wonderful pools, the vibe, the quality of our apartment, restaurants on our doorstep, and the ease of life there.

Lows – Not much really, free wifi would have helped, and more generous check in and out times.

Our Story

There are regular flights to Malaga from Scotland but, in order to attend a family event in the area, we chose to fly from Newcastle with Ryanair. [On a side note: The flights were a bargain, but when our return journey was cancelled, once we were already out in Spain, the bargains disappeared and it was nothing but hassle as we couldn’t get hold of anyone at Ryanair. Stranded!] From Malaga it was a 40 minute transfer with a hire car. We spent several days in Dona Lola, before exploring Granada and Seville – more info to come shortly.

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16 Comments

  1. Reply

    Laura (@dearbearandbean)

    August 7, 2018

    What a beautiful hotel! Iโ€™ve stayed in a MacDonald hotel in the UK, they are lovely hotels

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      I’ve visited Aviemore a few times, and will return in the autumn, and I had a girls weekend (including spa treatments) at the Edinburgh Holyrood property. Would be curious to know which one you stayed in?

  2. Reply

    Helen

    August 8, 2018

    Oh wow it looks absolutely stunning there! We are currently looking at possible holiday destinations for next year and this is a real contender now ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      They have 4 Spanish resorts and Portuguese ones too, but this is the first one I’ve experienced.

  3. Reply

    ChelseaMamma

    August 8, 2018

    Ryan Air sounds like a nightmare, I would be very wary of booking with them now. However your stay looks amazing – what a stunning place to visit

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      This hotel was blissful, would recommend it in a heartbeat. Ryanair, not quite so much!!! Check out the comments on the Ryanair Facebook page – it’s unbelievable.

  4. Reply

    Sara-jayne Jones

    August 8, 2018

    It looks so beautiful and relaxing there. I’ve never stayed in a MacDonald hotel! I can’t remember a time I’ve flown with Ryan Air that they haven’t been a nightmare at some point ๐Ÿ™

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      I feel dumb for even attempting to fly with them.

  5. Reply

    BattleMum

    August 8, 2018

    Wow what an amazing resort. I love the sound of the 2 bedrooms and the pools sound heavenly. Sounds like a perfect place for a family getaway. And I probably wouldn’t mind not having WiFi to switch off.

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      I could have done with the Wifi (though it did force me to abandon my phone), but the pools and accommodation were spot on.

  6. Reply

    fashionandstylepolice

    August 8, 2018

    The hotel looks great. Love the pool. Good to know the check in was quick. Hate when that takes forever.

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      You want your holiday to start NOW, not after a lengthy check in. The pool is beckoning!!!

  7. Reply

    Lauretta At Home and Horizon

    August 9, 2018

    The pool is just wow! Especially the section of the ‘pool river’. I bet you guys had an awesome time!

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 9, 2018

      We just found it so relaxing!!!

  8. Reply

    Steph

    August 11, 2018

    I love the look of the pools and gardens. It looks so relaxing

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      August 12, 2018

      The greenery was an unexpected treat. The kids went mad for the fake hippo every day!

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