Marie-Helene explored Tenerife in 2018 but it was my first time for seven years. As you can imagine, I noticed quite a few changes…
I was quite looking forward to revisiting the island. It continues to sell reasonably well and has a year-round spring reputation. So you do not get the climate extremes found in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tenerife is a four-hour flight from London.
We travelled on British Airways in their Club Europe cabin. It was OK. Almost on time. Seat configuration a bit cramped, but service was fine. I think BA have set their stall out to compete with the likes of EasyJet and Jet 2, and there is a comparison. Most clients who are travelling with BA for the first time find the experience acceptable. Maybe less so, if you are making comparisons with the BA of 3/4 years ago when they were proud of their full-service offering.
We arrived in a very overcast Tenerife. They had not had any serious rain for several months and the landscape reflected this. I can’t recall it being so brown. Picked up our hire car and drove to our host hotel, Royal Garden Villas. The airport in the south of the island is well located to reach most of the immediate resorts so within 25 minutes we had arrived, by which time it had started raining!
We had both seen Royal Gardens in the past but never stayed. It is totally chic and boutique. Very Balinese in style. Just loved it. Ticked all the right boxes for us.
It is small with just 28 highly individual villas. All have spacious in and out areas, including our own pool and kitchen. It’s a few minutes drive inland, overlooking a golf course. Part of the appeal to me is that for everyone I know who would really like it, I can think of just as many who would not get it at all. For the right client, this rather adds to the appeal.
Now it has numerous dining options, mostly fish, and so many urban dwellings with probably 50% of the population coming from Northern Europe and the UK. It still has a village charm to it, just rather larger. I chose the restaurant, based on fond memories. This was a bad idea. The setting was good, but food bland and, for what was on offer, rather expensive. Walking back to our car we found so many better options.
The following day the sun was out, the sky blue, the mountain range backdrop clearly visible. We just drove around the area taking in some villages set in the interior. We discovered a good supermarket where I was probably the only person who wasn’t using Spanish as my first language. Everything we wanted and at a fraction of the prices found in the more developed international areas.
Then it was a day of hotel visits. I don’t know how many hotels are in Tenerife but in several areas, its row after row. And most looked the same. TUI seem to the main player on the island. Numerous planes at the airports, coaches everywhere and many hotels which are exclusive to them. I am a bit too vintage (i.e old) to get the appeal of world domination, but I suppose there is power in controlling and owning everything you offer. For some hotels it was a quick polite “thanks, but not for us.“ and we were gone. If it had several coaches in the forecourt it was even quicker!
Two hotels that we particularly liked were Ritz-Carlton Abama and Bahia Del Duque, both of whom we have worked with for several years.
Sometimes you just accept you cannot improve on what you already have, and as we do not have any financial commitments on the island, we don’t have to lower our standards just to offer a lower price and fill rooms and seats.
I must say I was really impressed with Abama, pictured above. So many positive changes since I last saw it. The rooms had all been enhanced and looked larger (they were not) and brighter. Amazing what a different colour theme can do. Plus the restaurants looked more contemporary. Nice cove beach, with imported sand, reached by funicular lift. Plus little town of San Juan within a few minutes drive where you have dining options.
Then it was dinner at Bahia Del Duque. I think the charm of this hotel is the location and the service. To me, it’s the kind of place that starts off as OK but the smile gets bigger day by day. Saw the new rooms at the Casa Ducales which is the more traditional side of the property. Superb meal in their Basque-influenced restaurant and, of course, some equally impressive wine. Wonderful.
Next day it was some serious product inspection of the beach in front of Bahia. All the beaches in Spain are public so you just rent your chairs if required. The sun was out, the beach was busy, but not rammed. The sea was rather bracing upon entry. So good just to relax and chill. I even had a massage from a Chinese lady.
We then walked along the promenade. So many restaurants, small shops and a couple of brand name shopping malls. That is part of the appeal of Bahia Del Duque – so many options on your doorstep.
We really enjoyed our short break. Recharged the batteries nicely.
We travelled around a lot, visited Los Gigantes (mountains by the sea, pictured above) and so many little villages. The roads are so good and well signposted. Both of us had visited MT. Tiede Volcano in the past but suggest this for the first time.
You must also go up to the North of the island where it is green and lush. Much more traditional than the more arid and international south.
– Fun Fact –
A lot of people associate the Canary Islands with the small bird. In fact, the name came from the numerous large, wild and rather fierce dogs that used to roam the islands. It’s from the Latin word Canaria. Same meaning as canine. The main exports were fruits and vegetables, mainly tomatoes and banana, and many were shipped to London where they were offloaded at Canary Wharf!