Escape and regenerate your senses in Tenerife south. Yes, the south
You know how it is. There are times when you just want to escape from everyday life to regenerate your senses. You crave sun, but not a long-haul flight. Well, Tenerife ticks those boxes. And while most people advise going to the north of the island to avoid the razzmatazz, there is an oasis of true tranquillity in the south. Yes, the south.
With such a galaxy of five-star hotels the Adeje (pronounced a’deckie) area could be called The Milky Way. And Iberostar Grand Hotel El Mirador is the lodestar if you truly want peace. I first stayed here when it was linked to the famous Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque by a footbridge over a bougainvillea-clad ravine. In those days the facilities of both hotels were communal - no longer. El Mirador has joined the Iberostar constellation and the bridge is closed. It is now considered by those in the know as a destination in itself: a ‘child free’ zone, with three restaurants and a planned spa. Some people never leave the grounds for days.
Always a favourite with discerning Germans and Scandinavians, El Mirador has started to attract more Brits. Some I spoke to had comments such as “Well, what a surprise” and “We never thought Tenerife would be like this”. Others admitted, ruefully, that they had not mentioned the island's name, but instead vaguely told friends they were going to ‘The Canary Islands’ or even ‘an island off the west coast of Africa!’. A London pair laughingly called it ‘Very More-ish in both senses’ a nod to the exotic architecture and interior décor. All the accommodation is in sea-facing suites with balconies. Floaty curtains adorn canopied beds and the bathrooms are a sybaritic delight. Swimming in the free-form pool here, surrounded by fan palms and hibiscus hedges, you could imagine yourself in one of those fabulous Asian resort hotels. Prices vary according to season of course. As from lst May 2010 the cost is €91 per person, bed and breakfast, which includes a 10% on-line booking discount
Where to eat
Well, first try the hotel. El Mirador breakfasts must be among the best anywhere: sitting outside overlooking the sea, with an extensive buffet and brimming glasses of complimentary cava.
A stylish couple from Cheshire, there to celebrate his 40th birthday, said the food was so good that they had eaten in the hotel six nights in the week they were there. Evening buffets include an enticing range of salads and seafood appetizers followed by international fish and meat dishes, cooked to order, with plenty to please vegetarians. The lunch menu at La Pergola includes paella, prawns in garlic and club sandwiches. Dinner there features al fresco fondues. Restaurant El Cenador serves innovative dishes inspired by traditional Canarian cuisine. Three-course meals in each of the restaurants cost €30 per person, but there are good half-board deals. La Tosca, the circular bar overlooking the pool, is just the place for sunset viewing. How about a ‘goldfish bowl’ size glass of Carlos 3 Spanish brandy (€6.25).
Where to eat and shop outside the hotel
It is about 20 minutes' walk along the shore from El Mirador to this buzzy little fishing village where there are several attractive restaurants around the tiny harbour. We relished seabass marinara (€17.00) on a bed of a spicy sauce of tomato and peppers at Piscis Terraza (922 71 02 41; www.calamarin.com).
Playa de las Americas
Venturing into Playa de las Americas in the evening, I enjoyed sitting outside on the terrace of Trattoria Mamma Mia (922 797082) on the first floor of the piazza opposite Mare Nostrum resort. Italian specialties here include prawn risotto (€14), grilled sole (€13.50) and a superb house salad (€7.50). Locals often move along to nearby Monkeys Restaurant and Cocktail Bar (922 78 42 91) for desserts and coffee with liqueurs to watch the passing parade. Bianco Ristorante Italiano & Cocktail Bar (922 788 697) is another favourite. You can even fit in a little retail therapy before or after dinner as this area has a great range of boutiques selling brilliant handbags and shoes at bargain prices. The shops sell a good range of perfumes and cosmetics too, which are duty-free in Tenerife. Maybe leave your partner with a drink in a bar. Most shops stay open until about 10 pm.
Look out for excellent Tenerife wine. Vina Norte Tinto (red) Tacoronte Acentejo Denominacion de Origen, 14% volume goes down very well (around €18 a bottle depending where you drink it). And did you know that Canarian wine (Malmsey) is mentioned in Shakespeare and that the shipments of it gave the name to London’s Canary Wharf in the 16th century.
Add on trips
The pretty Del Duque beach is just below El Mirador and some people go down there to swim before breakfast. All watersports can be arranged by the hotel; golf too. And when you have chilled out, sightseeing may beckon. Everywhere in Tenerife can be reached on a day trip, but sometimes we hire a car and stay away for a couple of days. The many attractions of the island are well documented in other articles on Simonseeks.
Must-see is the National Park around Mount Teide (Spain’s highest peak at 3,718m above sea level). This amazing terrain attracts film-makers from all over the world. Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson were on location there for the remake of Clash of the Titans, released in March this year. The area is visited by astronomers and used by research teams to test robots designed to land on Mars.
Make for the Parador Canadas Del Teide which has a café, restaurant and comfortable bedrooms (from around €135 per room per night; www.paradore.es). Their shop sells natural floral perfumes and cosmetics made with local aloe vera.
On another scale altogether a visit to Siam Park (www.siampark.net) can almost seem like a side-trip to Thailand. Dramatic water slides are set amongst Thai architecture and sculpture. Incredibly, being inland, it also has a beach (created with white sand imported from The Algarve). The buildings have been made with recycled timber rescued from the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, shipped from Thailand to Tenerife in containers and built by a team of Thai craftsmen. The park is environmentally sound too. As the water in the pools is heated to 24 degrees, the park has its own ecological gas plant which makes a reduction of 70% in the CO2 emissions. Five restaurants and bars here include one with a Thai chef.
The same company runs Loro Parque, an animal and bird park in the north (www.loroparque.com) there is a discount if you visit both. The German owner, who has long standing connections with Thailand, is also the proprietor of Hotel Botanico in Puerto de la Cruz a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. This hotel incorporates a fabulous spa featuring oriental treatments. And, yes, an excellent Thai restaurant too, among several others.
Back at El Mirador, as a taster for the spa to open this summer, Alberto a highly trained and gifted masseur has been giving al fresco treatments under the palm trees. And Lorenzo, who trained in Asia, encourages guests to try Tai Chi by the pool. One lesson with him inspired me to take it up at home.
Getting to Tenerife south
Monarch has flights from Birmingham, Manchester, Luton and Gatwick.
EasyJet has flights from Bristol, Gatwick and Manchester.