The lure of the wilder side of Tenerife
Well, what a delightful surprise. We had seen a poster advertising the Hotel Vincci Buenavista Golf and Spa whilst staying at its older sister Hotel Vincci La Plantacion del Sur in Costa Adeje in the south (a great hotel, described by Simonseeks’ Tenerife Expert, Andrea Montgomery). How enticing Buenavista looked, tucked below the Teno Mountain range, by the sea, in the far North West of the island. Wanting to see more of Tenerife, we decided to give it a try.
The two-hour drive from the south was certainly panoramic. We joined a zig-zag road at Santiago del Teide which took us past dramatic ravines and the ‘hidden’ village of Masca. Twists and turns gave us sudden views of a snow-clad Mount Teide, then drifts of glorious almond blossom came into view alongside exotic cactus and little carpets of wild flowers in bright contrast to the black volcanic rock.
Buenavista del Norte
Everything in this tiny remote town seems to go at a slow and sedate pace. The little mini market closes in the afternoons, and there are a few simple bars and cafes. We enjoyed La Cabana (26 Calle, El Puerto; +34 922 127922) a family-run restaurant which has good fish and a choice of local wines. Another recommendation is El Pescador (27 Molinos, +34 922 127 033).
The Buenavista Golf & Spa Hotel
Well sign-posted, this new hotel is a few kilometres out of town. On arrival we were made very welcome. The person who showed us to our room proudly pointed out the many attractive features, and we were immediately captivated by the utter peace and quiet. Because it is still little-known outside golfing circles the hotel is currently offering outstanding bargain rates from €112 (less than a third of their rack rates) for a double room, which includes a lavish buffet breakfast for two. You certainly don't need to be a golfer, or spa devotee, to appreciate this hotel as it makes an ideal base for exploring the north coast and remote interior region (Calle La Finca E-38480, Buenavista del Norte), but you do need to a car to get there.
Design and style
Although just over one year old, the design of the hotel includes Canarian wooden balconies and echoes of old Spanish style. Imaginative use has been made of natural materials. The bedrooms are havens of calm with very superior furnishings, fabrics and fittings. All rooms have separate walk-in closets with lots of hanging space and numerous drawers. The bathrooms are ultra-modern with copious complimentary toiletries.
Golf and spa
The hotel takes its name from the 18-hole golf course which surrounds the grounds. Designed by the great ‘Seve’ (Severiano Ballesteros) the Spanish former World Number One Golfer, the Buenavista golf course looks challenging, with plenty of attractive features. Hotel residents are offered great reductions on the green fees and other facilities. The attractive spa has an extensive range of all kinds of treatments.
Using the facilities
Day after day we sat by the superb free-form pool, which was surrounded by palms and immaculate beds of lava stone in which bright purple bougainvillea and red hibiscus were thriving. We moved, now and then, between canopied Bali-style beds and sun-loungers in various locations: poolside or onto the solarium terrace which had little curved walls of volcanic rock. The main diversion was lunch in the outdoor bar, where a bottle of chilled white wine and prawns sizzling in garlic hit the spot. Non-golfing partners of the mainly German, Scandinavian and Spanish guests (we saw very few Brits) were using the spa, or simply relaxing in the sun. There was always plenty of choice of places to sit, no noise and no pressure about anything. Bliss.
We had a memorable drive, on the road cut through the rock, to the nearby Teno Lighthouse. There is a boardwalk down to the sea from this remote point, from where there are extensive views along the north coast – and down to Los Gigantes which was glittering in the sun beneath the giant cliffs.
A 15-minute drive from Buenavista del Norte, is a buzzy little harbour town which was the capital of Tenerife until it was destroyed by volcanic eruption in 1706. It has several bars, cafes and little restaurants. We enjoyed Ribamar (12 Las Cruce; + 34 922 831 311) another typical Canarian restaurant specialising in fish. Ever nosey, I called into Hotel San Roque which has been created in an 18th-century mansion (see Andrea Montgomery's report here: San Roque). Situated on a cobbled street one row back from the seafront it exudes old world charm (32, Esteban de Ponte). The receptionist was happy to show me around, and also explained that although the restaurant is primarily used by their guests, non-residents can reserve a table for dinner (their restaurant is closed for lunch). Garachico has a branch of the popular Tenerife craft emporiums 'La Casa de Los Balcones', where I bought some of the locally-produced ‘Oceano’ natural perfumes made with flowers including rose, violet and jasmine (€12 for 100ml/3.4 fl oz).
We had another epic drive along mountain roads to Los Gigantes. Busy with Brits, it has a great range of shops and places to eat and drink. After buying a couple of pairs of the softest leather shoes in elegant Mallorca (39 Flor de Pascua; + 922 86 43 023) we enjoyed another really tasty version of our favourite prawns in garlic which came in lidded dishes at Restaurant 'Jardin del Sol' (5 Plaza Buganvilla; + 34 922 86 0504). On the way back to the car I discovered the little treasure trove that is Veronica's boutique (33 Flor de Pascua). I enjoyed very friendly service here by English Veronica Clemence who has an enticing range of very reasonably priced jewellery and handbags.
Teno Activo Activities is a multi-lingual adventure company which has a shop in Buenavista del Norte. Trekking to Masca, boat trips and sea kayaking are just some of the activities on offer (www.tenoactivo.com; +34 922 128 060).
Eating at the hotel
After days out it was a delight to get back to the hotel, have a swim and consider dinner. There is an a la carte Canarian restaurant (when we were there it was only open at weekends). The buffet restaurant (€30 per person for as much as you want to eat) is open every night. Spanish specialities are on offer alongside international hot and cold meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. A chef cooks fish or meat to order on a hot grill, and there are plenty of salads, cheeses and fresh fruit. The ambience is somewhat like a Golf Clubhouse, and dress is totally informal. The wine list includes good house wine, red or white (€17). Buffet breakfasts include bottles of Cava nestling in an ice bucket near the entrance (help yourself!) and smoothies made in a blender at the counter.
We flew from Gatwick to Tenerife South with MONARCH (who also have flights from Luton, Birmingham and Manchester). Prices vary all the time, but we found it well worth paying the supplement of £25 per person, per flight for extra legroom. We hired a car from Niza Cars (+34 922 79 29 19 or 922 792925) at Centro Comercial EL Duque in the South (or you can collect it at the airport). Allow a couple of hours to drive from the airport to Buenavista del Norte.