As many of you know, I have been to Tenerife many times. I first went to the popular Canary Island in 1994, when the grandparents of a friend at school let us use their apartment in the school holidays. It was the first time I had been on an aircraft (yes, Luton to Tenerife was my first flight – on an airline called Oasis International Airlines, operated by Translift), and the first time in a foreign country.
Why is this important though, I have been back countless times since – both to the apartment complex we first visited nearly thirty years ago (Victoria Court 2 in Los Cristianos, if anyone wanted to know), as well as the nearby Arona Gran Hotel which is arguably the best hotel in the town. On my last trip a couple of years ago, I stayed at the Bahia del Duque in Costa Adeje, and before that, the Abama was just a little further up the coast. Being an inquisitive travel agent, I have also visited many of the better hotels in the south of the island.
So, I have lost count. Checking into the Arona Gran again this week they asked me how many times I have been to the hotel, something I couldn’t answer! However, that doesn’t really matter anymore, we shouldn’t have to worry whether we travel to a particular destination, hotel or country every year – after all we all travel for differing reasons and motives.
Yes, I love to travel somewhere new and exciting. As a company we have made it a policy that we will only accept ‘fam trips’ if it’s either somewhere different, or a hotel which has opened since we last travelled there. It’s in our nature as travellers to want to explore, discover new cultures, see amazing natural wonders and experience what our great world has to offer. Although sometimes, you want something familiar, something you just don’t have to think about to switch off, a change of scenery – and that’s what Tenerife offers.
It has been a few years since I stayed at the Arona Gran – I think it would have been 2019 as it was the year I went in the summer, the autumn and the winter, which I thought was a bit mad at the time. It’s great to see that they used the pandemic to make some really interesting changes – the reception has been redesigned to make it trendier and less formal, some redesigning around the pool and the signage has changed.
This time, I had a suite overlooking the pool. I would generally recommend having a side-sea view (not overlooking the pool) or requesting a room near the market end of the hotel as these get more sun on their balconies. You could also upgrade to an Up! Room or suite which gives access to the exclusive rooftop bar and pool. My suite was essentially two rooms with an interconnecting door (although the hotel is now adult-only, it used to allow children) with two bathrooms, a lounge and a bedroom with a double-width balcony. More than enough for a few day’s holiday.
For November, I was struck by just how busy it was. The airport was really busy, the hotel was really busy and even in the town, there were far more people than I had ever seen in November. Thankfully, the hotel is big enough that it isn’t a problem – although you do sometimes have to wait for a sunbed around the pool if it’s really busy. Yes, as you would expect at this time of year, you would say that it is mainly those who are retired, but interestingly there were quite a few younger people this time as well – maybe a reflection of those who are choosing to go out of season (although November isn’t a particularly cheap month to stay there, even though the airfares are very cheap at the moment).
The Arona Gran has everything you would expect of a very, very decent 4* hotel in the Canaries (although tour operators may describe it as five-star). The buffet restaurant is very good, especially at breakfast with a fabulous view over the harbour. If you get up early enough you’ll be able to see the ferries from Gomera and La Palma arrive, as well as having an excellent overview of the whole of Los Cristianos. There is plenty of choice – including many different varieties of jam, bread, fruits and the alternative of a fully cooked breakfast.
Los Cristianos is nice enough. Unlike some of the other resorts in Tenerife, it’s a proper working town, dominated by the port, but it also has a lovely shopping area and town square with the church right in the centre. As usual with the Canary Islands, I would recommend eating out, there are just so many options to eat outside the hotel, and all within a very short distance. It’s about a 15-minute walk into the main centre, and even then if you don’t feel like walking back, a taxi is very cheap. For those whose mobility isn’t the best, it’s also really easy to hire a mobility scooter – they usually start somewhere around €10 per day.
It might sound boring to some, but there is something to be said about going somewhere on ‘autopilot’ and not have to think about anything – from knowing where you need to go when you arrive, to what you’re going to have for dinner or excursions you might go on during the day.