Statistics show that the Canary Islands — and Lanzarote in particular — are the favourite destination for Irish holidaymakers. Despite a flight time of four hours and 15 minutes, many people prefer it over the much shorter flights that can take them to the Balearic Islands or any of the Costas in mainland Spain and it comes down to one single USP, the guarantee of good weather.
Given the variability of modern-day weather, I’d be inclined to drop the word ‘guaranteed’ because on a recent visit to the Canaries, four of my seven days there were spent under a grey, cloudy sky. I’m probably atypical of a lot of Irish people because Tenerife is my island of choice and it has always been notorious for grey skies, especially in the north of the island around Puerto de la Cruz and the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. That’s why many years ago, they built a new airport on the south of the island where the weather tends to be better on account of the fact that it lies further away from the imposing mountain (the tallest in all the Spanish territories) that is Mount Teide. Tenerife has always occupied a special place in my heart because it is where I spent my honeymoon over 40 years ago and I’ve been coming back ever since almost every other year, albeit for business rather than pleasure these days.
One of the hotels that I regularly stayed in on previous trips was the Melia Jardines del Teide (the other being the Gran Costa Adeje Hotel), both very reasonably priced five-star hotels located in the upmarket Costa Adeje area. The Melia property had had an upgrade since I had last stayed there about four or five years ago so I was keen to see what they had done to the place. The hotel is located on what must have been a very challenging site to both excavate and develop as it probably drops 150 feet or more from the front to the rear of the property. Standing at the front entrance at the top of the hill on which it sits, it looks like an average three-story hotel so it’s only when you walk through the lobby that you see the full extent of the property which drops a further five floors through a series of terraces that include waterfalls, beautifully manicured gardens and bridges that meander all over the place. Disabled guests are well catered for with lifts to all levels and a series of ramps that go all the way from top to bottom, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for anyone with mobility issues.
The substantial pool area at the lower level of the hotel complex has remained largely unchanged (to be honest, it would have been difficult to improve on it), so it has been on the upper ground level and ground -1 level that much of the changes have occurred and these, collectively are now called ‘The Level’ — a kind of hotel within a hotel! Think executive floor concept that one often finds in business hotels. The Level features a separate check-in area which is located one floor below the lobby and where, each evening at 5.30 p.m. complimentary drinks and tapas are served for an hour. The quality of the tapas and the drink offerings are great and, judging by the number of patrons availing of the ‘Happy Hour’, quite a popular innovation. The same space, now called the Level Lounge (it used to be a kid’s play area and where night time entertainment was performed) is also used to serve breakfast which has both self and table service. The Level also features a separate, private pool area where complimentary smoothies are served during the day and where the staff are amazingly attentive and helpful. You can also hire out cabanas by the pool which include supplies of bottled water and sun cream for around €30 per day, based on two people sharing. Located adjacent to the pool area is a large open space which serves a dual purpose as both outdoor overflow to the main restaurant (The Mosaico buffet restaurant) and the space in which entertainment is delivered nightly — the quality of which is quite high. The hotel also features a separate Italian restaurant called Casa Nostra where the food is great but, frustratingly, the menu rather limited! Down by the main pool on the lower level, patrons may also enjoy snacks and a limited lunch menu at the La Palapa snack bar.
The look and feel of the Melia is now much more ‘boutiquey’ (if such a word exists) and will appeal to anyone who likes lots of white, clean and crisp surfaces although the lower levels of the complex still retain much of their original look — presumably because of the challenges that the management would have faced in re-modelling the entire property and presumably also because they wanted to differentiate between the ‘Level’ and the rest of the property.
The Melia Jardines del Teide sits, as mentioned earlier, at the top of a hill and so returning to the property on foot, if you been down at the beach and represent a bit of a hike but on the upside, you get to enjoy some pretty commanding views all over the whole Costa Adeje area, particularly from the watchtower which oversees the whole complex and where yoga lessons are conducted most mornings!