LUX steps into a different universe of tranquillity, colour and cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton Abama resort in Tenerife, a short hop from western Europe
Stepping out of your room into a kaleidoscope washed by warm salty air is a delicious feeling. The kaleidoscope was the lavishly planted sea of flowers in multilayered, terraced tropical gardens around the villa where we were staying. A short stroll along the path took us past even more plants, trees and flowers of every conceivable colour, which rose first past several organically shaped pools and then onto the terrace where breakfast was served.
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The Ritz-Carlton Abama is located on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean and a volcanic island opposite. During breakfast time, this island was always covered in a mysterious, horror-movie murk, almost indistinguishable from the light-blue sky around it. The sun rises slowly in equatorial zones, and even though the morning air had a hint of chill in it, due to the coldness of the sea currents, we were indeed in an equatorial zone off the coast of Africa. The Canary Islands may have become host, in part, to unglamorous mass tourism recently, but they first came into Western awareness as a hive of distinctive species and ecosystems.
The days soon took on a familiar rhythm. Adjacent to the breakfast terrace, a 50-metre pool, curvaceous and irregular, is boarded by rows of sun lounges with a view down over the gardens to the sea. As the sun became stronger, we moved down to the beach, where a seafood and grill restaurant was washed by calling breezes and salty air. There is cliff jumping from either side of the bay where the long, sandy beach is located, and in the next bay you can jump from black volcanic rock to black volcanic rock admiring great schools of crabs, blue and orange, living in the twilight zone beneath them, between land and ocean.
Swimming in the clear sea, sheltered by a breakwater, involved being accompanied by fish – sometimes individuals, sometimes in shoals, occasionally monochrome, usually in an array of colours to match and even outdo their plant-based counterparts on land, with fluorescent blues and oranges all the vogue.
If we had not had the energy in the morning, an early-evening game at the tennis centre based around perfect clay courts next to the (celebrated) golf course was a way of adding to the exercise quotient, before either moving to one of the restaurants, or dining on room service on our own terrace overlooking treetops, banana plantations, the ocean and the volcanic island of Gomera. In the evening, this was lit up in pinks and greens, and strung by lights from its occasional roads, just visible from our vantage point 20 miles away across the water.
Fine dining is not often associated with the Canary Islands, something the original creators of Abama sought to change when building this resort. Unusually for an island in the Atlantic, 1,000 miles from the southern tip of Spain, it has Michelin-starred restaurants and an array of other dining spots with specialised cuisines and, often, spectacular views.
The most notable is Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant high above the resort and the 18- hole championship golf course. The whole resort is built on a steep volcanic slope, meaning the view down from Kabuki to the gardens, plantations, swimming pools and the sea is particularly captivating at dusk. Aperitifs are served on the terrace, and inside, the restaurant serves a celebrated blend of local and Japanese cuisine. The flame-seared fish nigiri is easily the most memorable thing on the menu.
At the other end of the resort, although by no means at the other end of the scale, El Mirador is an eagle’s nest atop cliffs that plunge down to the ocean. From the tables you can hear the sea crashing against the rocks far below and smell the ocean spray. Appropriately, El Mirador serves grilled fish and seafood, and is also celebrated for Spanish cuisine from a different part of the country: black rice paella. Like a number of the restaurants in the resort, it also serves a mean bowl of Canarian potatoes, which maximise on intense, nutty taste, accompanied by red and green chilli sauces.
The cascade of colours at sunset at El Mirador is a match for any oceanside location in the world, and a fitting end to a day that began with the kaleidoscope of flowers outside the villas. The villas themselves are the most secluded category of accommodation in a resort that is bigger than it may seem, so well blended is it with its natural context. We had a seaview suite, including a large living room, huge bedroom and two balconies, which should be plenty for any couple. It can be combined with an adjoining (equally large) bedroom for a family area big enough to match many people’s homes. Interior décor is all cool stone and tiles, with equally large bathrooms to match. And that fabulous morning cascade of colour as soon as you draw the curtain, or open the door.
One-bedroom suites in villas at The Ritz-Carlton Abama Tenerife start from €615, plus tax. Find out more: ritzcarlton.com/abama
This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.