Why should I go now?
Spring sounds good in theory, but in much of the northern hemisphere it means grey and cold as business as usual. Europeans still need to fly long haul to have guaranteed warm sunshine – or do they? The Canary Islands are beautifully toasty at this time of year, and never too hot, although you have to choose carefully: the rain in this part of Spain can sometimes arrive on windward hillsides.
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This is where the Ritz-Carlton Abama comes in. Built in the style of a Moorish palace, on a steeply raking mountainside dropping into the Atlantic, it is on the sunniest, southwest facing coast of Tenerife, which also happens to be entirely unspoiled by the overdevelopment in other parts of the island. To one side, banana plantations rise up relentlessly towards the peak of Mount Teide, a snow-capped volcano which at nearly 4000m is as high as most of the significant Alps. To the other, the mountainside plunges off a cliff and onto a semi-private white sand beach on a protected cove, facing the wild volcanic island of La Gomera.
Monarch butterflies flutter hello as you wander through the resort’s endless tropical gardens; Margaritas are mixed and and ice-cold draft beer is on tap next to all of the seven pools (and the beach); and the place is so spaced-out that you never feel overcrowded – and end up feeling very pleasantly spaced-out yourself.
What’s the lowdown?
The pool and beach action, or inaction, should be enough for anyone wanting a decompression from a long winter deal-making season. We enjoy sitting on a balcony facing out over the sea, looking at the ominous mountain shapes on Gomera turn a deep blue-green as the sun sets behind them and disappears, and a panoply of stars emerges – Tenerife is one of the best spots in the world for star-spotting, as it is so clear of pollution and light pollution.
But there is an enormous amount to do for active types: the hotel has its own championship golf course on the dizzying slopes leading up the volcano, with a vertical gain so dramatic that it can be noticeably chilly on the uppermost holes while the resort basks in sunshine. There are numerous tennis courts (and a tennis academy), a kids’ club with an extensive outside area and mini football/rugby pitch surrounded by tropical flowers, a series of interconnected ponds and water features filled with hundreds of decorative Koi carp, and then there’s the dining.
Two of the hotel’s restaurants have Michelin stars, an exceptional achievement this far from the coast of Africa; M.B is run by celebrated Basque chef Martín Berasategui, and Kabuki is an outpost of two renowned Madrid restaurants of the same name and outdoes either for both cuisine and location. Situated halfway up the golf course, Kabuki has a terrace with dramatic views down over the resort and the ocean, and a Japanese menu tinged with touches of the local – local catches are used for the sushi and sashimi, and flavoursome Canary mini-potatoes integrated into the menu. The wine list is rich with hard-to-find small grower champagnes.
Our favourite restaurant of all, though, is not Michelin starred; it is the Mirador, an eagle’s nest situated on top of a cliff plunging straight down into the ocean. On the terrace, you feel like you are floating over the sea, and Mirador is so celebrated for its paellas that it runs its own school, teaching clients how to cook the perfect blend of lobster, mussels, clams, local fish, saffron, and al dente rice.
Rooms are large, and simply but tastefully furnished in keeping with the semi-tropical setting, with marble floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and furniture and artefacts from west Africa, the nearest continent. Pay more for a room with a view out over the ocean.
If you’re travelling without kids and choose to dine within the family-friendly hotels in the centre of the complex, you might find more children around you than you care for; but otherwise, there are adult-only pools, and zones, and so much space around the grounds and facilities that you never feel overrun by other people’s offspring, unlike in many resorts at peak season. And outside peak season, you’ll have the place and views to yourselves. And while some rooms inside the main block have restricted views, if you choose a Villa in the grounds, you can walk out of your living room into your own gardens and pool area.
All in all, you could fly to the Caribbean or Indian Ocean and not have vistas, cuisine, and facilities to match. Believe us, we’ve done it.
Rates: From €245 + tax ( approx. £200 / $300 )