Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is just a four-hour flight from the UK, but it can offer year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches and a wide range of activities.
Add to this volcanic vistas, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, great food and wine and a hotel portfolio spanning everything from family-friendly three-stars to luxurious private-pool villas, and it’s no surprise the UK is Tenerife’s largest inbound market.
More than 1.6 million of us visited in 2008. That represents a 4% drop on 2007, but the tourist board is confident the UK will maintain its market share.
Tenerife Tourism Corporation travel industry director Pia Louw said reductions in flight capacity have dented arrivals, but, in spite of the weak pound, Tenerife remains a very affordable destination.
“As well as offering some of Europe’s leading hotels, Tenerife has accommodation to suit all budgets – both in the south, known for its superb beaches; and the lesser-known north of the island, with its traditional hilltop towns and spectacular scenery.
“Variety is a big selling point – Tenerife offers a wide range of attractions ranging from whale-watching to wine-tasting and rock climbing to star gazing.”
Agents struggling to get clients to commit should look out for some superb deals at reputable hotels. According to Classic Collection Holidays head of product Gary
Boyer this is a very good time to travel to the Canaries.
“Hoteliers were waiting to see what happened but we’re starting to get additional deals and price reductions. Right now we have more than 130 offers available across our Canary Islands portfolio.”
Four new hotels will open across the island this year. The five-star Hotel El Mirador Playa del Duque recently opened on Costa Adeje with more than 100 rooms, while 40 villas were added to the Canarian-style Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque in January. Each of the villas has a private pool in subtropical gardens. An ESPA spa opens this spring.
The south is flush with bars, pubs and nightclubs, but to dig the local scene head for Calle de la Nori, in the vibrant northern city of Santa Cruz, where you can take your pick from scores of bars, restaurants and tascas.
Don’t forget one of Europe’s biggest street parties – the Santa Cruz Carnival Parade is a highlight of the annual Tenerife Carnival, held in February. Sip cosmopolitans with the fashionistas in the trendy Noria district, or for chic alternatives in the south head for El Faro Chill Art, Monkey Beach Club and Liquid Bar.
For a different take on the nightlife why not celebrate the Year of Astronomy with some star gazing? The Teide National Park puts on a particularly good show in July and August when shooting stars, nebulas and galaxies including the Milky Way can be seen without binoculars.
Splash out at the all-new Siam Park, the latest addition to Tenerife’s theme parks, where kids can frolic in a volcano, get close to alligators, drift along the world’s longest ‘lazy river’, build castles on the 9,500 sq metre beach and surf the world’s largest man-made waves.
In addition to killer whales, sharks, penguins, sea lions and dolphins, Loro Parque in Puerto de la Cruz houses the largest collection of parrots in the world. For nature-loving families, a visit to Teide National Park is a must. The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Family-friendly hotels include Hotel Costa Los Gigantes in Santiago del Teide, which offers 481 junior suites, a babysitting service, several swimming pools, a cinema and a mini-disco and children’s buffet, while 31 new family rooms have opened at the four-star Jardin Tropical Hotel Costa Adeje.
The cooler, greener north of the island offers respite from busy beaches and partying in its thriving arts, heritage and cultural scene.
Los Realejos’ black-sand beaches, La Orotava’s pretty Old Quarter, the fine Canarian architecture and art galleries of La Laguna, the lush Orotava Valley and the local cuisine, wines and boutique hotels found in charming Isla Baja offer a glimpse of what the north has in store.
About a 45-minute drive from Tenerife South airport is Santa Cruz, the island’s capital. Stroll down the Ramblas for shopping, soak up the ambience in the revamped Plaza de España, take in a jazz or classical concert at Santiago Calatrava’s waterfront auditorium and explore hidden villages in the rugged, green Anaga region.
With Spain’s highest peak, a lava-strewn moonscape (the Star Wars backdrop), the plummeting cliffs of Los Gigantes, a carpet of ancient forest and the lush hiking territory of the Orotava Valley among its topographical highlights, there’s plenty to keep active types happy.
The more adventurous can climb to the snow-capped peak of Mount Teide (six hours) or hike down Masca Gorge (four hours) in the spectacular Teno Rural Park.
For something a little gentler, the north’s lush landscapes and verdant valleys are perfect for combining a wine excursion with trekking, a heritage tour or a trip to a local market or museum.
Along the Tacoronte-Acentejo Wine Route clients can visit vineyards and charming family-run wineries while taking in the picturesque volcanic landscape on an à la carte wine tour.
Luxury and spa
A number of luxury options have come on stream in the Costa Adeje in the past five years, while in the more traditional north, the feeling of exclusivity is enhanced by luxurious hotels designed in typical Canarian style – often in faithfully restored mansion houses. The area also boasts Europe’s largest spa complex, the Aqua Club.
When it comes to spa, the Puerto de la Cruz’s healing waters, coupled with minerals from the dormant Mount Teide, make for a potent therapeutic mix. At the Mare Nostrum Resort – a five-star seafront resort with four pools and a vast thalassotherapy spa – you’ll find more volcanic treatments than you can throw a pumice stone at.
For something a bit different, La Plantación del Sur is set in a former 14th century banana plantation. After completing the hotel’s Canarian Circuit in a volcanic cave, visitors can try a banana face mask at the Nammu Spa
Classic Collection has seven nights for the price of five at the Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque for £941 per person (saving £480 per couple) and added-value packages at Jardin Tecina, La Gomera and Jardin Tropical, with complimentary spa treatments, green fees and upgrades to full-board. Flights cost extra. (Tel: ?0800 008 7299)
Attraction World sells a one-day ticket to Siam Park for £27 (£19 per child); Loro Parque tickets for £30 (£20 per child) and a two-park combo-ticket for £40 (£30 per child). Tickets to the Aqualand water park on Costa Adeje cost £22 (£16 per child) and to Las Aquilas Jungle Park, £22 (£14 per child). Return flights on Monarch Airlines from Manchester cost from £125 in April. (Tel: ?0871 984 8008,??attractionworld.com)
Prestige Holidays sells a week at the 18th century Hotel Rural Victoria in the village of Orotava from £600 in low season including flights and private transfers. (Tel: ?01425 480 400)
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