The Temptation of Tenerife

Written by  Michael Schoenberger

Europe Tenerife
When talking to clients about possible sun and surf destinations, it’s often hard to differentiate one lovely resort island from another - the resorts often seem cookie cutter, with the exact amenities from island to island. The cure for the ordinary island vacation is simple... send your clients to Tenerife. While it might not be quite as convenient as a Caribbean island, it makes up for the slightly longer travel time by offering more...much more!

Tenerife offers the best of two worlds - beach fun in the sun, and the charm of small European towns. The tourist board would likely describe it something like, Tenerife, an island of a thousand experiences, or more specifically, Tenerife, where you can get lost in nature, relax on the beach, climb Spain’s highest peak (Mount Teide), go shopping, see a show, walk the old town cobbles, have fun at a theme park, play golf...
Tenerife is largest of the Canary Island and uniquely while its part of Spain and Europe politically, it’s actually part of Africa geographically and located off the coast of Morocco.

GETTING AROUND
The best way for your clients to experience Tenerife is to combine both aspects of its dual nature. To satisfy that 5 star resort craving you can book them at the Ritz-Carlton Abama (www.ritzcarlton.com/abama). A truly magnificent 5 star property on the desert side of the island, here your clients can recuperate at their world class spa after a day in the water or a round of golf at their amazing 72 par golf course designed by golf legend Dave Thomas. Clients can dine in the Michelin starred Japanese fusion restaurant. After a few days at a luxury resort a short drive to the northwest side of the island will take them to a completely different experience. It’s actually like being on a totally different island.
Roads in Tenerife are similar in design and signage to mainland Europe, so it’s quite easy for travelers to rent a car, preferably a convertible, and drive themselves to a very different type of island experience. I would recommend a scenic trip to the town of Garachico.
Garachico is a small fishing village that makes you feel like you’re in southern Spain. The quiet streets are dotted with a few bars, cafes and gift shops and there are a few great fish restaurants down by the harbor, as you’d expect. The town would have looked a great deal different a few hundred years ago, as the mighty Mount Tiede erupted and more or less destroyed the entire area in 1706. It’s profited from the eruption though, and you can bathe in some of the black rock pools down by the beach.
Garachico is the perfect place to stay for a few days to discover the real, local Tenerife. I would recommend you book your clients at the Hotel San Roque (www.hotelsanroque.com). This charming hotel has found the perfect recipe of combining the traditional with the contemporary. They began with a beautiful canvas in the form of an 18th century traditional Tenerife mansion, but it’s the attention to detail in the restoration, the use of modern art installations, and most importantly, the impeccable taste and top notch service which make the Hotel San Roque so special.
Polished wooden floors and ochre walls combine beautifully around the large central courtyard lounge space with its contemporary sculpture and comfy armchairs. A stone staircase with an art installation ceiling designed to reflect the role of the lookout tower, leads to a wide, polished wooden balcony bedecked in designer furniture. From here you can walk through to the adjoining balcony above the swimming pool and restaurant and to the rooftop solarium and the lookout tower which now houses the hotel’s master suite. Furnishings are Rennie Mackintosh, Bauhaus and Josef Hoffmann, and are teamed with contemporary artwork, convenience and luxury in the form of whirlpool baths and high speed wifi.
Just down the road from Garachico is the slightly smaller town of Icod de los Vinos, which houses perhaps the island’s most prized possession. The Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco) stands proudly in a preserved garden and is said to be around 1,000 years old. Additionally, this town boasts some of the most interesting historical buildings on the island, such as the Convent of San Augustin and the Church of San Marcos. Founded in 1501, the village is a collection of seigniorial houses, ancient palaces, churches and convents.

Reaching New Heights
Garachio also makes a great base for exploring Mount Teide. Mount Teide is an active volcano, its last eruption was in 1909. The volcano and its surroundings comprise Teide National Park, which has an area of 47,000 acres and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Its 12,198 foot summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic. At 3 million annual visitors, this is the busiest National Park in Spain and Europe. A cable car goes from the roadside at the 7,730 foot mark, most of the way to the summit, reaching 11,663 feet. A word of note-lines can exceed two hours in peak season. Access to the summit itself is restricted to 200 people per day, yet the required permit is free of charge for the lucky few. You can also skip the cable cars, as many paths can take hikers to the upper cable car terminal, and then onto the summit (with the permit). If you have clients who enjoy hiking and would like to spend a bit more time in the National Park, the lovely Parador de Las Canadas del Teide hotel (www.parador.es) is situated within the park.
Hopefully this introduction to Tenerife, truly NOT another cookie cutter island, will lead you to look for additional information that may interest your clients. Not only is this island different from the normal island destinations, promoting it will help you differentiate your services from other agents. While travel times to Tenerife are a bit longer, it’s similar to many European destinations and easy connections are available for North America via Madrid’s Barajas Airport. www.traveltotenerife.com

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