Finding Shopping Paradise in Icod de Los Vinos

Ask your average visitor to Tenerife or ex-pat resident what they know about Icod de los Vinos and they’ll tell you it’s the home of the Millenium Drago Tree. Those more familiar with the area might well add that it has the picturesque cove and tranquil beach of San Marcos. But ask a Canario what they know about Icod de los Vinos and they’ll tell you it’s the best place on Tenerife for shopping.

With the Three Kings safely returned to the East and shopkeepers all over the island taking a red marker pen to their price labels, Tenerife Magazine heads off to the picturesque town of Icod de los Vinos to find out why Tinerfeños believe there’s a whole lot more to Icod than just a drago tree.

Shopping in Icod de los Vinos
Strolling down the busy pavement of Calle Key Muñoz in Icod de los Vinos, my eye is drawn by a sign which tells me I can buy clothes imported from Miami and New York from just €9.95. Popping inside, my fingers are itching to reach for the credit card as tailored dresses and skirts, so different from the usual, mass produced merchandise that fills the racks of major chain stores, yearn to be tried on.

My shopping senses awakened, I decide to take a look down Calle San Sebastián where I”M stopped in my tracks by the sight of exquisitely tailored Italian imported dresses wearing the sort of price label they would presumably not be seen dead in, were they still to be in Italy. Further investigation reveals an entire shop dedicated to French and Italian couture at prices that were eyebrow raising before the sales and are now just too good to ignore.

The trouble with buying fashionable little Italian numbers is that you simply have to have shoes and a handbag to match, and naturally some new earrings, maybe a necklace…

To those in the know, Icod de los Vinos is the place to come when you want to refresh your wardrobe, step into this season’s shoes, stock up on some fine wines or find the perfect gift for special occasions without busting the budget. In other words, Icod is a shopper’s paradise.

One of the oldest settlements on Tenerife, after the conquest Icod was quickly recognised for its fertile valleys. From 1496 sugar plantations were planted across the area attracting wealth and settlers to make it their home. But in the 17th century the sugar trade collapsed and the first vines that came to lend their names to the area were planted. Today the municipality of Icod de los Vinos produces excellent wines, predominantly cultivating the listan grape variety, under the Ycoden-Daute-Isora denomination label where, across eight municipalities, almost a million kilos of grapes are processed.

The wealth generated by the wine industry distilled a culture of commercialism in Icod de los Vinos which is evident in the 200 or more shops that make up one of the oldest shopping centres on Tenerife. Beneath the benign gaze of Mount Teide and the traditional balconies, family businesses have thrived here for decades. Keeping their prices low and their stock constantly changing, the shopkeepers of Icod aim to ensure their customers will return and, judging by the crowds who are enjoying the winter sunshine as they gather carrier bags by the armful, it’s a strategy that’s working.

Time for Tea
Having toured the main shopping streets of San Agustá­n, San Sebastián, Key Muñoz, Infanta Isabel and De la Cruz, it’s time for a sit down and a nice cup of tea. Turning the corner onto Calle San Sebastián at the Town Hall, I spot tables and chairs outside a quaint little tea shop and spotting the sign on the window, I have to do a double take as the words ‘rosy Lee’ jump out at me. Inside, Rosy Lee looks for all the world like Miss Marple might be sitting in the window with a pot of tea and a fairy cake, musing on her latest murder mystery.

Flower wallpaper and wooden shelves stacked with Twinings tea and pots of relish form the backdrop to elegant tables on which China cups, antique tea pots and dainty milk jugs sit. Ordering a pot of breakfast tea, I notice English cake trays with home made cream buns and the display cabinet which is filled with scrumptious looking cakes, its counter adorned with rows of marzipan mice and pastel coloured fairy cakes.

“Are you British?” I ask the owner, Nátalie Delgado, as she places my pot of tea before me.
“No. I was born in Puerto de la Cruz,” she replies in an accent that would have you swear in court that she was born and bred somewhere south of Bristol. “But I spent 10 years working in England and I have a lot of English friends who constantly pick me up on my accent.”
All I can say is, Nátalie didn’t just learn how to speak like a native while she was in England, she perfected the art of making a grand cup of tea too.

Malvasía Wine
Sated of shopping for the day, I head back to the car and find myself looking into the doorway of the Museo de Malvasí­a where the walls are covered with framed quotations from Shakespeare, Keats, Ben Johnson and Herman Melville and the shelves are filled with the subject of those quotations Malvasí­a wine, the Canary Islands” most famous tipple.

Housed in one of the beautiful, historic houses that line Plaza de la Pila, the Museo is a mine of information on the historic grape and its famous advocates. Stocking a wide selection of malvasia wines from across the Canary Islands, the museum also offers wine tastings so you can try before you buy. It’s all the excuse I need to indulge in a little more quality assurance of the products on offer in Icod de los Vinos.

“Oh Knight, thou lackest a cup of canary; when did I see thee so put down?” asked Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night.

Quite right, Sir Toby, it will never do. Adding a bottle of the Bard’s favourite tipple to the day’s haul, I bid adios to Icod…until next time.


Top Ten-erife Fountains

With heatwave after heatwave hitting the island this summer, there’s nothing quite like the sight and sound of a fresh, bubbling fountain to give you the illusion of cool, and Tenerife just happens to have a penchant for the elaborate wet stuff. From traffic roundabouts to shopping centres and city parks to pavements, here’s Tenerife Magazine’s pick of some of the island’s most eye-catching fountains.

The Bathers ““ Costa del Silencio

The Bathers Fountain, Costa del Silencio

You’ve got to love something as quirky and surreal as these bathers in their swimming pool in a location as mundane as a Costa del Silencio shopping centre. Sporting their eclectic head and eye wear while twirling and scanning the sky for, who knows what ““ UFOs I suspect, they’re quite possibly the coolest fountain on Tenerife.

Fecundidad ““ Santa Cruz

Fecundidad fountain, Parque Garcia Sanabria, Santa Cruz

Idly bathing her feet while rainbows dance around her plump knees, the voluptuous Fecundidad in Parque Garcia Sanabria seems oblivious to the public gaze of her private ritual. Unassuming and serene, she’s an enduring icon of the city.

Plaza España ““ Santa Cruz

Plaza España, Santa Cruz

From the centre of a placid lake of deepest blue, a single perpendicular needle of water shoots heavenwards; it’s a geometric work of water art. We just wish they’d keep the damn thing filled because when it’s empty, it’s nothing more than a concrete bowl.

Lago Martiánez ““ Puerto de la Cruz

Fountain, Lago Martianez, Puerto de la Cruz

Turning illusion of cool into reality, this fountain in its César Manrique-designed home of Lago Martiánez provides a stylish and invigorating exfoliant to bathers by day and morphs into a burning island in a pirate lagoon by night.

Los Cristianos

Fountain, Los Cristianos

The Cristiano Ronaldo in our decorative outpourings is the elaborately, show-off centrepiece of the busy roundabout that heralds your arrival in Los Cristianos. Unfortunately, due to the current water shortage, it was hiding its watery light under a dry bushel when we captured this image so if anyone has a photo of it in action that they’d like to share…

Safari Centre ““ Playa de Las Américas

Dancing Fountain, Safari Centre, Playa de Las Américas

The Vegas-style performance of the coloured dancing fountain which graces the designer labels and bistro bars of the Safari Centre has become something of a tourist attraction. I don’t think Siam Park really needs to worry but, hey, it’s nice.

Parque Santiago IV ““ Costa Adeje

Fountain, Parque Santiago IV, Playa de Las Américas

The Johnny-come-lately of our gushing collection is this rather elegant and understated piece of fountain art outside the Parque Santiago IV. Having it at ground zero makes it all the more accessible for everyone, although signs make it very clear you’re not allowed to play in it. Spoilsports.

Plaza Adelantado ““ La Laguna

Fountain, Plaza Adelantado, La Laguna

Time to introduce a bit of class to this motley spouting selection, with the marble fountain from Plaza Adelantado in La Laguna. Dating from 1870, the marble reflects the sunlight off the water in mesmerizing patterns and the detail in the carving is superb, but best of all, it tinkles just like a fountain should.

Princesa Dacíl ““ La Orotava

Princesa Dacíl fountain/fuente, La Orotava

Say hello to the ethnic addition to our eclectic ten. Sited at the entrance to Tenerife’s most aristocratic town, this is the Guanche Princess Dacíl and at her feet is the Guanche symbol of fertility, Tara.

Fuente La Alhóndiga ““ Tacoronte

Fuente La Alhóndiga, Tacoronte

A bit like Plaza España, this beauty is unfortunately often left dry but when the hoses have been in action and the water rises, it brings a whole new aspect to the 17th century, former grain store of Casa La Alhóndiga. Loving its contemporary simplicity.


Desigual is Design for Life

Several years ago I was wandering along Calle Castillo in Santa Cruz and I came across a small designer fashion outlet whose name I didn’t recognise. Browsing the racks, I could very easily have bought 70% of the stock. The clothes were bright, soft, well tailored and completely original.
Unfortunately at that time designer clothes on my budget were as feasible as snow on Playa Las Vistas and I left the store empty handed but with the memory of those designs impressed on my mind.

At the beginning of last year a dress caught my eye in a shop window in Puerto de la Cruz, a window I had passed a dozen times a week but which was usually so uninspired as to be invisible to me.
There was no mistaking it ““ the style, the cut, the colours ““ it was the designer label I had seen in Santa Cruz all those years ago. I looked at the label and committed it to memory.
It said Desigual.

Be yourself
Innovation, creativity and daring are the cornerstones of Desigual’s design philosophy.

They challenge the world of anonymity and homogeneity, creating clothes that project an image of self confidence and optimism for people who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd.
What’s equally important for me is that their clothes, although predominantly directed towards a younger market, are stylish and individual without being ‘out there’ which means they’re accessible to all ages and sizes.
Beautiful tailoring ensures a flattering look in dresses, skirts and jackets which is another big plus point in my book. You don’t have to be a Kate Moss to wear them, although I”M pretty sure Kate would look sensational in them.

Originally known for its patchwork designs, Desigual collections include softer and more sophisticated uses of colour in sensual, easy to wear fabrics of silk, organza, cotton and linen. Everything is finished with hand stitching, highlights and beading and Desigual’s signature graffiti.

High profile
Founded in Barcelona in 1985 by Swiss business man Thomas Meyer, the company has seen phenomenal growth through the last decade and their stores are now a recognised worldwide brand.
In August last year Desigual hit the retail fashion headlines when they fought off rivals O2 and Mango to secure the former Disney store on London’s Oxford Street for a staggering £710 per sq ft, creating a new record for Zone A rents on the street and sending shock waves through existing tenants who feared commensurate hikes in their rent.

At their latest New York store opening they took a non-descript building in Herald Square, downtown Manhattan and commissioned Colossal Media to create a vibrant, colourful canvas on the building’s façade. The block is now a Manhattan landmark and loudly proclaims the optimism that the company promotes.

Dream opportunity ““ nightmare scenario
I”M sure I’m not the only one who’s ever had that nightmare where you’re standing at the bus stop wearing just a vest which is too short to cover your bare essentials.

Well last summer in Barcelona, San Sebastian, Marbella, Madrid and New York that nightmare turned into reality for anyone brave enough to rise to the Desigual challenge of “come in your underwear and leave in Desigual”.
The company invited customers at their stores to arrive in just their underwear and the first 100 would be clothed for free in whatever garments they chose. Everyone else in line in just their underwear got a 50% discount.
I”M guessing the phrase “would you like that wrapped” wasn’t much in evidence that day.

Adding a little je ne sais Lecroix
With the unveiling of the new Autumn-Winter 2011-2012 Dream collection, Desigual has taken a bold new step and is teaming up with Christian Lacroix to design 30 garments.

Monsieur Lacroix said about Desigual: “I was awestruck by the first girl dressed by desigual that I saw in Paris. As I watched her, I could recognise in her a member of my own tribe. It was an explosion of colors and patchwork under the elegant, discreet and always monotonous French sky. It was fantastic, truly love at first sight, a breath of fresh air, all multicoloured, scorching, revitalizing, radiating Mediterranean colours and flavours and creeping into this global and colourless magma inhabited by zombies and clones.”

Whilst I suspect I may well fall into the category of “zombie and clone” in Monsieur Lacroix’s rather excited description, redemption is on the horizon. On a short trip to Santa Cruz de La Palma last week I bought a Desigual dress.
This is haute couture at prices even a writer can aspire to, but I got my dress half price in the sale. There’s still a hint of a grin on my lips even as I type.

There are 235 Desigual outlets across the UK ““ check their website to find your nearest.
On Tenerife there are outlets in La Camella, Chio, Icod de Los Vinos, La Laguna, La Orotava, Los Cristianos, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz. Addresses and locations are shown on the website.

Desigual have now launched their online store so you’ve no excuse for not grabbing a bit of this positive outlook without leaving the comfort of your keyboard and what’s more, there are sales on at the moment.


Presents Galore at the Pinolere Craft Fair

Pinolere is one of the biggest and most enchanting craft fairs on Tenerife and is located on the slopes of a hill so steep that just getting from the car to the pavement requires steely thighs and a supply of oxygen.

On the first weekend of September over 230 craftspeople from Tenerife, the other Canary Islands and mainland Spain laid out their wares on stalls and in the shade of the thatched huts that for the rest of the year are part of the Pinolere Ethnological Museum in the highlands of La Orotava.

Under blue skies and with views to die for as a backdrop over 30,000 people turned up to get in some early Christmas shopping.

This is shopping with a difference. Stalls are spread over a series of levels but with vistas like Pinolere’s it can be difficult to take your eyes off the scenery to check out the goodies on sale.

Crafts range from the traditional, such as these wicker baskets…

…to those that you might as well sellotape straight on to your stomach.

And then there are the more contemporary works like these cheeky designs.

Or Canarian classics – hand rolled cigars from La Palma; as good as Cuban cigars…so the people from La Palma will tell you.

As well as hundreds of delightfully unique crafts on sale, the fair has art & craft making exhibitions, live music, rabbits and birds to coo over, demonstrations of traditional life in the hills , these wonderful huts and loads of secret corners to explore…and all for a €2.50 entrance fee.

If you missed Pinolere this year, don’t fret there are other craft fairs and markets around Tenerife, just not in such a spectacular location. Keep an eye on our ‘Happenings” page for news of a fair in October featuring crafts from South America, Africa and the Canary Islands.


Tenerife Shopping – Bijou Brigitte Launch Their New Jewellery Collection

Charleston Charm

The heat’s rising on Tenerife’s beaches and the sales are in full swing; it’s the perfect time to bag a bargain summer outfit and dress it up with some of Bijou Brigitte’s eye-catching new jewellery collection.


If you haven’t already discovered Bijou Brigitte, you’re in for a treat. With branches all over Tenerife, this little treasure trove of trinkets is packed with enticing earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, brooches, hair bands and more – all colour co-ordinated to make it easy to find exactly the shade you’re looking for.
It’s a great little shop in which to buy gifts for the jewellery lovers in your life too with prices ranging from piggy-bank friendly to lavish gesture. It’s always an early stop for me on the Christmas shopping trip.

The new Autumn/Winter 2010/2011 collection evokes memories of foreign travel and secret romance in vintage retro mode. Think Casablanca and Brief Encounter – cassis, champagne and smoky crystal shades in 1920’s style.
Paris provides the inspiration for the new season’s fun accessories in bright, primary colours; an Eiffel Tower pendant, charm watches, pretty polka-dot bows and hooped earrings.

The Jet Set

Or fast forward to the 21st Century and team up satin and chiffon with polished jet and rhinestone chandelier earrings and lace gloves to show off the summer tan on El Faro’s rooftop bar.

This is fashion jewellery at its best for me ““ great value for money; a huge selection of styles and colour co-ordinated displays so you simply find the shade you want and settle in to enjoy the spoilt-for-choice experience.


Top Ten-erife Markets

Torviscas (Thursdays and Saturdays 9am to 2pm, opposite the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel)
One of the biggest markets in the South; clothes, jewellery, handbags, shoes, souvenirs, books”¦and even a fashion show. There are bargains to be had as long as you can tell The Real Thing from The Pretenders.

Los Cristianos (Sunday mornings 9am to 2pm, next to the Arona Gran Hotel)
Probably the largest market in the South with extensive stalls selling everything from crafts to clothing. Expect to be elbow to elbow with fellow browsers and feel free to practice your bartering skills.

Santa Cruz Rastro (Sunday mornings 9am to 1.30pm, around the African Market)
If you can sell it, you can buy it at the Sunday Rastro in Santa Cruz. By far, the biggest market on Tenerife. From African drums to Zinnia plants; browse the hundreds of stalls in air perfumed with patchouli oil and hot dogs. Not so much a market as a retail experience. Top shopping.

Tegueste (Saturdays & Sundays 8am to 2pm, Mercadillo del Agricultor ““ behind the PCAN station)
Fruit and vegetables straight from the farmer’s fork (often with soil still attached); mouth-watering home-made cakes and bread; hand crafted models and ornaments and best of all, local wine – all accompanied by Latino music. You may need to book a room, or at very least, salsa lessons.

El Médano (Saturdays 9am to 2pm ““ Plaza de Principe)
Neo-hippies and cool dudes selling handmade jewellery, clothing, African artefacts and all things Bohemian. Probably the coolest market on Tenerife; wear your best shades.

Los Abrigos (Tuesdays 5pm to 9pm, top of the harbour)
Tenerife’s only regular night market. CDs, DVDs, clothing, jewellery, belts and more, all a short stroll from the best fish restaurants in the south and perfectly timed to examine your purchases over a plate of seabass and a glass of white.

La Laguna (Every day to 2pm, Plaza del Cristo)
Air thick with the smell of spices, cut flowers and salt fish ““ La Laguna market is the most comprehensive food market on Tenerife. Whether it’s meat, fish or fowl, you’ll find it here; as well as cheeses, cakes, sauces, wines, plants, flowers”¦a foodie’s paradise.

Tacoronte (Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 2pm, Tacoronte ““ Tejina road)
One of the largest agricultural markets on Tenerife with over 100 stalls of produce. Cakes, pastries, wines, cheeses and herbs ““ trash the diet sheet before you go.

Flea Market, Puerto de la Cruz (Saturdays 9am to 2pm, outside Supermercado Municipal)
A colourful local market with a mix of new and second hand goods. Antiques, books, clothes, ornaments and lots of excellent crafts. Inside the mercado on the first floor is a really good farmers” market too – that’s two markets for the price of one, ladies and gentlemen.

Feria Recinto (Avenida de la Constitución, Santa Cruz)
From cars to Christmas and babies to brides, the 40,000 square metres of Institución Ferial de Tenerife is THE place for trade fairs. This coming weekend (19th -21st March) is weddings. Check their website for details.
As markets go ““ this one’s MASSIVE.


Style Counsel ““ Zara

Zara store in Shanghai, Nanjing Road

With 519 stores dotted around the country, you’re never far from a Zara in Spain”¦ or in the UK, or France, or even India in future as Zara stores are scheduled to open in New Delhi and Mumbai in 2010. In fact there are over 1500 Zara stores in 73 countries worldwide; they’ve come an awfully long way since Amancio Ortega opened the first shop in his home town of A Coruña, Galicia in 1975.Zara autumn-winter 09-10

Zara’s Autumn/Winter 09/10 collection has seen a return to the big shoulders and tiny waists of the 80s for women. Fitted trouser suits worn over soft silk blouses in nude and muted earth tones give power style a soft edge. Long tunic tops in creamy soft cotton worn under leather bomber jackets with skinny trousers or minis and thigh-length boots create Dick Whittington meets Angelina Jolie sex appeal.
Men are getting in on the act with leather bomber jackets and knitted American Jock-style cardigans paired with sharp cut, military style double-breasted jackets. Trousers are baggy with cuffed bottoms worn inside ankle boots. It’s all very communist worker and will have you reaching for the vodka and your well-thumbed Tolstoy.

Of course, with a design-to-shop turnaround of just two weeks compared to the industry standard of six months, it could all have changed by the time you’ve read this and made your way to your nearest store.
Still, the sales are just around the corner and Zara always has huge discounts on everything. Happy bargain hunting!


Style Counsel – Oysho

Oysho 20s style_1

Oysho is one of those shops you need to keep a regular eye on as they change their stock so frequently that you just might miss something.

Recently moving more into the teens market as well as women’s wear, Oysho specialises in underwear and what they term “˜home wear’ which is a mix of pyjamas and soft, comfy things for wearing about the house.
To be honest, some of my nicest tops have come from Oysho’s home wear collection but I wear them to go out in. Of course, now I’ve told everyone that, I’ll probably get sniggered at in the street.

If you’ve got presents for teenage girls on your Christmas shopping list, Oysho’s a great place to find girlie pyjamas and underwear in pretty pink florals or Mickey Mouse motifs which the early teens love.

For us rather more grown up women, this autumn’s underwear is 1920s style. Designed to emulate a period in history when intellectual women were experiencing social emancipation, you could call it the Bloomsbury bloomers collection. But they don’t, they just call it the Twenties Collection.

Knickers are French style in polka dots and bows with matching balconette bras in ruched velvet and soft cottons. Beautiful black satin corsettes and silk pyjamas will have you reaching for the cigarette holder while humming Rhapsody in Blue and wafting a marabou fan.

Oysho stores can be found in major commercial centres in Santa Cruz, La Orotava and the south of Tenerife.


Style Counsel – Stradivarius

Autumn has arrived at Stradivarius with their Back to Black collection.

Black leather, studs and chains matched with silk scarves, slouchy boots and bomber jackets pick up this season’s aviator look. The waist makes a return with 60s meets 80s style featuring the miniest of skirts over leggings, slinky tops belted at the waist, killer heels and faux fur and animal prints.

The Stradivarius label brings the constantly changing face of fashion to affordable street wear. Collections team avant-garde with basics making their clothes hugely accessible and desirable to a broad range of ages. Unlike some outlets, Stradivarius dares to be different and brings a touch of originality to those who want to create their own style. Always popular, when the sales come around you can guarantee the longest queues will be at Stradi’.

Jackets range from €30 to €60; jeans and trousers average around the €20/€25 tag; tops and dresses fall into an affordable €10 to €20; and shoes and boots will set you back €50 to €70.
Quality is good for the price tag and sizes get up to 46 (US size 16/UK size 18).

If you want to try out this season’s styles without leaving the comfort of your keyboard, go to the website and play with the neat “˜fitting room’ feature which is the digital equivalent of cut out clothes. Mix and match the basics on the “˜virtual you’ until you get the look you’re after and then hit the calculator icon to price up your new image.

There are Stradivarius outlets in all the major commercial centres on Tenerife.