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Tag Archive | "food"

Checking Into Tenerife’s Hotels, Jardín Tropical


It was Easter last year when Tenerife Magazine headed to the Hotel Jardín Tropical to find out what keeps 40% of guests returning year after year and what one lucky winner of our competition can expect.

Strolling past the elegant palm trees and soft, white turrets that guard the entrance to the Hotel Jardín Tropical, I pass beneath the straw thatched roof and leave the glare of sunlight to enter the portal to a dream world. Combining the principles of Feng Shui with shades of North African, Moorish and Colonial design, the architect Melvin Villaroel has created a space filled with hidden, tranquil corners where light, air and nature combine in perfect harmony.

Velvety white corridors weave below mirrored ceilings to shady courtyards at the foot of tiered minarets and bougainvillea draped terraces. Falling in gentle tiers from the hotel’s reception, brick paved terraces embedded with turquoise and ruby ceramic tiles lead past carved pine settees and over wooden foot bridges to water cascades and a sapphire pool that meanders around scented garden jungles.

The check-in welcome is accompanied by a chilled glass of cava while Joaquín explains the Alice in Wonderland principle of a ground floor which is in fact on the fifth floor and points me towards my room. Minus the aid of a White Rabbit, I follow the warren of corridors, my eyes wide at the eclectic beauty of my surroundings, until I arrive at room 457.

Don’t you just love it when you walk into your hotel room and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is “Wow”? A corridor of fitted wardrobes with wooden latticed doors leads to a cavernous room where crimson, colour washed walls lend a rich warmth to the beautifully cool interior. Centre stage, a bed the size of a small land mass is draped in the same rich, flower print drapes that cover the windows. French impressionist paintings join forces with the period furniture to give the room a classic, timeless elegance. I open the curtains and step onto the intimate balcony which peeks out through Kentia palm fronds at the giant strelitzias and towering palm trees that lend the gardens and pools the environment so richly deserving of the name Jardín Tropical.

I relax into one of the cane chairs, savouring the short time I have before my dinner reservation at the hotel’s award winning restaurant of Las Rocas. Birds are chatting noisily as they make last minute preparations for their sundown bed time, the last of the day’s sunbathers are heading back to their rooms while other couples are already dressed for the evening, strolling hand in hand towards a sunset cocktail at the Beach Club before dinner.
Three words are foremost in my mind ““ symmetry, serenity, serendipity.

The Essentials
Location: One of the first hotels to be built in Tenerife’s newest resort of Costa Adeje, the Hotel Jardín Tropical has seen many bigger and more flashy hotels springing up all around it while this tropical paradise has quietly taken root and flourished. Sited on a picturesque headland of Costa Adeje with Playa Bobo a few minutes stroll to the south and Puerto Colón to the west.

Rooms: Completely refurbished in 2010 and featuring LCD satellite TV, mini bar and safe, rooms are beautifully designed and appointed to maximise the quality of light, coupling the hotel’s trademark white with rich turquoise soft furnishings. Suites raise the floor space quota from generous to oodles and the decor to individually styled. The walk-in shower was powerful enough to double as an aqua massage and the bath was big enough to lie full length in. 26 interconnecting family rooms offer microwave, baby alarm and Playstation – essential ingredients of a family holiday.

Service: From the moment I arrived at reception, I was made to feel welcome by multi-lingual, professional staff. Service in the buffet restaurant and the bars was exceptionally good while at restaurant Las Rocas, the delightful Julio fussed over my every whim with a warm smile, professionalism and buckets of personality.

Food: Hotel Jardín Tropical has a deserved reputation for excellence in dining. The El Patio restaurant is reputed to serve the best steak tartare in Tenerife from its heavenly garden setting, while the romantic headland setting of Las Rocas is the venue for excellent gourmet cuisine. Breakfast in the Las Mimosas restaurant was a sumptuous choice of fresh fruit, continental and cooked dishes, all prepared and presented with aplomb in the stylish dining room and garden patio.

Entertainment: I followed the sound of laughter and applause to the bar lounge where families were being entertained by contemporary clowns, acrobats and breakdancers until it was time for the youngest of drooping eyelids to be carried to their beds. Night people will find themselves within sandal strolling distance of the iconic Faro Chill Art at Puerto Colón.

Overall: A fabulously stylish and chic four star hotel with five star design and aspirations where the good things in life ““ consummate service, fine dining, luxurious comfort and impeccable taste – are placed at the top of the agenda. Perfect for couples, honeymooners, families and anyone with an eye for quality and selectivity. As official host to players at golf tournaments like the Tenerife Ladies Match Play, it’s also the perfect year-round base for Tenerife golfers.

Hotel Jardín Tropical; 4 Star; Calle Gran Bretagña, Costa Adeje; (0034) 902 25 02 51; email: hotel@jardin-tropical.com

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Tenerife’s Juan Carlos Padrón is Runner Up to Spain’s Chef of the Year 2012


Last week Tenerife Magazine shone a spotlight on the quiet chef whose culinary skills have taken him to the final of the Concurso Cocinero del Año 2012 in Barcelona last week. Today we’re very proud to report that Juan Carlos Padrón was declared runner up to Chef of the Year, pipped at the post by winner VÃíctor Manuel Rodrigo from Valencia.

Juan Carlos returned to his family restaurant El Rincón de Juan Carlos in Los Gigantes having beaten four of his six fellow finalists at the cooking spectacular hosted by Martí­n Berasategui, holder of three Michelin stars and three Repsol soles.

Here at Tenerife Magazine we’re blown away by the fact that we have a home grown chef who is ranked at the very top of his profession and thanks to his skill and his passion for cooking, we have some of the finest cuisine in Spain on our doorstep at El Rincón de Juan Carlos.

¡Felicidades Juan Carlos!

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The Chef Who’s Putting Los Gigantes on the Spanish Gourmet Map


Occupying a small, unassuming corner behind the plaza in Los Gigantes is Restaurant El Rincón de Juan Carlos. From the outside you might not give it a second glance, passing it by in favour of a table in the plaza, but to walk by its door is to pass up the opportunity to sample some of Spain’s finest gastronomy. And that’s not just my opinion, that’s official.

On March 29th 2012, at the BCN Vanguardia conference centre in Barcelona, six young chefs drawn from across Spain will compete for the title of Cocinero del Año 2012 (Chef of the Year 2012) at the IV Concurso Cocinero del Año (CCA), and one of those finalists will be Juan Carlos Padrón, the chef who lends his name to the family restaurant.

Last week, Tenerife Magazine went along to Restaurant El Rincón de Juan Carlos in Los Gigantes, which is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the Canary Islands, to meet the rising young star of the Spanish gastronomic world and to find out what it takes to become a top chef.

As I entered the bijou restaurant, tucked onto the corner of Pasaje de Jacaranda, I was struck by the complete lack of pretensions in the dining room. Were it not for the menu outside and the knowledge that there was a maestro at work in the kitchen, I might have mistaken it for any other restaurant in the resort. The simple, lemon décor, white linen and original artwork (Juan Carlos” wife is the canvas artist in the family) made no attempt to detract from the reason you enter that doorway ““ to enjoy truly excellent cuisine.

How to grow a top chef
Occupying a table in the corner of the restaurant, I begin to ask Juan Carlos about his career as a chef and how he came to be such an accomplished culinary artist.

Juan Carlos tells me that cooking is in his blood and just about everyone in the Padrón family tree for the past three generations has worked in the production and preparation of food. His grandfather was a fisherman, his grandmother and mother both cooks and his father a chef. Growing up in the family restaurant, Juan Carlos” culinary training began when, as small boys, he and his brother Jonathan were given a pot with carrots and potatoes to play with.

“When I was a small boy my father placed crates for me to stand on so I could reach the sink to wash dishes,” says the ever-smiling chef. “As I got older I learned to give out the menus to customers, to take the orders and to serve the drinks. Then I started to do some flambés supervised by the chefs, and to clean the fish and serve it.”

Since leaving the family restaurant to train as a chef, Juan Carlos has worked in Michelin starred restaurants in mainland Spain and France as well as in the restaurant El Drago in Tegueste where he worked alongside Carlos Gamonal. Attending seminars in El Bulli with Feran Adria and in El Celler de Can Roca with the Roca Brothers, gastronomic influences on the young Tinerfeño chef have been at the very cutting edge of the world’s most creative cuisine.

The best chefs in Spain
Now on its fourth edition, each CCA final takes two years during which 60 professional chefs are selected from more than 1,000 applicants drawn from all parts of the Spanish mainland and islands to compete in six semi-finals. The winners of each heat then compete in the final to find the Cocinero del Año (Chef of the Year).

The chefs have to prepare a balanced menu with the correct amount of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fibre, all for under €16 cost. The three courses are judged on flavour, composition, presentation, creativity, texture and aroma as well as the professionalism of their preparation. Juan Carlos was the only chef from the Canary Islands to be selected to participate, and he went on to win his semi-final which was held in Malaga on 1st June 2011.

On 29th March 2012, at the BCN Vanguardia conference centre in Barcelona, Juan Carlos will join his fellow semi finalists; Victor Manuel Rodrigo, Juan Jiménez, Marco Varela, Sergio Bastard and Javier Estévez, in the final which will be hosted by three Michelin stars chef and President of the CCA, Martín Berasategui.

The menu
Amazed at the €16 cost tag as the criteria for the menu in such a prestigious competition, I ask Juan Carlos what his winning Malaga menu consisted of.

“The starter was Steamed Parmesan Ravioli in a Lentil Reduction with Onion Petals; main course was Fillet of Parrot Fish with its Livers in a Seafood Sauce and for dessert, Warm Apple Terrine with Cinnamon Ice Cream.”

Since the competition, the parmesan raviolis have made it onto the menu at El Rincón de Juan Carlos and I can vouch first hand for their sublime flavour and texture ““ they’re like fairy pillows of soft, parmesan down that melt on the tongue. The ‘classic’ menu at El Rincón de Juan Carlos features dishes which combine taste and texture in a way that doesn’t just delight the palate, but that also provoke experiences and feelings. For those who appreciate top notch gourmet food, El Rincón offers a tasting menu which affords diners the chance to sample some of Juan Carlos” most creative dishes.

As we chatted, the tables of the restaurant began to fill and I asked Juan Carlos what the menu specialities are at Rincón de Juan Carlos.
“We don’t have specialities,” he tells me earnestly. “Every dish we do is a speciality and the menu changes frequently to incorporate seasonal ingredients.”

It’s a family affair
Now in its ninth year of operation, El Rincón de Juan Carlos has continued the Padrón tradition of being a truly family affair with Juan Carlos and his brother Jonathan in the kitchen and their wives front of house, quietly and efficiently waiting on tables, describing the dishes for customers and providing wine and menu recommendations with a wealth of knowledge and winning smiles. Their father now sadly passed away, the boys” mum still works alongside her sons in the kitchen.

One of the most down-to-earth and unassuming people I have met in a long time, chatting to Jaun Carlos it’s difficult to imagine the world he inhabits when he competes; a world filled with Michelin stars and Repsol soles where he rubs shoulders with the likes of Martín Berasategui. To me, he and his brother are like Tenerife’s answer to the Roca Brothers whose El Celler de Can Roca is officially runner up to the best restaurant in the world. Of all the famous chefs he has trained and studied with, I ask Juan Carlos which he admires the most.
“My father,” he says, unhesitatingly. “The best chef in the world was my father. When I cook in the final of the Concurso Cocinero del Año, it will be for him.”

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Walk this Way, Santiago del Teide


As we emerge from the stifling heat of late summer and the first rains of the autumn feed the earth, turning brown to green and filling the air with the promise of new growth, it’s the perfect time to head into the hills of Santiago del Teide and visit the delightful Erjos Pools.

Why this way?
There are very few places on Tenerife where you’ll find pools or lakes that aren’t surrounded by sun loungers or walls. The disused quarry workings of Erjos are one of the prettiest. When the heavy digging machinery moved out, the wildlife moved in and now the pools are a haven for butterflies, dragonflies, ducks and rabbits ““ a veritable Watership Down, but without the sad bits.

It’s a part of Tenerife that’s favoured by walkers and it’s a million miles from the beaches of the south coast. Up here, the air is scented with pine, the landscapes are rolling green hills and dramatic volcanic cones and the nearby village of Santiago del Teide is to my mind, one of the prettiest on Tenerife. For the bonus ball, Bar Fleytas provides a great place to head for a beer and some tapas when you’ve finished. The inside bar is great for escaping the cool clouds and if it’s hot, the outside tables are perfect for perusing the, err, car park. Still, there’s always plenty to nosey at.

You don’t have to be a hiking pole-carrying, rucksack sporting, boot-clad rambler to enjoy this part of Tenerife. The pools are easily accessible from the main Icod de los Vinos to Santiago del Teide road and are great fun to explore just on their own and there are more than enough places to buy ice cream and fun things to do in Santiago del Teide to please the whole family.

Hike this way*
A path drops down from a dangerous bend on the main road, just north of Bar Fleytas on the Icod road, and zig-zags down to the pools. From there, any number of trails criss-cross their way, connecting smaller pools to wannabe lakes and providing reed cover for mallards and dragonflies. Just keep hold of the smallest members of the family lest they mistake bulrushes for solid ground and find themselves doing a Moses impersonation without the aid of a basket.

When the novelty of chasing rabbits and crickets wears thin, a path leads up through heather and willow trees to the ridge that overlooks Valle de Arriba and Santiago del Teide. At this point, any breath you had spare from the climb will be taken away as the gorgeous valleys unfold at your feet with the massive bulk of Mount Teide and Pico Viejo blotting out the horizon.

From here, a Red Riding Hood trail takes you through dense forest which still bears the blackened scars of the 2007 fires, along the north west ridge overlooking Los Silos before bringing you full circle to emerge once more above the Erjos Pools. Whistling the theme tune from the Archers, you descend through the green and pleasant farming land and arrive back at the pools.

Stroll this way
In the centre of Santiago del Teide is a small footbridge which looks as if it leads nowhere. In fact, it leads to a small shrine hidden in the hillside high above the village. The path is called the Camino de la Virgin de Lourdes and is marked by the white crosses (stations of the cross) that the pilgrims follow to reach the shrine. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with lovely views back over the valley and the village, and a small oasis of honeysuckle, roses and bougainvillea in which to sit and ponder the beauty of your surroundings.

Alternatively, take a stroll through the neighbouring village of Valle de Arriba where you’ll find rural Tenerife in all its simplistic glory. Agriculture is the mainstay of the village, much of it still by back-breaking bending and weeding by hand, and the fresh water spring is the centre of village life where bottles are filled and gossip exchanged. Feel free to join the queue for the free water, it tastes much better than the bottled variety and is rich in minerals.

My way

Peaks: Check out the lovely Casa Del Patio in Santiago del Teide for great food, souvenirs and a menagerie of farmyard animals or enjoy a eucalyptus-scented picnic at the zona recreativa opposite, If you’ve forgotten to pack the egg butties, the kiosk does a mean burger.

Troughs: If you’re unlucky and the bruma (low cloud) rolls in, the temperatures can plunge to uncomfortable levels and scenery can disappear.

My view: 4 Stars ““ This is one of my enduring favourite walks in an unspoilt area of Tenerife and is easily accessible by everyone. With the lovely Santiago del Teide next door, it makes for a great family day out.

*Detailed directions for this walk are available in PDF format as part of the ‘Into the Valley’ Island Walks.

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Tenerife Restaurant Reviews on Tripadvisor


It’s now widely accepted that most UK residents researching a holiday abroad will use predominantly online sources before they book and for many, Tripadvisor is their first port of call.

But checking out Tripadvisor for a restaurant recommendation recently, it was surprising to discover which restaurants were ranked as the top three in each of Tenerife’s most popular resorts. Many of those currently holding these valuable positions were strangers to TenerifeMagazine.com, and indeed to the Tenerife Tripadvisor forum on which restaurant recommendations are frequently requested and given. With so much at stake, whose opinion is it that we’re trusting and how can we be sure that they would know a good restaurant if it walked up to them and introduced itself? It got us thinking…when it comes to restaurant reviews, does Tripadvisor really know its onions?

Success sells
One of the most interesting things that you first notice with the reviews is the number of people whose opening line is something along the lines of “we chose this restaurant because so many people on Tripadvisor had recommended it”. Having a good ranking on this holiday watchdog site is clearly worth its weight in gold and once you’ve managed to get into those ranks, success naturally breeds success.

Rating criteria
Anyone reviewing a restaurant on Tripadvisor is asked to give a rating of one to five stars, one being terrible and five being excellent, in the categories service, food, value, atmosphere. Interestingly, the only star ratings that show up on reviews are the overall average and the Service and Value, not the food, which is the main thing you would have thought most people would want to see.

Who do you trust?
Tripadvisor has come in for a lot of stick about the integrity of its reviews and rightly so, but to be fair to Tripadvisor, it’s a very difficult system to police effectively. Scrolling through the reviews given to restaurants that ranked at numbers one, two and three in the resorts of Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Américas, Los Cristianos and Puerto de la Cruz, a pattern began to emerge.

In the restaurants who’s presence in these lofty positions was a surprise, of those reviewers who had given the restaurant straight five star ratings, the vast majority had only given this one review or at best, this plus one other. In one case, out of 56 reviews giving five stars, 39 had only ever reviewed this restaurant and a further seven had only reviewed one other as well. In another case, a staggering 20 out of 27 five stars came from mainly first time reviewers, and in a third six out of nine.

What was equally interesting was that the majority of those making their first and only review and awarding five stars were in the last three months.

Convenience versus quality
It was intriguing to discover that the currently top ranked restaurant in Costa Adeje is hidden away, a fair walking distance from the coast and with 65 reviews to its name, which makes you wonder how on earth so many people had managed to find it in the first place. It seems that the restaurant is in fact located within a timeshare apartment complex and so is convenient for lots of holidaymakers for whom the walk anywhere else would be lengthy. And why go anywhere else when you’ve got a very good restaurant on the door step? There’s no reason to doubt that the restaurant has good food, but does it warrant best restaurant in Costa Adeje? One reviewer gave it five straight stars having only had two takeaway pizzas from it.

The same pattern emerged for the top ranked restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz, numbers one and two of which are not even in the town. The number one ranking, although clearly a very good restaurant, is in La Paz, in easy distance of Casablanca Apartments for all those who don’t want to do the climb back from town but way off the radar of anyone staying near the coast. The second ranked restaurant is in Punta Brava ““ a considerable trek from Puerto and located directly outside Loro Parque. Interestingly, the seven reviews for this restaurant all gave straight fives, were all first time and only reviews and six of them had been posted in the last eight weeks.

Menus
With one or two notable exceptions such as Coeur de Filet and Méson Castellano, the first twelve ranked restaurants across our four chosen resorts had menus that predictably catered to a British palate. Steaks featured heavily in the reviews with pizza and pasta hot on their heels and Indian and Chinese taking two out of the twelve spots.

Even where restaurants with more varied and creative cuisine crept into the top rankings, some reviewers marked them down because the choices didn’t suit them. At Méson Castellano reviewers who don’t speak Spanish struggled with the ‘no menu’ concept and had a less enjoyable dining experience whilst a reviewer at Coeur de Filet complained that when she asked the waiter if she could have chicken in her spaghetti carbonara, he tutted ““ personally I think he showed remarkable restraint.

The best restaurants in Tenerife ““ Tripadvisor style.
So here, with our ‘look before you book’ warning that all that glistens is not gold, are the current top ranked restaurants in Tenerife’s major resort areas according to Tripadvisor. Are there any surprises there for you?

Costa Adeje
1st Restaurante Sebastián
2nd Coeur de Filet
3rd Torviscas Tandoori

Playa de Las Américas
1st First Love
2nd Méson Castellano
3rd La Martina

Los Cristianos
1st Chill Out
2nd Overseas
3rd Las Velas

Puerto de la Cruz
1st Tucan
2nd Tambo
3rd El Regulo

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Walk this Way, Puertito de Güí­mar


Now summer is officially here and before the thermometer loses its head entirely, it’s the ideal time to explore Tenerife’s east coast. Around Puertitio de Güímar the default setting is sun and there’s very little shade to be found, but the near-constant breeze keeps everything just the right temperature for exploring the coastline.

Why this way?
For many people, the east coast of Tenerife is just a blur seen from the window as they travel along the TF1. But leave the motorway and head down towards the coast, or up into the hills and you discover a very different side to Tenerife. Less conducive to taming than its southern and western counterparts, the east has escaped over-development and there are many parts where nature still holds sway with wide, open spaces, where you can walk for hours and not meet another soul.

Hot, dry and windy, the central eastern coastline is largely what is known as malpaís (badlands); arid scrub land with desert-like conditions. To look at it from a distance, you might be forgiven for thinking that nothing grows or lives here but in fact, the malpaís is home to 150 species of flora which support 100 types of insect and 60 types of butterfly, not to mention the thriving communities of lizards that accompany your every step.

But the best reason of all for choosing Puertito de Güímar as a walking base is because of its great seafood and tapas restaurants and the little port with its stylish boardwalk where swimmers and sunbathers frolic. There can be few better places to end a hike with a swim, lunch and a beer, not necessarily in that order.

Hike this way
The clearly marked path begins just outside Puertito de Güímar and follows the coastline past a shanty town of former military installations which have been extended haphazardly using a spirit level that was clearly far more spirit than level. It should look like an eyesore, and indeed it largely does, except that there’s something compellingly ideal about its simplicity and I could easily pull up a deckchair and spend the day just idling here.

The path winds its way through clumps of pink marine thyme and bright green sea lettuce until it reaches Montaña de la Mar which should be awarded a prize for self delusion as, rising to no more than a paltry 27 metres above sea level, it barely deserves the title hillock, let alone mountain.

As the trail reaches the base of Montaña Grande the vegetation morphs into tall grasses and sweet tabaiba and everywhere, lizards scurry through the undergrowth, foraging for food. From the mountain a path leads back, zigzagging round islands filled with the fat spikes of cardón, to Puertito and that promise of a cold beer and lunch.

Stroll this way
The great thing about walking around the malpaís of Güímar is that you can set out from Puertito and just stroll along the coastal path, spotting nice pieces of driftwood and all sorts of detritus washed up by the tide.

Beyond the turn off for Montaña Grande the path continues to the tiny coastal settlement of Socorro with its beach houses and its two chapels ““ one above, one below ““ and its little beach of Chimisay where the miraculous discovery of the Patron Saint of the Canary Islands, the Virgin of Candelaria took place. For such a momentous event, you might expect there to be an ostentatious monument or two but in fact, there is just a simple cross set in a block of concrete. The ostentation is preserved for the Candelaria Basilica.

My way
Peaks: The aces in Güímar’s pack for me are the wide open emptiness of the plains and the lovely El Puertito as the start and end points. Keep an eye out for plovers and turnstones fishing amongst the rock pools.

Troughs: The scenery could get a bit monotonous if you were to walk here every day and the lack of trees and natural shade mean it’s best to avoid high summer days when the breeze drops.

My view: 2.5 Stars ““ This is an easy, pleasant walk which offers a landscape which is more akin to the Eastern Canary Islands. I particularly like the abundance of grasses around Montaña Grande, particularly in spring and early summer.

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Resort Report, Puerto de la Cruz


Puerto de la Cruz Overview
Banana plants, palm trees, laurel, bougainvillea, frangipani, hibiscus… like Alice in Wonderland after a swig of the ‘Drink Me’ bottle, they all grow at an alarming rate in Puerto de la Cruz giving it a lush, tropical identity that separates it from the south of Tenerife by more than just distance.

Resolutely Canarian in character, Puerto de la Cruz was Tenerife’s first tourist resort and original destination of those wealthy and adventurous enough to visit the Canary Islands back in the 1960s and early 1970s. But when the south airport opened its runway and package holidays came within the financial reach of a vast untapped market, millions of Brits headed south for the holy grail of a guaranteed suntan.

On its little promontory at the foot of the La Orotava Valley, Puerto gets the best of the north’s sunshine and just enough rainfall to keep it as green as the bananas that surround it.

Beaches in Puerto de la Cruz
The town’s main beach of Playa Jardín is a beautiful, black sand beach backed by extensive landscaped gardens designed by César Manrique. The beach shelves steeply into the Atlantic rollers which for much of the year make swimming an extreme sport and a no-no for everyone but the jackass addicts. To compensate, the swimming and sunbathing paradise of Lago Martiánez has tropical gardens, oodles of sunbathing terraces, restaurants, kiosks, seven swimming pools and a vast lake beneath which the town’s Casino is located.

Where to Stay in Puerto de la Cruz
Pamper Yourself ““ Hotel Botanico (5*). Everything about this hotel says “quality, luxury and attention to detail’. From its three a la carte restaurants to its Oriental Spa, the experience is unbridled indulgence of the mind, body and senses.
(0034) 922 381 400; www.hotelbotanico.com; double room with breakfast from €190

In the Thick of it ““ Hotel Monopol (3*). One of Tenerife’s oldest hotels situated in the heart of the town whose lobby is a balconied Canarian courtyard which is simply stunning. Try for one of the 15 rooms overlooking Plaza de la Iglesia.
(0034) 922 384 611; www.monopoltf.com; double room with balcony from €63 per night



Restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz

Special OccasionMil Sabores (C/Cruz Verde, 5; (+34) 922 36 81 72, closed Wednesday): A foodie’s nirvana where the menu is so mouth-watering it could provoke a Meg Ryan, “˜When Harry met Sally’ reaction.
Going Local – Always packed with locals, Tasquita de Min (Mesquinez; (+34) 922 37 18 34; closed Monday) beside the harbour, serves fish and seafood dishes as fresh as an Italian waiter. Their vieja (parrot fish) has to be one of the tastiest fish you’ll ever sink your teeth into.
Family Friendly - El Pomodoro (Punta del Viento; (+34) 922 38 13 28) overlooking Atlantic rollers which crash below the restaurant’s open arches, has a menu which will appeal to all the family – pastas, steaks and pizzas.
Meat Free – Barcelona and Madrid comes to Puerto in the guise of El Maná (C/Mesquinez, 23 (+34) 922 36 85 23; closed Monday) a modern, organic restaurant. Opt for the degustación and discover that mana doesn’t really come from heaven but from the restaurant’s chef/owner.

Nightlife in Puerto de la Cruz
For night owls and savvy visitors, bar hopping in Puerto begins after midnight. Get in the mood with some cool cocktails at Elements in the Ranilla District or Colour Café overlooking Plaza Charco until the midnight hour has well and truly bid adieu. Then head to Limbo Bar on Calle Blanco to take in the night air and busy atmosphere before moving over the road to the uber cool Blanco Bar for some excellent live bands. Just when you think you might hear the sandman calling, notch up the adrenalin to Cuban volume at loud and sultry Azucar where you won’t hear his whispers until way into the early hours.

The Puerto de la Cruz WOW factor
There’s a reason why visitors have been coming to Loro Parque in their droves for so many years. From acrobatic dolphins and performing sea lions to parrots on bicycles and penguins on ice, the breathtaking moments arrive thick and fast.

Who would like Puerto de la Cruz?
This is the resort for anyone who wants to experience Canarian culture, cuisine and hospitality in a stunningly beautiful setting. Popular with more mature British and German visitors during the winter months and buzzing with Spanish mainlanders during the summer.

Star Ratings
Accommodation: 3 stars ““ Puerto simply doesn’t match the accommodation choices of Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje.
Restaurants: 5 stars ““ Around 200, including a few truly excellent, restaurants to choose from with predominantly Canarian menus but a wide choice of International cuisine.
Beaches: 4 stars ““ Black sand beauty and the iconic Lago Martiánez provide perfect settings without regimented sun loungers.
Nightlife: 4 stars ““ If you’re looking for tribute bands, cabaret and karaoke, you’ll be disappointed.

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Tenerife Resort Report, Los Cristianos


Los Cristianos Overview
Located a mere fifteen minute’s drive from Tenerife’s south airport, there’s hardly time for visitors to ditch the woolly jumpers for skimpy T-shirts before arriving in the centre of Los Cristianos. Some cruel souls have dubbed the resort Los Crustianos because it’s favoured by mature northern European visitors, but that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the town’s personality.

Just over fifty years ago Los Cristianos was still a small fishing village, then a Swedish broadcaster suffering from MS found its climate had curative effects, shared his discovery with the world and the rest, as they say, is history. Nowadays the resort has grown into a thriving holiday destination. Although it has been outgrown by it’s newer neighbours, Los Cristianos has one quality that Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje don’t; it’s still a Canarian town at heart.

Beaches in Los Cristianos
Many consider the expanse of golden sand, aka Playa de las Vistas, as one of Tenerife’s best beaches. It has all the usual facilities (sunbeds, parasols, toilets, showers etc) and also boasts an area for people with mobility problems. Playa de Los Cristianos in the centre of town is smaller but good for watching the boats coming in…and going out again. For more natural surroundings Playa Callao at the southern end of the resort is ideal for letting it all hang out.

Where to Stay in Los Cristianos
In the Thick of it ““ Hotel Reverón Plaza (4*) Not only central but has bags of individualistic style, elegance and charm. This is a hotel with character that harks back to the golden age of travel.
(0034) 922 757120; www.hotelesreveron.com; double room and breakfast from €100 per night)
The Quiet Life ““ Arona Gran Hotel (4*). Set at the southern end of the bay, the Arona Gran offers luxury, style and tranquillity from the moment you step into its cavernous lobby dripping with foliage.
(0034) 922 750 678; www.springhoteles.com; double room with breakfast from €172 per night)



Restaurants in Los Cristianos
Special Occasion – The eponymous Alain of Le Bistrot D’Alain (C/Del Valle Menéndez, 23; (+34) 922 752 336; closed Monday) performs magic as a culinary cupid, combining herbs and sauces with unlikely partners and creating matches (quail and pear, chicken liver with honey and apple) made in gourmet heaven; A delicious slice of France in Tenerife.
Going Local – Mix it with the locals at La Tasca de Mi Abuelo (CC San Marino; (+34) 922 794 466; closed Monday). A wonderful tapas menu includes mushrooms wrapped in Serrano ham. You might even get treated to some live music courtesy of the owner”¦if he’s had enough to drink.
Fish ““ Simply El Cine; somewhat of an institution and basic, cheap and fresh. (C/Juan Bariajo, 8; (+34) 609 10 77 58; closed Monday)
Meat Free – The Olive Garden (El Carmel, 5 (+34) 922 791 115) has an international range of choices whether you’re vegetarian or not. The choice on the veggie menu rivals that of their meat and seafood dishes. Now that’s rare and well done at the same time.



Nightlife in Los Cristianos

Heard that nightlife in Los Cristianos shuts down at midnight? Wrong. Whilst the bars aimed at visitors do tend to wind down around midnight, those at San Telmo aimed at the resident Spanish population don’t liven up till then. Check out the area at 2am on a Sunday morning and you’ll see what we mean. Our Bar Hopping in Los Cristianos article has some suggestions for bars with live entertainment whilst lively, cosy bars like Grouchos and Mestizo and a few others are ideal gin joints for a more bohemian scene.

The Los Cristianos WOW factor
With a bustling port on the doorstep, this is the place for sea going trips and to take advantage of the opportunity to explore La Gomera, La Palma & El Hierro. Los Cristianos also has one of the best carnivals in the south of Tenerife (Feb/March) ““ a good time for cross dressers and party animals to visit.

Who’d Like Los Cristianos?

Despite having a relatively youthful Canarian scene, Los Cristianos isn’t really the best choice for younger visitors or families. The tranquil pace of life here suits people looking for a resort that has plenty of bars and restaurants but isn’t too lively. With it’s aim to be a barrier free paradise, it’s also the best resort on Tenerife for visitors with mobility problems.



Tenerife Magazine’s 5 Star Ratings

Accommodation: 3 stars – Not as many quality hotels as you might expect in a resort of this size.
Restaurants: 4 stars ““ A good balance between international cuisine and Canarian.
Beaches: 5 Stars – You’ve got stunning Las Vistas and the town beach bustling for those who like their beaches a bit manicured and Playa Callao for those who don’t.
Nightlife: 3 stars – There are a good choice of diverse bars, but they are spread all over the place.

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Top Ten-erife Tapas


There are many versions of how tapas came to be in existence, from the humble need to keep flies off wine glasses by placing a slice of cheese or ham over as a lid (tapa), to the much more complex but highly plausible reason for its emergence as a result of law evasion in 16th and 17th century Seville.
But whatever its origins, in regions where the climate is often not conducive to large plates groaning with food, the pre or post-siesta enjoyment of a tipple with tapas has now become a Spanish institution.

Originally, every bar owner developed a single speciality tapa which gave rise to the tapeo (tapas bar crawl) which today has found new life under the guise of tapas routes. But today most bars and restaurants have a whole menu of tapas, entrantes or raciones to tickle the taste buds.
Some tapas dishes such as ensaladilla (Russian salad) and boquerónes (pickled anchovies) are fairly universally evident on menus throughout Spain, but every region has its own specialities based on local ingredients and the Canary Islands are no exception. Travel to Gran Canaria, La Palma or La Gomera and you’ll find one or two dishes that you won’t see on Tenerife menus and vice versa.

These are the most popular Tenerife tapas:

1. Papas arrugadas con mojo ““ not just a tapas dish, but the preferred potato accompaniment to just about any Tinerfeño meal, the little salty, wrinkled potatoes with their spicy red and green sauces are as popular as sunshine.

2. Jamón Serrano ““ freshly sliced thin strips of cured ham are a constant crowd pleaser, particularly if accompanied by Manchego cheese. If you really want the best, push the tapas boat out and order Jamón Ibérico from the black-hooved, pata negra pig ““ guaranteed to send the taste buds into overdrive.

3. Chopitos ““ tiny, battered and deep fried squid which are compulsively more-ish. Even the littlest of fingers will help themselves to this tasty snack, as long as no-one mentions the word “squid”.
4. Churros de Pescado – another fishy speciality these goujons of cod are coated in a herby batter and fried to golden deliciousness. Fish fingers without the processing.
5. Queso a la Plancha ““ a thick slab of semi-cured goat’s cheese, lightly grilled so it just begins to melt and then drizzled in red and green mojos (sauces) and palm honey. I”M afraid diet sheets have no place on a tapas table.
6. Gambas al Ajillo ““ fat, juicy prawns sizzling in a clay pot of oil, chillies and garlic slices and the perfect accompaniment to dry, crusty bread and alioli (garlic mayonnaise). Definitely not one for a pre-first date lunch.
7. Tortilla Española ““ a staple of the tapas table and a good appetite queller, my preference is for a thin layer of alioli atop. Those with healthier appetites than mine order their tortilla in a bocadillo ““ the Spanish equivalent of a chip butty I guess.
8. Pimientos de Padrón ““ as much a game of chance as a tasty snack, one in ten of these rock salted peppers will blow your head off, the rest will just leave you licking your fingers.
9. Croquetas ““ fat little, sausage-shaped portions of fish or chicken in mashed potato and coated in breadcrumbs. Another ‘safe’ option for the youngest tapas triers at the table, provided the grown-ups don’t snaffle them all first.
10. Empanadas ““ little, Cornish pasty-shaped pies usually filled with a tuna, onion and pepper mix and shallow fried. Bite-sized, pastry delights that will have fellow diners pointing a finger and asking “who ate all the pies?”

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Checking Into Hotel Barceló Santiago


It’s the week before Christmas, traditionally a very quiet period for visitors on Tenerife and in tourism terms, the lull before the storm.
As soon as the turkey leftovers are covered in foil and popped into the fridge for later snacking, keyboards will be hotting up with holiday searches and the beaches and resorts of Tenerife will throng with northern Europeans thawing the ice from their toes.

So before the madness begins, Tenerife Magazine headed to the sunny south west coast to check out what the stylish Hotel Barceló Santiago has to offer.

This is a hotel that knows how to make its guests feel welcome from the moment they arrive. At reception, while the smiling Nancy goes through the details of my booking and the hotel’s facilities at my disposal, a chilled glass of cava appears before me bringing a smile to my lips and putting me firmly into holiday mode.

Exiting the lift on the eighth floor with cava bubbles in my blood stream and a spring in my step, I open the door of Suite 819 to step into one of the coolest hotel rooms I have ever stayed in.
Ice blue opaque glass screens, slate grey tiled effect walls and a bed so large I’ll need GPS to find the pillows lie before me – my own private paradise. And just when I think the WOW factor can’t possibly get any better, I open the curtains to discover ceiling to floor length windows and endless terrace beyond which the cliffs of Los Gigantes tower above the ocean. The white sails of dolphin watching ships glide below like toys on a pond. Pulling back the curtains on the other side of the room, the island of La Gomera is shimmering on the horizon and below me, the infinity pools of the hotel are whispering my name.

Dragging myself away from the awesome views afforded by my room, I wander out into the warm sunshine to explore the gardens. Ignoring the impulse to sink into one of the cane chairs beneath the thatched roof of the pool bar and order another glass of cava, I step over the footbridge, past the Jacuzzi where suntanned bodies are being massaged by water jets, and down the steps by the kiddies” club to the sports courts.

A group of guests are enjoying a spot of rifle practice, supervised and tutored by two of the animation team. I linger awhile until one of the guests who is getting on in years and has a very distinctive arm shake steps up to the mark ““ no point in taking unnecessary risks.
In the show bar there’s a stretching class in progress and the occasional grunt rises above the chill out music as muscles are put through their paces. I continue downwards, drawn by the aroma of incense until I arrive alongside the gym which is packed to the gunwales with state of the art equipment and completely devoid of guests, all of whom I suspect are being tenderised in the scented paradise of the hotel spa alongside.

Back at pool level I place my towel on the comfy sunbed below a straw parasol and slip into the infinity pool where I float, watching the Los Gigantes ‘giants” in the heat haze and making a mental note to check the rules of this month’s free holiday at the Barceló Santiago. Perhaps members of TM staff aren’t excluded from winning?
Drat!

Hotel Hotel Barceló Santiago, The Essentials

Location: On a small headland in the resort of Puerto Santiago overlooking the cliffs of Los Gigantes on one side and the neighbouring island of La Gomera on the other. Throw into the mix the fact that the south west coast gets more sunshine hours than any other and you arrive at the conclusion that this hotel probably has the best location on Tenerife.

Rooms: Rooms are stylish and comfortable in contemporary design with lots of floor space, terrace and flat screen TV with satellite. Décor is ice blues with the palest lemon and maximum use is made of the natural light to provide a calm and relaxing environment. It’s well worth paying a bit extra to take advantage of those spectacular sea views. Superior rooms and suites have even more floor space and tea and coffee making facilities.

Service: In my experience staff can make or break the quality of a hotel. In the case of the Barceló Santiago the staff are exceptionally good. Wherever I went in the hotel I found multi-lingual, professional and friendly staff who had an excellent rapport with all the guests and who appeared to be enviably happy in their work.

Food: I arrived at the Barceló after a late breakfast and intended only having a salad but faced with the delicious selection on offer in the buffet, I ended up with a lip-smacking three course lunch. In the evening I chose to eat at the hotel’s a la carte Sabor Español restaurant where I was treated to excellent food and wine served with savoir faire by the delightful Elvi.

Entertainment: The evening kicked off with the mini-club during which the animation team kept the youngest guests entertained until bedtime. When the clowns exited stage left, the dancers entered stage right and kept the adults foot tapping and applauding for the rest of the evening. For a change of scene a mini stroll takes guests to Route 66 where they can get their kicks from resident bands Old Dogs New Tricks and Los Tres Hombres.

Overall: A stylish and comfortable modern hotel in a stunning location where families, couples and singles can enjoy the best of Tenerife’s sunshine, sunsets over La Gomera and excellent service from friendly and professional staff.
I shall certainly be making a return visit.

Hotel Barceló Santiago; 4 Star; La Hondura 8, Puerto Santiago, Santiago Del Teide; www.barcelosantiago.com ; (0034) 922 86 09 12; email santiago@barcelo.com

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