There are so many hotels and apartment complexes to choose between in the Canaries that your head begins spinning when you sit down to choose between one white-washed hotel, sitting beside a turquoise pool, and the next.
The temptation tends to be to look at the bottom line, especially in these credit-crunch times, and play it safe.
“After all”, you tell yourself, “they’ve all got swimming pools and restaurants and they’ve all been well checked-out by the holiday companies”.
Well, yes, they have – but the old rule generally applies (pay a little extra and you get a lot more). And there’s one thing a lot more valuable than money, however you earn it – your precious, irreplaceable, time.
Most of us only get two weeks, at most, away in the summer and, if we’re very lucky, a week in winter.
Very few people get on a plane at the end of their holidays saying to themselves that they could have saved a few Euro by going down-market. Many more bless themselves for pushing the boat out just a little bit further.
When you do discover a hotel that gives you a holiday with a quality experience and great food and drink – it’s worth letting others know. Such a place is the Costa Meloneras Gran Canaria Hotel close to the fabulous sand dunes of Maspalomas.
It’s set in its own grounds with palm trees everywhere (absolutely essential most of the year as the sun can be too hot to lie out in all day) and never seems crowded, however many guests are staying.
About 20 minutes by taxi from the airport, it also has one of the top spas on the island as well as five swimming pools (including a “meandering” and infinity pools) so you can idle away a week doing absolutely nothing but chilling out.
Breakfast is a delight, whether you are on a strict calorie-controlled diet or feel like splashing out with a glass of champagne to start your day, but personally, for me, it was at the evening carvery when the hotel came into its own.
First of all, there were rows and rows of fresh fruit to start off with followed by several hot dishes of either meat or fish (throw in a little shell fish also, cooked to your specification).
The choice varied from suckling pig, roast duck, roast beef, leg of lamb, pork chops, steaks, lamb chops, curries, stews (including Irish of course) and just every type of fish, salmon, cod, hake and local specialties.
Then, if you can manage it, there are magnificent deserts laid out in ranks. Forget the calories and get stuck in, is my advice. After all you have paid for it!
Local wine you do have to pay for, but at prices which will have you laughing.
A good sign is that many guests do choose to go half-board – which speaks for itself. If the grub isn’t good at a place like this, word travels quick and people stay on a bed-and-breakfast basis only.
If all of this has left you feeling you should work some of it off, or if you tire of a life on the sun loungers and in the pools, take a break in the hotel’s extensive and luxurious spa and ‘Corralium’ (maybe a Roman term for hedonism and decadence?)
The experience includes a range of relaxing and invigorating African saunas, Turkish steam rooms, igloo ice rooms, floating pools and relaxation rooms situated in the pleasant calm of the hotel’s basement.
The Spa also has its own private, secluded pool area where users can wake themselves up with a dash through the cold pool before enjoying the hot pool or simply lie at pool side.
A wide assortment of massage and manicure treatments are also available, the deep tissue massage is especially recommended but choices also run to the more genteel Swedish massage or simply a short back and neck massage.
If you’re after a more energetic break, or want to keep up your fitness plan, you can also use the Gymnasium which includes all the usual weights and cardio machines. Instructors are also available.
As a hotel guest the Spa costs u45 for a full day, u35 for a four hour session, u15 for a limited range of spa activities and u7 for a gym session only.
Just outside the hotel is a promenade for walkers and joggers and lots of top quality restaurants (which are suffering a little because of the increasing popularity of the “all inclusive” option).
Prices here are great value as they try to drag you away from the hotel for lunch or that evening meal you might decide to swap for lunch.
On the beach, a few minutes away, stands a solitary Irish bar called (very descriptively) “Paddy’s On The Beach” where the man of the house is from Fermanagh. It mightn’t be five-star but the craic certainly is.
For five Euro, you can have a pint of beer, a juice and a sandwich. Then walk out of the door across the sand and into the sea.
Gerry O’Hare travelled to Las Meloneras at Maspalomas on Gran Canaria with Budget Travel.
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