With the temperature in January between 22 and 27 degrees most days, there are few places better to escape the Irish winter than the Canary Islands. So my teenage daughter, Nicole, and I set off with a bottle of sun cream in hand for a girlie retreat to Gran Canaria. This island is the third largest in the archipelago and third most populated island in Spain. Gran Canaria also has a legacy with the English and most people will have heard of Playa del Ingles which is nestled in Las Dunas de Maspalomas. It was the English that brought golf to the island making it home to seven golf courses and the first golf club in Spain.
We stayed close by at the swanky manicured resort of Meloneras in the Hotel Riu Gran Canaria. The stylish boutiques and clothes shops were tempting to say the least – especially when travelling with someone who loves to shop!
But the prices in the cafés and restaurants were good and quality assured. We choose most evenings to dine in the hotel as we had opted for the all-inclusive option but with four smashing restaurants we were spoilt for choice. The Asian restaurants offered Sushi, Singapore Noodles the usual best of Chinese dishes and included in our package were all drinks and daytime dining in any of the restaurants.
With four different room types to choose from we splashed out on an upgrade and a cleverly designed suite overlooking the Atlantic with its own pool cornered off privately from our neighbours on each side who also had their own pool.
The Riu Hotel Group (www.riu.com) have been growing since their first hotel in 1953 was established in Majorca. Now they are now dotted across the Caribbean and Europe, catering for every age group. At the Riu Gran Canaria they offer special adult only areas and cool places to watch the sunset – right next to the infinity pool which also is a childfree zone.
Little ones aren’t neglected however and we watched happy small ones heading off each day to the kids club. The children’s pool area is equipped with slides and lots of fun and my daughter would have been happy to join in a decade ago. The hotel is perfect for our girls trip too, with its own spa and massage is bookable from reception.
The beauty of all inclusive it meant we didn’t have to budget that hard and to be honest we spent very little outside the hotel because everything is at hand from beach towels to yoga classes in the morning. From years of travel I’ve discovered paying a little bit extra at the beginning of your holiday can save you hundreds of Euros on the overall cost.
We took one day out from sunbathing to explore the island and headed for the capital, Las Palmas, where the old town smacks of the style and colours of Havana. We met up with tour guide Maria, who informed us that the island may be part of Europe but it has Caribbean soul. The canines which gave the archipelago its name stand majestically in bronze outside the cathedral in the centre of the town. We wound our way down to the busy port where we found a delicious place to eat at the Mercado del Puerto with delicious squid tapas and local Black Boar on the menu.
A few minutes outside the city at Bodega San Juan, carefully tended vines have been in the same family for five generations. We learned how the grapes have been nurtured in the rich lava infused soil and enjoyed a tasting with some local cheese.
Some of the machinery is over 100 years old and with donkeys and mini horses the vineyard is good for a family visit. Full of history and stories a delightful ninety minute tour costs only €10 for adults and €4 for children. www.bodega-sanjuan.com
The indigenous people of Gran Canaria originally housed themselves in caves – nestled into terraces through the centre of the island many are still lived in today. By nature of the buildings being warm in winter and cool in summer they have maintained popularity as an eco-friendly way to live with the natural environment.
Millions of years ago Gran Canaria was a volcano. The crater in the centre of the island is now a remarkable tourist attraction for those who like to hike and definitely I’ll be returning to explore in more detail. For more see www.grancanaria.com
The weekends offer any array of traditional markets and each day was filled with micro shopping. Every morning we took a stroll to Faro lighthouse and the beautiful dunes which was a great way to get in our steps and make up for the huge portions served at dinner. Gran Canaria was the perfect destination for a mother and daughter sun holiday and might even become a habit worth forming every January.
Happy Travels Michelle
Hotel RIU Gran Canaria – All Inclusive
01 March – 08 March 2022
Includes return flights, transfers, checked bags, 7 night’s accommodation on all-inclusive basis & all airport taxes
€1199 per person