Words by Elisabeth Rushton
Located just off the northeast coast of Africa, Tenerife is the largest island in the Canary archipelago. Its most striking feature is the volcanic, snow-capped Pico del Teide, which at 12,198 feet is Spain’s highest mountain and home to some of the most fabulous hiking and biking trails in the entire country. The slopes leading to the summit of Teide are covered with arid lava fields to the south and pine trees to the north.
Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is a sprawling urban center, with accompanying crowds and British revelry. Beyond the more obvious sights, however, the island is extraordinarily beautiful and diverse, with banana plantations and vineyards dotted among isolated villages on mountain ridges, charming old towns and cultured port towns.
The hotel is a visually striking sprawling pink palace, visible for miles around in southern Tenerife thanks to its distinctive Moorish design and proximity to a huge and spectacular championship golf course. It’s located in southern Tenerife, which has a drier landscape and a higher concentration of tourists, but The Ritz-Carlton, Abama feels like a peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.
The resort’s physical footprint, at 160 hectares, is enormous, and it’s set in large expanses of lush garden, so there’s plenty of tropical foliage to admire, from cacti and colorful flowers to palm trees and a plantation of plantain. The spacious marble lobby, with a bar to the side, has a glass roof and leads to a lovely rooftop terrace – a great spot for sunset – with views through an archway down the center of the hall. main hotel (known as the Citadel) across a large carp pond and offshore.
The resort comprises 459 luxurious rooms and suites, spread over three main enclaves. The sheer size of the station may initially seem somewhat daunting, but there are various regular and one-off modes of transport to ensure that customers can get around easily. There is a train that runs between the hotel lobby and the beach twice an hour throughout the day, a funicular, and golf carts. There is also a footpath along the road.
The big advantage of the resort’s expanse is that it never seems crowded. When I visited my family in July, I would never have guessed that the hotel was at 98% occupancy.
There are three types of rooms (all resort or ocean facing) which are split between the main Citadel building and the villas on separate levels up the hill to the beach: deluxe, followed by junior suites and a bedroom. Our junior suite was remarkably spacious, at 80m² it was comfortably spacious, with a balcony accessible from the bedroom and living room.
Rooms are decorated in neutral tones, with contemporary furnishings and Nespresso machines as standard, an exceptionally comfortable bed, and stylish Moroccan lights. There is plenty of storage, a large marble bathroom with a separate toilet, two sinks, a shower and a large bathtub. Asprey toiletries smell great and are replenished frequently and generously. we ended up with a significant surplus at the end of our stay.
Dining options are plentiful and varied, from casual dining at the Beach Club to Michelin-starred (Japanese restaurant Kabuki holds one star; Basque restaurant MB two; the only restaurant in the Canary Islands to hold this distinction). Martin Berasategui, MB’s titular chef, has a second restaurant in the resort – Txoko – where you’ll find interesting small plates such as bright and rich Cantabrian anchovies and Canarian tomato ‘tiradito’, all kinds of raw and dried fish , as well as Spanish staples like patatas bravas and Iberian ham.
Verona serves up a comforting mix of classic Italian dishes and fabulous pizzas combined with more outrageous creations, such as lobster with caviar with parmesan cream, Sorrento lemon jam and sour ginger. The staff here – especially Diana and Ivan – deserve a special mention for their intelligence and attention to detail.
El Mirador offers the most spectacular views of any restaurant in the resort, so arrive in time for a sunset and book a table outside to feast on paellas filled with king prawns, langoustines, artichokes and asparagus. There’s also The Beach Club – a good place for a seafood platter and a cold beer at lunchtime – and 20/20 Steakhouse.
Breakfast is served at La Veranda, a generally high-quality international standard buffet — the egg station, pastries, and smoothie bar are particular highlights. Villa guests also have the option of having breakfast at El Mirador.
There’s plenty to enjoy at the spa, which offers a range of restorative and transformative treatments inspired by the natural world and local traditions. Facilities include herbal steam bath, Turkish hammam, cold plunge pool, cold cabin (like walk-in freezer) and heated beds, as well as spacious relaxation lounge with balcony, spa garden serene with yoga pavilion and a renovated gym with a wide array of state-of-the-art cardiovascular exercise machines.
The resort is so large and the on-site facilities so extensive that it would be perfectly possible to spend a few weeks here without setting foot outside the hotel grounds. There’s a par 72, 18-hole championship golf course and academy, and a seven-court flexi-paved tennis academy (both with stunning resort and sea views, and both chargeable ). Four golf and two tennis trainers can help you improve your game. There are seven beautifully landscaped pools dotted around the resort. The beach is located in a small rocky cove (covered with imported sand).
For guests keen to explore further afield, there is plenty on offer in the vicinity of the hotel, including whale watching expeditions, Siam Park (which has earned a reputation as one of of the best water parks in the world) and Loro Parque – an exotic zoo.
The resort is about a 30-minute drive from the airport and 10 minutes from the nearby fishing village of Playa San Juan for its restaurants and shopping.
The hotel is always popular with families, many of whom return year after year. No wonder, because young guests are well received. The hotel has the largest Ritz Kids club in Europe and offers a well-structured and well-managed activity program between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. for children from 4 to 12 years old. The club is spacious and colorful, and has a slide, a ball pool, cinema area, Planetarium room and a large outdoor area with a small swing and a swing.
I usually find it quite difficult to entice my children (ages four and six) to a hotel kids’ club, but they were happy to spend a few afternoons at this one during our stay. Activities on the program range from bracelet-making and face painting to yoga and water games, and there’s a good balance of active and leisure pursuits. There are morning and afternoon sessions (each session costs 25 euros per child), as well as a full day offer which includes lunch (provided as an extra), for 40 euros per child.
The Teens Club, for ages 13 to 17, offers a range of activities designed to appeal to even the most discerning teenagers, such as archery, mindfulness, street dancing, graffiti and DJing.
All restaurants offer children’s menus, and children under four eat free from a special menu. Family suites are available; four in the villas and eight in the Citadel, with all the baby equipment to borrow, from pushchairs to parasols.
In a word
The resort is an iconic bastion of luxury in Tenerife – a veritable microcosm of escape in a topographically unique landscape. The staff (there are around 800) are always smiling and eager to please. The wide range of world-class amenities – Michelin-starred restaurants, spa, golf and tennis facilities and kids’ club in a year-round ambient climate makes it an ideal destination for families, foodies and sports fans.
Rooms can be booked from 375 euros per night.
Address: Calle María Zambrano 2, Carretera General, TF-47, Km 9 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 38687 Spain
Call: +34 922 126 000
E-mail: [email protected]
Photography courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts