Chalkmarks Tenerife

I’VE done it. I’ve come back to Tenerife but I have grown up. I’m not in one of those 18-to-30s-resorts where young Britons enjoy the sun, sea, fry-ups and Irish pubs. I have been there and done that.

In fact I thought the whole place was one big Spanish party island but all that noise is tucked away in a very small corner in the south. In the north, it’s a different experience

This is the place to be hot but lazy. I can eat breakfast for four hours on the terrace, take a snooze before lunch and have a gentle splish-splash in the pool.

If I feel the urge to stand up, I can take a stroll through the park, visit the market or sit down again in a tapas bar to linger all afternoon starring at the big blue sky. And after all that, I can enjoy a four-course dinner. 

The north-south divide: One hell of a view from the north
The north-south divide: One hell of a view from the north
Tenerife: Discovering the laid back side of a the island
Tenerife: Discovering the laid back side of a the island

It’s a whole different island, far away from the busy beaches, bars and sunburned punters. The two places have nothing in common. 

In the capital Santa Cruz, in the oldest hotel the Iberostar Grand Hotel Mencey, the dream scenario continues in the bar.

Here they serve stand out gin and tonic. The best I have tasted in my life. Thank god there is a whole menu of them with 45 to choose from. So over a long-weekend break, I drink a lot of gin. A huge lot.

This G&T doesn’t come served in a highball glass with ice and a slice. No, there is celery, cinnamon, liquorice, strawberries, cucumber, rosemary, coriander or apple to choose. And that’s not to mention the variety of chic tonic waters and brands of gin that come out.  

The bartender comes over to the table with a trolley of spirit bottles, mixers, ice and a goldfish bowl of a wine glass.

He then narrows his eyes and begins pouring the gin. He shows little intention of stopping until there’s just room for a splash of tonic in the top. Less than that – a dribble. 

I raise my eyebrows and he winks back, saying gracias when he moves off.

I brace myself. I wrap my two hands around this monster glass and take a gulp. I thought the alcohol would go straight behind my eyeballs but it was lovely.

It beats a bottle of lager necked on the pavement filled with hordes of revellers. I watch as a family with young children dance together to the live singer. Then it’s to bed where I fall asleep immediately.

In the Canaries: Tenerife has a volcanic landscape
In the Canaries: Tenerife has a volcanic landscape
Spectacular sea views: Rock formations on the coast
Spectacular sea views: Rock formations on the coast

If I’d felt nostalgic for a foam party, dancing till sunrise and downing shots, I could have nipped into nearby Puerto de la Cruz for a dizzying all-nighter.

But this impressive five-star lodging, which sits on the main road in front of Garcia Sanabria Park and just minutes from the shops and port, has it all.

In this bells and whistles establishment, they even serve champagne with breakfast, which goes down well with my sunshine yellow eggs and fresh croissants and jam. This is definitely my thing.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands just off the north coast of Africa creating a sub-tropical paradise, which is why so many Britons go over for a blast of winter sun.

Then there’s the world’s third largest volcano Mount Teide which creates their famous black sandy beaches. It also has Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site.

When the hotel doors swung open in the 1950s, it was a trailblazer aimed at attracting tourists. This was years before they built the holiday spots in La Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos.

Despite its old age, it doesn’t look drab, thanks to a recent £34 million refurb. It’s gone for gardens over swimming pools (just the two), a spa and a casino. 

The clever renovation mixes the modern with its former glory giving the feel of 1950s Hollywood glamour when Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Sophia Loren could be counted among its guests.

The handsome white stone building is now a 21st century landmark with 40 turtles swimming around in the courtyard. 

The bedrooms go in for white fashioned walls and curtains with comfy black and wooden furniture.

Food devotees should make a pilgrimage as they’ve recently introduced a series of events offering up the greatest Spanish food ever.

So instead of spending time finding the best restaurant, the top women Michelin starred chefs come to you. Beatriz Sotelo held the first masterclass with a full afternoon cooking followed by an evening of six courses including razor clams and Tataki beef served with a wasabi yogurt sauce.

Say cheers: The best G&T

While I hadn’t tried many of the foods on the menu before, she gave us laid back and heart-filled explanations between each course.

For pudding we had brioche with fruit and vegetables that had been caramelised to a crisp on the top. It was so fantastic, I ate two servings.

After the unforgettable meal I couldn’t resist heading to the bar for a relaxed, last proper drink. If I were forced to choose one cocktail for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t be a tough choice.

Holidays like this in Tenerife could be the next big thing.

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