I wonder if it’s just me, or if all mums of older teenagers approach every family holiday opportunity with a bit of a heavy heart, thinking: ‘this could be the last one EVER’? I mean, frankly, it’s ridiculous, because, as a friend in a similar situation rightly told me recently, ‘it doesn’t matter how old they get, they’ll always be up for a free holiday’. Especially one as heavenly as this one.
If you haven’t heard of the Seaside Palm Beach Hotel, I guarantee you’ll be booking a trip there yourself after I tell you all about it. It’s a multi-award winning hotel (it’s been awarded the gold level of sustainable tourism by Travelife, certificates of excellence by Trip Advisor and Thomas Cook, as well as the Tui Holly Award) and we’d seen it when we visited Gran Canaria before. The boys were so excited about a week of chilling in such luxurious surroundings, we couldn’t have fought them off, let alone worried about them wanting to come with us.
So off we set, a little bunch of raggle taggle gypsies: one in a panda hat, one in some very dodgy printed harem trousers his mate bought him back from India, two looking vaguely embarrassed: wandering through Gatwick Airport, with more tech than you could shake a stick at (this was courtesy of Three who set us some rather awesome challenges, but more of this later) and soon, we were pulling up outside the hotel.
Situated right on the famous dunes at Maspalomas, the Palm Beach hotel was originally built in 1975 and inspired by the sweeping hotels of Miami beach. When tasked with a redesign in 2002, architect Alberto Pinto decided to celebrate the hotel’s 70s roots with a fabulous retro refit, introducing dramatic colour schemes and authentic retro furniture designs.
Pinto selected the colours of the rooms to reflect the hotel’s gorgeous surroundings: sandy beiges, sunset pinks and oranges, sky blues and grassy greens. This is Room 201, my favourite, with walls inspired by the colour of the sunset and floors echoing the sea and sand. Isn’t it fabulous? The bathrooms are equally as impressive: modern and large with a very good sized walk in shower.
The main lobby area is full on Austin Powers retro, with bright colours and really funky furniture. It’s an absolute triumph and so appealing. One of the things we noticed about the hotel was the proper, old fashioned attention to detail. Arriving at the front of the building and dithering as we weren’t really sure where to park, an incredibly polite uniformed concierge appeared from nowhere to park our car for us, and another to whisk away our luggage while we were welcomed in for a glass of champagne before a very smooth and easy check in.
The hotel is set in a heavenly, lush palm grove, part of a protected UNESCO nature reserve (some of the palms are really old and take an awful lot of nurturing – the garden staff are rather obsessed with them, we noticed!), with a large, main swimming pool and a delightful children’s pool which is completely shaded, in part by the corner of the hotel and in part by palms – what a clever idea. We loved the pretty little thatched pool bar area (they did incredibly good garlicky prawns with loads of crusty bread too).
After a little wander on the first day, we discovered our favourite part of the gardens – through a little palm-shaded pathway, there’s a lovely ‘relaxation’ pool, which is a salt water pool, complete with frothy bubbly seating areas, and all sorts of other jets, including one so strong it was nicknamed ‘the depantinator’ for its ability to whip off your bikini bottoms if you stood too close. This quiet area, around by the spa (oh, the spa – more of this later), was dotted with soft, comfy beds and huge umbrellas and looked after by staff who seem completely invisible until you take the very last sip of your drink, then seem to sense that you need them and appear as if by magic. The silence was broken once a day by the waterobics man, who came and got us off our sunbeds and into the water for a half hour of exercise:
There’s also a really clever outdoor gym, and around in front of the gym’s entrance, there’s a small ‘secret’ pool that nobody seems to know about. It was always empty, completely camouflaged by foliage and palms, and just gorgeous to float in, feeling like you were the only person in the whole world:
The boys do get itchy feet after too long toasting on a sunbed, so it was lovely to have the gardens to explore. They played ‘Wizards’ Chess’, boules, table tennis and some other shuffleboardy thing that we didn’t know the name of, or indeed the rules, but spent many a happy hour playing and arguing and playing and arguing over a bit more.
There were lovely, chilled yoga and tai chi classes in a quiet area on the lush lawns (I really enjoyed the yoga – I’m going to try and find a class near here).
We played tennis (well, kind of), swam for hours, sipped sangria while reading our iPads and tablets (Three’s Feel at Home service covers Gran Canaria, so we had all our usual data to use) ate glorious food, drank incredible wine and basically were very, very pampered. Honestly, just heaven.
I had a fabulous treatment in the spa too. My therapist, Roberto, talked me through the Pantai Luar treatment. It’s basically a massage using these little hand-held pads that contain special herbs. The pads are heated in warm, aromatic oil and then used for quite a deep tissue massage. I’ve got to be honest, I walked in a little bit sceptical, and with a million things whizzing round in my brain, but after Roberto had barely finished massaging the first arm, my mind was completely blank and floaty. After the treatment – and a restorative cup of mint tea – I slept soundly on my sunbed for a good couple of hours!
I’ll tell you all about the food and what else we got up to soon, but I’ll leave you with these views of the pool areas at night, all twinkly and gorgeous. All the palms around the pools were wrapped in fairy lights, and it really was completely magical to sit out in the balmy evenings, sipping a drink. I think it’s what I miss the most.
Based on our stay in August, seven nights at the Seaside Palm Beach Hotel cost £117 per person per night. This price is based on two people sharing on a half board basis and excludes flights.
If you’d prefer to travel as part of a package, Thomson offers seven night holidays to Gran Canaria staying at the 5T Seaside Hotel Palm Beach, Thomson A La Carte on a half board basis from £939 per person. Price is based on two adults and two children sharing, and includes flights departing from London Gatwick airport on 27th August 2016 and transfers. To find out more about this holiday or to book visit your local Thomson travel shop,thomson.co.uk or call 0871 230 2555.