Sprawling out on a sunny beach is one way of getting over the stress of Christmas. Sprawling out on a load of massage tables is better.
Forget trudging around museums and old ruins – my wife and I just needed to unwind and not move that much. So we jumped on a four-hour flight to Gran Canaria for a gruelling programme of spas and sunshine.
This circular Canary Island off the coast of north-west Africa has earned the imaginative nickname the Round Island.
It is only 29 miles across but that is space enough for some beautiful beaches and top spas.
Liz and I flew into the capital in Las Palmas, in the north, and had a half-hour transfer south to the region of Maspalomas.
This area is close to the popular tourist resort of Playa del Ingles, but far enough from the clubs and all-night bars for some peace.
And peace was what we wanted. So the Seaside Palm Beach, a stone’s throw from the sandy beach and Maspalomas dunes and nature reserve, was the perfect spot.
The hotel was built in the 70s and was fully refurbished a few years ago but has kept its retro-chic look. It has three large pools – a thalasso salt water swimming pool, the main one and a children’s area that is ideal for splashing about.
Behind the garden is an excellent spa where I had a herbal ball massage, which involved hot bags of herbs. A first for me.
Liz kicked off her back-to-back treatments with a relaxing hot stone treatment. It’s a wonder the pair of us did not fall head first snoring into our dinners at the restaurant.
The hotel alternates between a tasty a la carte four-course meal and a lavish barbecue, where you can eat as much local fish and meat as is physically possible. Added bonus – the wine we had was a lovely white from nearby Lanzarote. After pigging out we strolled along the beach, passing the lighthouse to watch the sunset.
You can also drop into Cafe del Mar to catch some cabaret before staggering back to base.
In search of more spa action, we visited the new Salobre Hotel resort, a 20-minute drive inland. It has a fab spa and 18-hole golf course – one of eight courses on this tiny island.
But we only had time for one – and the spa won over the green.
We did make time to wander around the quiet town of Maspalomas to have a gawp at the duty-free designer shops.
For relaxation with a twist, you can head down the coast to the San Austin Gloria Palace hotel and its massive thalasso. Here, guests and visitors can exercise in the water doing a circuit of the jets, Jacuzzi and hot and cold pools.
It takes about an hour and you come out feeling fit and relaxed, ready to take in some sun and a cold beer on the rooftop pool bar.
Puerto de Mogan is a beautiful old fishing village which has grown into a thriving harbour packed with yachts, hotels and bars and bougainvillea-covered restaurants.
It is also home to Submarine Adventure, where you can dive down to 30 metres on a genuine submarine. It holds about 30 passengers and everyone gets a porthole to peek through to watch out for wrecks and colourful sealife.
We returned to the surface laughing and feeling like brave underwater adventurers.
Once safely back on dry land, you can lunch in one of the harbourside restaurants and then explore the pretty side streets and bridges of this little Venice.
A ten minute walk away from the harbour is the Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa, built on the site of the old tropical gardens. And they have not forgotten it – inside in the sitting areas they have kept some of the mature trees and giant palms.
Oh and they also have a luxurious spa here and offer some brilliant treatments to help you unwind.
Clocking up four massages in four days is not bad going. I reckon we could have cancelled the flights and floated back to Britain.
Book the holiday
- Rooms at the Seaside Palm Beach cost from £200 per night, B&B. You can find out more on hotel-palm-beach.com.
- Visit grancanariawellness.com and grancanariablue.com, where you can find details on boat trips and watersports.
Easyjet has flights to Gran Canaria from £30 one way. Find out more on the easyJet website.
See atlantidasubmarine.com for more on the Submarine Adventure.
More travel tips
Take an early morning walk along the sandy beach from Maspalomas to Playa del Ingles.
Hire a car or Jeep to visit the centre of the island, taking winding mountain roads to traditional villages.
Get a bus to Las Palmas for duty-free shopping and tour the capital. Pack light if you are buying lots of goodies to stay under baggage allowances.
Book activities such as golf and boat trips in advance to save time on arrival.
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