A five-star guide to the seaside
A top-end resort has opened in Gran Canaria's tourist hub. Can you have a classy holiday in a package hotspot, asks Kate Simon
Sunday 11 March 2007
It's a big night in Maspalomas on the south coast of Gran Canaria. Barcelona are playing Liverpool. We like to think of ourselves as internationalists in our house, so we're supporting Barcelona - though it might have more to do with being Man Utd fans.
It's probably an even bigger night in Playa del Inglés, just along the shore, where British bars jostle for space on its concrete promenade. But we've opted for the lower-key choice; Maspalomas may have the odd bacon and egg merchant but it's not the Full English experience like its neighbour.
To be honest, this isn't our usual choice of holiday destination. We've been drawn to the tourist hub of this popular Canary Island by a new hotel, the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa. Though it's only a 15-minute drive to the seafront - and from your room you will be able to see Maspalomas's 19th-century lighthouse and the high-rise urban sprawl of Playa del Inglés - the hotel is far enough away to provide a peaceful retreat.
Tranquillity is what the new Sheraton resort will surely sell itself on. (Though, unfortunately, our holiday coincided with a corporate event that shattered the peace - you'd be advised to check that such a jolly isn't scheduled during your stay.) Here families can position themselves in the sunniest part of the island, near good beaches and child-friendly attractions, while staying in quiet, sophisticated surroundings with a golf course and spa on hand.
The Sheraton Salobre climbs a craggy hillside, a sleek modern structure using a seductively tactile mix of stone, slate, metal and wood, carved into the landscape in sharp, angular lines. Its 313 rooms and suites are spread over 11 floors. To get to ours on the tenth required taking three lifts, a regime we got used to. But it pointed up a problem for families: children aren't allowed in the lifts alone under the age of 12, an understandable safety consideration, but a bit of a drag for mum and dad.
A more obvious concern to parents of young children will be the many opportunities for them to toddle over an edge: the nature of this hotel's stepped design means they're everywhere, sometimes dropping straight into pools. So vigilance is required at all times.
Still, the resort has been designed with children in mind. There may not be many places to run free (you'll have to head to the beach for a game of football), but there are seven outdoor heated pools, one specifically for kids, so swimming is the obvious highlight of a holiday here.
And there is a clutch of other diversions dotted about the floors, including a crèche with playground for children over three years old and a games room for older kids called Teenz @ Salobre (though, disappointingly, you will need a pocketful of euros to operate the table football, snooker and air hockey - only the table tennis and board games are free of charge).
That's probably more than enough on-site entertainment because you're bound to want to get out to the beach and the one at Maspalomas is lovely, a long stretch of golden sand backed by a desertscape of dunes. And, thoughtfully, the hotel has taken the hassle out of the fact that it isn't on the doorstep. A free bus service shuttles guests between the resort and a private beach house, set just behind the promenade. There guests can pick up fresh towels before heading on to the sands, and when the sun is high retire to the shade of its poolside terrace.
For variation, concierge can arrange boat trips, camel safaris and the like. Or take yourself off to one of the nearby hardcore kiddies' attractions: Sioux City, Holiday World funfair, Gran Karting Club and Aqualand Aqua Sur are all nearby.
After all, a bit of brash fun is just what a family holiday needs - so long as you can beat a retreat.
THE COMPACT GUIDE
HOW TO GET THERE
British Airways (0870-850 9850; gbairways.com), operated by GB Airways, offers flights to Gran Canaria from £49 one way.
Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa (00800 325 35 353; sheraton.com) offers b&b in a double room from €140 (£100) per night. Children under six sharing their parents' room stay free; six-14 years €50 (£36) per night. A week's car hire starts from £81 with Carrentals.co.uk (0845-225 0845; carrentals.co.uk).
Airport Parking and Hotels (0870-733 0515; aph.com) offers one night's accommodation and eight days' parking at Gatwick airport from £73.
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