When I was 19, around £200 each bought us a week, self catering, including flights (!) to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. We were met at the airport by a tour operator, crammed onto a coach with mostly retired couples, and dumped outside the resort, which was located basically in the middle of no-where, surrounded by sand dunes. I remember the weather veering between hot and windy to very cool and overcast. The island was pretty much a building site. It didn’t matter, as it was still an incredible adventure for a teenager, 1000’s of miles away from home.
Most British people will also have memories of holidays to the Canaries in your teens, excitedly looking through travel brochures (yes, actual brochures!) in Thomas Cook on your local High Street. Or your first thoughts may be the tourist trap resorts of Playa de las Américas or Playa des Ingles, choc full of British tourists and their kids grabbing a cheap package holiday in the sun.
Fast forward a few years (maybe more than a few 😆), and I have returned to the Island of Gran Canaria several times over the past two years. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much the island has developed and matured, and it’s now one of my go to places for a luxury poolside holiday. We steer clear of the crowded beach resorts, and head further into the hills, finding beautiful and luxurious resorts to enjoy spectacular food, decadent relaxation and – if you can tear yourself away from the pool – incredible hiking trails. This is Gran Canaria for grown ups! Read on for my recommendations and reviews of this beautiful island paradise (unfortunately you’ll need a bit more than £200 these days 😉)
The Canary Islands are around a 4.5 hr flight from mainland Europe and the UK. As I now live in Amsterdam, we fly from Schiphol, and our only option is to fly with Transavia (part of the KLM Group). It’s a typical “low cost” airline, which actually isn’t very low cost! Add on the extras for hold luggage, choosing seats, etc, you know the drill – it soon adds up to a regular priced KLM ticket! The planes have so many seats packed into them they they actually obstruct the windows, and there is zero leg room. They are incredibly strict with hand luggage, charging for anything remotely overweight. We have vowed to always just pay for hold luggage, as it’s not worth the hassle.
Luckily Gran Canaria is definitely worth the uncomfortable 4.5 hr journey! Keep remembering this as you drink an overpriced cup of Nescafe while trying to block out the noise of the screaming baby in the next seat!
Once landed, there are plenty of taxis outside to get you to your resort. Expect to pay around €60-70 euros (to Maspalomas for example). The drivers mostly know exactly where they’re going.
Where we stay
Part of the SPG Group, this is a true 5* resort experience, with a total of 7 swimming pools, various dining options, a first class spa and beautiful views over the golf course and hills. It’s in the South of the Island set into the hills to the North West of Maspalomas. Gran Canaria is one of the sunniest places on earth, and has over 3000 hours of sunshine per year. That said, I’ve generally found the South of the island to be the most consistent weather (compared with Agaete, which I’ll talk about in my next post).
On our recent visit, we were upgraded to a suite with a view over the pristine golf course from the private balcony.
good to know: since Marriott merged with Starwood, Marriott rewards members receive the same benefits and upgrades when in an SPG property.
The room was spacious and luxurious, furnished with dark wood furniture and wooden slatted room dividers. There was a large living area and bathroom, with free standing bath, as well as a separate shower room, with a lovely rain head shower (oh how I miss the water pressure now I’m back in my top floor Amsterdam apartment!)
The well appointed luxury bathroom & bedroom areas
The layout of the room was a little awkward, with the wardrobes in the corridor between the rooms, and the toilet separated from the open plan bathroom only by a frosted glass swing door. Call me a prude, but I like a little more privacy! Unfortunately this seems to be the case in a lot of Spanish hotels. So very continental 😉 Overall, the suite was lovely, and of the level I would expect from a 5* resort.
A room with a view – the huge private balcony!
We did experience a problem with the housekeeping/cleaning of the room during our stay. I noticed that under the sofa in the living room was very dirty with dust, and what looked like food remnants. We had to mention the issue to the reception staff & Guest Relations Manager in person, then over the phone, then finally leave a note for the housekeeper (in my bad Google Spanish!) before anything was done about it. It was frustrating as the room was otherwise well kept. I don’t think this is a general reflection on the cleanliness of the place.
The supplies of toiletries were also not replaced daily, which I would expect, so we had to ask a few times before that happened. Yes, I know, First World problems, but this is what I write about and you’re here reading this because you also like luxury travel 😊Eventually both the Guest Services Manager and Housekeeping Manager spoke to us to check everything was OK.
The 11th floor pool area & ground floor Aloe Spa
Of the 7 pools at the resort we have two favourite areas. The Aloe Spa on the ground floor has a beautiful pool area, where the water is slightly heated, so it’s the perfect temperature to slide in from the sun without a shock! Taking in the view of the mountains and golf course while wallowing in the pool is blissful. There are water jets and bubble beds (my personal favourite) on a timer system.
Cava time by the pool anyone?
Inside the spa there are steam rooms, sauna etc, and an extensive treatment menu, as well as a relaxation area with water/tea & snacks. The hour long pedicure has to be one of the most relaxing things I have ever done! (see toes, above).
The reception staff will happily arrange food and Cava to be brought to you poolside.
Access to the Spa costs around €50 per person, which lets you use the facilities for 3 hours per day during your stay. For Elite Spg or Marriott members it’s complimentary.
The 11th floor pool area is absolutely stunning, with views across the mountains and ocean. This pool area is adults only, and surrounded by beautiful Balinese sunbeds. Some of then are first come first served. Others can be reserved for €35, which includes a bottle of Cava. There is a button on one of the bed posts to call for service, if you are feeling incredibly decadent (and/or lazy).
Having a stressful time on the Balinese beds!
We had one mix up with the booking of our bed on my Birthday. They didn’t have our reservation on the 11th floor, despite us booking at reception 3 days previously. Luckily, there was one spare, but again I would expect better communication here.
Most evenings, we ate at the buffet restaurant, which has recently been extended, both in size and food offering. It is now of Las Vegas standards! There is every starter, main or dessert you can imagine. There are several chefs ready and waiting to cook fresh fish, meat or stir fry to your taste. They also have a nice wine list, including local wines from the islands.
Filling up at the dinner buffet and a colourful breakfast!
Camaleon Trattoria Restaurant
This is the more formal restaurant at the resort, offering a good standard of Italian style dishes. We ate here twice, once for a regular evening meal, and once for surprise private dining, which had been arranged by my partner for my Birthday 🙂
The restaurant itself effortlessly interlinks the covered inside dining area to the open air space, and has an elegant and luxurious feel, overlooking the hills and golf course. The food is very good and there’s a nice wine list. Our waiter, Denis, was very knowledgeable and professional.
Overall, the Sheraton Salobre comes highly recommended for a truly 5* luxury resort experience. Be prepared for total relaxation!
We travelled there at the end of September, when the weather was perfect every day, with little wind. There were mainly young couples, retired couples, and one or two very young children. Obviously we are travelling during school term time to avoid the crowds. I would definitely recommend this time of year if you have small or no children!
In my next post, I’ll be taking you to a completely different area of Gran Canaria – the beautiful province of Agaete in the North. Expect beautiful coastal views, lush mountains and excellent hiking – a world away from the overcrowded resorts
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Adios for now!