The Bahía Del Duque, Costa Adeje, Tenerife – Luxury Guaranteed

Bahía del Duque is a Leading Hotel of the World (LHW) and it easily lives up to that status.

It is situated in the most exclusive end of Costa Adeje and is a laid out as a mock 19th century Spanish / Canarian village with direct access onto Playa Del Duque. The ‘village’ has five pools, streets, squares, church towers and stunning architecture filled with a mix of palms, dragon trees, flame trees, jacarandas, fruit trees and cactus.

Bahía del Duque is located on a large estate of approximately 100,000sqm. This project by renowned architect Andrés Piñeiro, recreates a Villa, with nineteen low-rise independent houses.

What makes Bahía del Duque stand out is that it really doesn’t feel like a large hotel, but more of a homely Spanish village all on its own and in some areas, has scenes straight out of a fairy tale.

Our check in was seamless, a little automated to be honest, but efficient and speedy – it did what it said on the tin as they say! The staff, in their traditional dress, were excellent throughout the hotel and across all departments – nothing was ever a problem and they put you at ease from the moment you arrived.

One of the very few criticisms we did have of the hotel was the reception area which was very hot; it would have been nice to have an air-conditioned area for guests to relax and ‘chill’. Perhaps something to think of in the future, especially for guests waiting to be picked up for their journey home.

We were in a Deluxe Seaview room, on a half board basis, and we managed to land one with a sun terrace and decent views of the sea through the ‘village’ rooftops.

Since our last stay in 2012 the rooms have undergone refurbishment and they have more of a modern feel about them than before.

A nice touch was the bottle of fizz chilling for our arrival – needless to say it disappeared very quickly along with the chocolate dipped strawberries.

Having the sun on our terrace from mid-afternoon meant we could retire to our room, enjoy a bite to eat from the room service menu and then relax with a large gin on the incredibly comfortable sun loungers.

Bahia del Duque stood out for us during our last trip for its gastronomic dining experience and this is what we came back for.  This is where Las Aguas stepped up to the plate – pun intended! Worth noting that across all restaurants (except Sensu Kazan) guests on half board could choose ‘inclusive’ dishes, but for some dishes there were supplements to pay.

Las Aguas is the flagship restaurant of Bahía del Duque. Located within the area of Las Villas, in a unique and exclusive setting, it was created by the interior designer Pascua Ortega. Las Aguas serves traditional Canarian cuisine using the most avant-garde techniques developed by its chef Braulio Simancas.

Fresh fish, local meats, market produce and the chef’s own market garden provided a menu full of flavours and textures. Las Aguas is one of our favourites restaurants, so on our first night we chose the 13-course tasting menu.

Celebrating traditional, Canarian tradition and culture it was simply outstanding. From start to finish the dishes were fresh, intense and exciting and the experience was very well priced. The entire evening felt special and exclusive with the most attentive staff we have had for a long time.  Overall Las Aguas provided a first class start to our stay and set the bar for others restaurants to follow.

A special mention for the dessert of white chocolate soup, passion fruit, mint and cardamom – this dessert is delicious and remains one of our firm favourites; highly recommended and worth visiting Lad Aguas for that alone!

We dined again here on our final evening and chose the traditional a la carte menu as the tasting menu on offer was the same as our earlier visit.  Although, another enjoyable evening, it didn’t quite live up to our first night and it would have been nice to have an alternative tasting menu or wider selection of a la carte dishes for guests visiting the restaurant more than once during their stay. That said, the larger portion of white chocolate soup went down a treat.

With a beautiful view over the Hotel’s swimming pool and central plaza La Brasserie offered us a refined menu by prestigious Belgian chef Pierre Résimont. Developed further by chef Yoseba Llarena local and seasonal products made up an impressive menu of Gallic cuisine. We kept it simple and started with a Beef carpaccio cooked at low temperature, with tuna froth and then shared a lovely and simple Chateaubriand with Béarnaise sauce on the side. Sometimes simplicity and quality food is all you need for a special evening.

We were excited by the new offering since our last visit. Sensu Kazan, a partner restaurant for Bahia Del Duque, offered a menu of Japanese haute cuisine dishes, a Sushi Bar and a Robatayaki Grill.

We visited on our third night and although the food was excellent, fresh and authentic, we would have to say they really missed a trick in creating an atmosphere, capturing our senses and making it a memorable evening. Other than Sushi Bars, we haven’t eaten in many Japanese restaurants and it would have been nice to have been guided through what seemed to be an impressive menu.  Thankfully, the trusty Iphone was on hand to offer suitable translations. If they can get the customer engagement / experience right and to the same standards as the main hotel Sensu Kazan will become a worthy addition to the gourmet offering at the hotel. Not being part of the half board basis, they could perhaps consider the price point, as being very similar to Las Aguas, it certainly didn’t offer the same value for money.

Another new restaurant since our last visit, Sea, which means fire in Euskera (the Basque language), offered another gastronomic experience.

With expert chefs hard at work in an open kitchen they worked their magic with smoky aromas helping us on a journey into Basque cuisine.

We also dined in La Trattoria, which serves Italian cuisine, La Hacienda a mexican and Alisios Market Food.  All of them provided different atmospheres and options depending on your preferences each evening and importantly impressive menus and choices.

A buffet breakfast is served in El Bernegal restaurant with an excellent selection of cold, hot dishes and Nespresso coffee. When we chose to eat in the morning, led to a very different experience with the ‘family’ side of the resort clearing showing through during busier peak times. We ate here every morning just after 10am and it was very nice, but we did miss having the option of the more relaxing a la carte breakfast experience we have enjoyed at other hotels recently. A la carte breakfasts were available for guests staying in Casas Ducales and Las Villas accommodation, but that’s another level of luxury, sadly out of our price range!

El Bernegal offers themed buffets and show cooking in the evening where you could taste the best international cuisine.  We tried here one evening as we were dining early and were pleasantly surprised with the quality and presentation of dishes. Buffets tends to be more functional than a real dining experience and are not our preferred option however El Bernegal certainly provided a quality option for those guests with young children, or those perhaps looking for a less formal experience.

The Thalassotherapy circuit / spa is well worth a visit where a two-metre waterfall invites to enjoy hydromassage jets, bubble beds and the therapeutic benefits of sea water which is apparently taken directly from the Atlantic Ocean. We spent an entire day here during our second week and had one of our most relaxing experiences for a long time. This area is complemented by a hammam, saunas, a cold water pool and an outdoor solarium with shaded relaxation areas. The cold water pool certainly isn’t for the faint hearted!

This was our third time at Bahia Del Duque and our first since venturing into the food and travel world. This resort covers all the bases in terms of what we look for in a break, relaxation, luxury and a gourmet / gastronomic experience up there with the best!

The Bahia Del Duque, at this time of year anyway (August), didn’t give us the full couple’s experience we’ve enjoyed in the past, but it will also be a special place for us as it was probably the hotel that got us hooked on luxury and gourmet travel. No doubt we will be back in the future!

Elba Palace Golf & Vital Hotel (Update), Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura

Our first visit to Elba Palace felt like arriving home, so we didn’t know what to expect on our second.  Imagine arriving to a house full of friends – greeting you with a glass of fizz and hugs – that’s exactly what we received from Pilar and her team.

A first class welcome again, immediately putting you into holiday territory!

Our suite was fantastic with an amazing sun terrace to enjoy from late morning – sadly the sun itself was posted missing for much of the early part of our stay.  The suite was similar to our last visit and also had a good size wooden balcony which caught the early morning sun.

Our stay was another lazy one, and our previous blog from our August 2016 trip pretty much says it all.  A few updates though:

  • The hotel is still perfect for those looking for peace and quiet – a real jewel of a hotel and in our opinion the best in this area;
  • The guaranteed year round sunshine promise is up for debate as March was very different to our August stay;
  • Pilar George still knows how to run a hotel, making guests feel special and pitching in when needed;
  • A major plus point at the Elba Palace is that you can dine whenever you want. This is still the case as there’s no need to book or difficulty in getting a table in the St Andrews restaurant;

  • At this time of year it is too chilly to dine in the outdoor courtyard in the evening Although a more lively atmosphere, dining inside is not as intimate / romantic as the outdoor courtyard;

  • We explored more of the island this time round and it is worth repeating that Elba Palace food and drink prices remain very reasonable and can be enjoyed in much more pleasant surroundings than nearby resorts;

  • We reserved judgement on Caleta De Fuste during our last visit as there was some major beach reconstruction work underway. This is largely finished now and the resort does look much better;

  • Wi-Fi at the hotel has improved and is much faster;
  • There were definitely more golfers than before and guests slightly more mature!

Normally at this time of year we venture further afield than the Canaries – last year’s Jamaica trip feels so long ago! With a busy year ahead in 2017 though as well as looking after our bank balance for a few ‘big trips’ in 2018 Elba Palace certainly put up a very worthy performance – just a pity the weather didn’t do the same!

All in all, we had a very tranquil, relaxing and enjoyable stay in pleasant surroundings topped off with Elba Palace’s trade mark friendly, attentive and extremely courteous staff.  Special mention this time round to Priscila who looked after us very well throughout our stay – very attentive, pleasant and extremely customer focused.

Once again a big thank you to Pilar and her team for making our visit so special – hope to visit again some time in the future.

Elba Palace Golf & Vital Hotel, Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura

This was our first trip to Fuerteventura and we were simply looking for a lazy, relaxing and chilled out week in nice surroundings along with good food.

The Elba Palace Golf & Vital 5-star boutique hotel offered this in abundance and at a great price. This couples’ hotel, with only 61 rooms over two floors, also didn’t leave you feeling like one of the masses as you perhaps do sometimes in larger hotels – there is something really unique about this place.

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A 20 min walk from the main commercial centre, the hotel is positioned at the top of an 18-hole golf course and is perfect for those (i.e. us two!) looking for peace and guaranteed year round sunshine, as well as for those interested in golf (i.e. not us two!).

The hotel has been designed with colonial dark wooden balconies surrounding an internal courtyard planted with palm trees and other plants native to the island.

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We arrived at the hotel around 9pm after a pretty rapid and efficient airport transit and private transfer. What an incredible welcome we received – we honestly felt we had an arrived at family member’s house. Director Pilar George and David could not have been more friendly, welcoming and attentive.? Check in was swift and was accompanied by a lovely glass of pink fizz. We received the usual orientation style information and then we were shown to our room.

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Director Pilar George really knows how to run a hotel, make guests feel special and help out when needed. Where else in the world, when reception gets a little busy, would you ever see a Director assist guests with their luggage. Elba Hotels really have a top leader there and I only hope they can keep her – until our next visit at least!

Our suite was stunning and the bottle of cava with freshly made petit fois chocolates was a nice touch. We had been allocated an upper floor south east facing suite overlooking the pool area; this would not normally have been our first choice, but it was perfect. At that time of year only a handful of rooms seem to receive the sun late afternoon and early evening – thankfully one of them was ours.

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The suite, with a good size wooden balcony, was very spacious with a separate lounge area and large fully tiled bathroom area. A nice touch was the hydro massage shower and luxury bath along with the usual complementary gown, slippers, tea and coffee facilities and 2 x LED TV. ? The room also had a safe for use, mini bar and free Wi Fi.

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One of the real plus points at the Elba Palace is that you can dine whenever you want. There’s no need to book and no difficulty in getting a table in the tranquil outdoor courtyard style restaurant appropriately named St Andrews – after the home of golf. You simply turn up, sit down, order wine, choose food, relax and enjoy.

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St Andrews is an a la Carte restaurant with indoor and outdoor courtyard dining areas. It offers a romantic setting, dining under the palm trees and stars, and listening to a pianist or live music (on most nights). We dined here each night and had some really nice food. Main courses were good and the dessert buffet was fantastic – there is simply no chance of only choosing one!

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One thing management should perhaps consider is to have background music playing in the background before and after the live singers as it creates more of an atmosphere for guests to enjoy. All in all, we had seven very tranquil, relaxing and enjoyable dining experiences in pleasant surroundings topped off with Hotel Elba’s trade make friendly, attentive and extremely courteous staff.

Breakfast was served in Café Hoyo 19 which also served a wide range of dishes throughout the day including Tapas, Snacks and fresh salads.

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Breakfast was what you would expect from a buffet style set up with nice freshly brewed coffee and pastries to finish. We managed to bag a table each day on the outdoor terrace which was a nice way to start the day. Service was a little slow during our last few days, but we got the impression that they were maybe a little low on staff numbers. It wasn’t a problem though as it just meant we had longer time to enjoy our coffee accompanied by one (or two) of their amazing freshly made custard filled donuts.

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Perhaps worth noting that Elba Palace isn’t your usual type of 5 star hotel in terms of food and drink prices. Although more expensive than establishments in nearby Caleta De Fuste prices are very reasonable and you can enjoy them at the hotel in much more luxurious surroundings. Would be nice to see the suite mini-bar prices come down a little though, but you can’t have everything.

We only ventured out a few times to Caleta de Fuste, which is only a 20 min walk away, but with nice food and lovely surroundings we didn’t feel the need to leave the Elba Palace much as it was such good value. We’re also going to reserve judgement on Caleta De Fuste until our next visit – there is some major beach reconstruction work underway (August 2016) which certainly had an impact on our first impressions.

Although smaller than the usual hotels we stay at, the pool area was spacious and was very relaxing and tranquil. We never had a problem securing one of the comfortable cushioned wooden sunbeds with parasols and there were always a couple of balinese beds available if you wanted to give them a go later in the day. Pool service was available and the fresh fruit served early afternoon was again a nice touch.

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The Wi-Fi was a little temperamental around the pool, but it was nice to have a little digital detox time when it was down!

The hotel has plenty of other facilities including a relaxation area with jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath. Massage cabins, gym and padel tennis court. We also had free access to the seawater circuit at the nearby Sheraton Thalasso Spa and a personal trainer offering a daily sports program including Yoga, Tai Chi, Fitness, Aquagym and Pilates. We would love to say we tried all of these, but we never managed given we were only there for a week – perhaps next time though!

Would like to give a special mention to Laura who served us on our first few days – she was simply first class and always had a big smile – sadly she seemed to be on leave for the remainder of our stay, but the other staff stepped up to the mark in her absence. A mention is also due to Chapin from guest services / reception.  This young gentleman always had a smile on his face throughout our stay and he was always there to help and assist us whenever we had a question or needed assistance.  Our nearby city of Glasgow has a saying that ‘People make Glasgow’ – this is equally true at the Elba Palace where it is clear that the staff make the hotel what it is.

We don’t normally do seven day breaks as we never feel it is long enough for us to relax and switch off.  The Elba Palace though has changed that – from the very first day we were totally chilled and in the relaxed zone.  This feeling was down to the fantastic welcome we received, the outstanding customer service and supremely calming and tranquil ambience this hotel offers.

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We had such a great time that within 2 days of returning we booked again for a 10 day break in March next year. We also have a funny feeling this hotel will be on our radar for many future visits too.

La Cocina de Colacho, Playa Blanca – A Jewel of a find

We’ve been visiting Playa Blanca in Lanzarote for many years and what a mistake we’ve been making!

We simply can’t believe how many times we’ve driven past La Cocina de Colacho on our travels.  Wow, what an amazing find. So much so on our last visit we ate there three times – quite simply the best three meals of our trip.rest07

From the moment you enter this place you immediately feel part of it, in some respect, even the family.  Anabel greets you with a genuine, warm and welcoming smile that you rarely get in restaurants these days.  Even better is when she pours you a gin and tonic from the bottle at your table……what a measure.

Behind her, through a large glass window, ‘Colacho’, her husband is busy preparing what can only be said are Michelin star quality dishes.  Anabel’s husband Nicholas Machin, is known to everyone as Colacho, and we were fortunate to be eating in his kitchen or ‘Cocina’.  Lucky us! la-cocina-de-colacho

With its amazing modern design, geometric shapes, and glass everywhere the restaurant catches your attention instantly.  There is seating for around 60 covers split into several distinct and intimate eating areas. Anabel promised us a fantastic table and she didn’t disappoint.
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Anabel was front of house along with their charming son, making it a real family experience. Anabel is also a very talented artist and her work adorns the walls in the basement area when you venture downstairs; even the bathroom trip is part of the experience.

We had found this place online before we left Scotland as we were looking for something a little different from the usual Playa Blanca cuisine, which although normally very good, if you eat in the correct places, rarely offers the type of gourmet dining we like.  La Cocina de Colacho offers this though in abundance.

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There is a pretty varied a la carte menu to choose from and there are at least three daily specials on offer.  In Anabel’s words, and we would now have to agree, they are all ‘fantastico’!

We’ll leave you to experience the dishes when you visit, as our descriptions here, wouldn’t do them justice.  Here are some shots? of our dishes though – the warm chocolate pudding was to die for and well worth the wait.
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Finally, we’ve taken a quote from the restaurant’s website:

“Colacho has now realized the dream of his life, to have his own restaurant, a place where he can create and work freely”.

We’re just delighted we have now found this dream of a restaurant? and it’s definitely a must visit when we next return to Playa Blanca.

Thank you Anabel and Colacho

 

Princesa Yaiza, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote – Much more than chocolate crepes

After arriving at Princesa Yaiza, you immediately experience a feeling of luxury and calmness you might not usually expect from a Lanzarote resort.  It was late evening and we were greeted by a member of the management team with refreshing glasses of ‘Champagne’ or should we say a nice Spanish sparkling wine! Nonetheless it did the trick and immediately put us into vacation / holiday territory. Our 4hr flight from Scotland with Jet2 holidays had been great, but for breaks like this it’s not till you arrive does your holiday begin.

images (2)Check-in was seamless and pleasant, although some air conditioning in the main reception area would have been nice; something we became quite aware of throughout our stay.  Maybe one for the hotel to look into – although we do appreciate the environmental argument.

Our email to guest relations prior to arrival also seemed to have been on their radar and we were assured we would be pleased with our room. We are not keen on rooms on the ground floor and much prefer sun in the afternoon and evening. We also like to be in a quiet area of any resort – so only three challenges for the reservations team to deal with. A nice touch was when the receptionist was able to show us a view from our room on their booking system; we’d never seen this before, but a great idea.

We’re always a little apprehensive when we first try a resort; room location can really make or break a trip. We walked through a tropical paradise of palm trees and running streams and then along an open, airy walkway to our room on the second floor. Our Double Superior room with Sea View was large and spacious with a large sitting area and to be honest was what we had expected, the dressing room though was a pleasant bonus. It was to a high standard, with rustic wooden furniture and ‘interesting’ wall art. The bathroom had everything you needed and a quick check on the shower pressure assured us that all was in order and that we could make full use of the excellent range of toiletries provided.

The balcony was much larger though and had two wicker sun chairs, but the question of whether it received the sun in the afternoon was still unanswered.  A quick check on an iPhone app gave us some confidence things should be ok, but we weren’t sure – all would be revealed in the morning! The night time balcony view was special with large palm trees and the pool lit up pretty spectacularly. A saxophonist was also playing nearby; mmmm, what was that they said about a quiet area of the resort!

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A quick unpack meant we were able to venture out to our favourite cocktail bar Vino Blanco at the Rubicon Marina a 12 minute walk from the hotel. Nothing had really changed since our last visit, except a new addition to the menu.  Restaurants that display pictures of the food on their menu board is a ‘no no’ for us and unfortunately these had arrived at Vino Blanco. Pleased to say though that the cocktails, atmosphere and views of the marina were great and we would certainly recommend a visit or two if you can. We did find out later though that the food in the pictures was still actually rather good, but please Vino Blanco ditch those pictures as they don’t do your food or establishment any justice.

We headed back to our room around 11pm; a late one for us, and finally managed to get to sleep with an air of anticipation over what the morning would bring. Pleased to say that the saxophonist had also gone to bed and he and his entertainment colleagues did so each night around 10pm for the remainder of our stay. The choc on the bed and the vanilla aromatherapy meant we were sleeping in minutes.  The following night after a review of the ‘pillow menu’ was even better.

The view from our balcony in the morning was excellent, looking over greenery and a stunning salt water pool. We were in block C and almost everyone in block A opposite was basking in the morning sun, having coffee on their balconies. Not us though, we were already looking to forward to the afternoon and early evening sun with a few glasses of sparkling wine in hand. Although not top floor, we weren’t ground either; the reservations team had done a pretty good job for us this time round, so top marks for them.

download (1)imagesOur first breakfast at the Yaiza was what you would expect from a 5* star hotel buffet restaurant with the usual dishes on offer for you to browse, walk a few miles before choosing a little of every dish you fancied followed up with several visits to fill up on juice in the tiny glasses. Seriously though, the surroundings were great and service excellent and was a more than acceptable place to start the day.

We do like something different though, something more relaxing and less strenuous!? More importantly we like to spend time with each other at breakfast as opposed to passing each other with a plateful of chocolate crepes and donuts.

So the next day and for the rest of our stay, we decided to ‘dine’ at breakfast in the gourmet Isle de Lobos restaurant. The restaurant terrace is elevated and nestled in lush greenery with stunning views of Fuerteventura and Playa Dorada beach. The food is to die for, with rich Lavazza coffee on tap and for the more adventurous some Spanish ‘cava’ champagne. Lounge room music plays gently in the background whisking you away to another place. The menu is vast and rich, and to help you decide what you would like they bring you a platter of fresh bakery to give you energy during your decision making thought process. Importantly though in all of this you can still try the chocolate crepes at the end of your morning; just with a little more style and elegance.

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The gourmet Isle de Lobos restaurant is what holidays are all about and although you pay a little more for this breakfast experience it really is worthwhile and makes your trip much more special and romantic.  We also ate in the Isle de Lobos restaurant once in the evening and again would recommend it to anyone; it certainly deserves its gourmet accolade.

We enjoyed our balcony so much we continued with the sparkling wine theme (with some gin for extra measure) and had 3 nights on it ordering in room service, listening to the live singer and saxophonist in the hotels courtyard. Very romantic and relaxing; just what we both needed.

For the remaining nights stay we ventured out to nearby restaurants. All were great with the usual type of food on offer. However, one restaurant in particular was simple outstanding – La Cocina de Colacho.

So much so, we’ll be doing a separate blog / review on this in the coming days.

Have to say that Princesa Yaiza also featured other stunning restaurants and menus to choose from and these will be on our radar next time. The gourmet Isla de Lobos is joined by the Japanese Kampai and the Italian Don Giovanni. There is also the more down to earth El Chiringuito restaurant and snack bar and the Bodega Tapas. The only reason we didn’t try these was that we needed a bit of a walk to work of those Crepes; why oh why do they put scales in your hotel room?

Our holidays at this time of year are pretty relaxing and with the exception of a few mid afternoon walks for lunch into the Rubicon Marina we spent most of our day time lying by the pool or on our balcony in the afternoon. We also spent time in the Thalasso Spa on a few occasions, enjoying the hydrotherapy jets, tea room, sauna and Turkish baths. A truly relaxing and calming experience and worth a try.

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It wasn’t all relaxation, we did have one energetic excursion over two days exploring the area on mountain bikes – well we had to do something to work off those chocolate crepes.  Hotel reception was able to organize the bikes for us very quickly and a company brought them at a specified time. The trip was definitely worth it as we caught sunrise at Papagayo Beach; just the two of us. Wow.

We really couldn’t complain about anything at the resort although there was the usual issue with European hotels with some sunbeds being ‘reserved’ early on. Not a major problem getting one as there are plenty however the hotel should try and space them out a little as it did get cramped on occasion in some areas.

Interesting part of our stay was seeing the filming of the promotional hotel movie and images. It was great to see and fun to watch the ‘beautiful’ people having a normal family holiday. Although the drone flying overhead on our second day gave us all a little fright given what’s happening across the world these days, but we soon got over it. All in all though we’re sure the video will give a pretty good account of what to experience at Princesa Yaiza and we’ll post a link to it when it’s ready. (NB: We’re the pale looking couple in the bottom right of the shot; hadn’t managed to catch any real sun by that time!)

The Princesa Yaiza is fantastic and our kind of place; it’s now definitely on our radar for further visits and is more than likely our accommodation of choice when we visit this area again; we can highly recommend a stay here.

That’s our first travel blog completed. Hope you enjoyed it and we promise it will get better!

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