Generally speaking, purpose-built holiday resorts just don’t do it for me. They lack some of the things I look for when I travel. I’ve stayed in plenty over the years but after a couple of days I’m ready to move on. Subsequently I wouldn’t book a week or a fortnight’s holiday in one.
But that’s my travelling preference rather than a judgement on purpose-built holiday resorts.
Many of the people who come to Tenerife will end up staying at a purpose-built resort. That’s a fact. There are a number of reasons for this. A lot of investment has gone into Tenerife’s resorts to make them as attractive as possible in a tourist market that is increasingly competitive. As a result, time has also been invested in marketing these resorts. The success of Costa Adeje as a brand is an example of how effective that marketing has been.
Purpose-built resorts also supply the average holidaymaker with the sort of ingredients that make for a relaxing and fun holiday experience – good hotels and plenty of beaches, bars and restaurants. Tenerife’s weather does the rest.
The other thing is that they are fun. Kick back, let your hair down and relax good fun. We were in a bar in San Eugenio and the fun the punters were having was infectious. It was a great holiday bar that brought back memories of other great holiday bars in places we’ve visited around the world. It had a bouncing atmosphere.
I totally understand the attraction of these resorts and, in the ten years we’ve been here, many have ‘upped’ their game in terms of the quality of what’s on offer. A couple haven’t and still fit the tired naff 80s ‘Blackpool in the sun’ image that the island has had around its neck like an albatross wielding a double edged sword for years. I can think of one resort that reminds me of inner city east Manchester 15 years ago.
We talk to lots of people who look down their noses at Playa de las Américas and yet to me the area around the Safari Centre epitomises the very best of what a modern purpose built beach resort can offer. I know we harp on about the ‘real Tenerife’ but that’s because the bulk of the island has been ignored by the British press and online English language forums for years. It still is. The balance in the English speaking world is seriously weighted towards what is a geographical minority. Plus the ‘real’ Tenerife is a much more interesting place if you’re the sort of person who likes to explore the destinations you visit.
But Playa de la Américas does what it does extremely well.
I used to have a gripe about the growth of All Inclusive but a couple of things changed my view. I used to think of AI as being short-sighted and strangling local economies, even though they made holidays affordable for families.
But after being in bars near some AI hotels something occurred to me. Much of the time, the bars and restaurants were pretty poor quality. We sat in a bar where the owner bemoaned the effect AI was having and all the while I was thinking ‘but your bar is awful.’
Too many people have been resting lazily on their laurels, not having to do anything as the sun brought customers through the door. The rise of AI changed that – who’d want to leave a nice looking hotel for a dingy bar that was stuck in the 80s? The crisis and smarter marketing by other hot destinations have also led to the demise of businesses who stood still as the world changed.
Look at Route 66 in Puerto Santiago. It thrives even though it’s in not a particularly busy area with AI hotels all around it because it offers something different. It’s a good bar with great music.
Tenerife’s new president, Carlos Alonso, said something interesting recently when asked about the impact of AI. His reply was more or less that Tenerife was reacting to demand. And that demand was coming from holidaymakers and tour operators in places like Britain.
He’s absolutely right. Tenerife isn’t responsible for a rise in AI. To not give people that option would be to send them elsewhere.
Then there’s the rise of luxury hotels. For a long time I’ve wondered about the attraction of luxury hotels on Tenerife. Historically Tenerife hasn’t been a darling of the luxury end of the tourist market.
But having stayed in a few over the last couple of years, the light bulb finally switched on in my head. The attraction of these 5 star palaces isn’t necessarily the destination. With their imaginative architectural designs, first class service, exquisite rooms from the pages of Conde Nast Traveler, tropical grounds and gourmet gastronomy, the hotels themselves are the attraction.
And these days they’re up there with the best. People choose exotic destinations all over the world because the hotel seduces them. Why should Tenerife be any different?
For plenty of visitors resorts act as a base from which to explore Tenerife.
However, if purpose-built resort, all inclusive accommodation or luxury resort doesn’t ring your travelling preference bell, there’s always that other place. You know… the real Tenerife. There’s a lot more of it than people who don’t know the island might think.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+