We sat on our terrace-sized wooden balcony lapping up the heady scent of the pines that surrounded us. Dusk was falling, creating soft lilac streaks above the forest canopy and the lights around the Hotel Spa Villalba’s gardens illuminated paths meandering to a barranco in the forest and around the grounds. A young French couple had taken the opportunity to go for a pre-dinner stroll and walked hand in hand through the forest. The girl was dressed in a rather chic and sexy, figure-hugging dress and her golden skin glowed under the gaze of the soft lighting. Andy watched her stroll gracefully along the paths then looked down at her jeans and t-shirt for a second before announcing.
“Hmm…I think I’ll change into something a bit more sophisticated for dinner.”
We’ve wanted to stay at the Hotel Spa Villalba in Vilaflor for years and last week the opportunity arose. A week’s half board holiday at the hotel is the latest prize in Tenerife Magazine and being dedicated to our jobs, we wouldn’t dream of putting up a prize if we couldn’t tell people exactly what to expect.
Of course also being walkers, a stay in a place like the Hotel Spa Villalba is right up our street…or in this case along our pista. Vilaflor, one of our favourite towns on Tenerife, has a personality that is at a complete contrast with the Tenerife that many people think they know. It’s almost alpine in its setting amidst the forest, the townspeople are incredibly friendly and there are a couple of excellent restaurants in the town.
The Hotel Spa Villalba sits above the town in a commanding and exquisite position overlooking the potato terraces that characterise this area of Tenerife. Walking into the hotel’s lobby for the first time doesn’t disappoint; it’s exactly as I would want a rural hotel sitting on the edge of the pine forest to be. The colour scheme is warm and welcoming, the décor suitably rustic but also contemporary at the same time and sunlight streams through a floor to ceiling window decorated with stained glass panels. I think the first thing I did was to sigh with pleasure – it just felt warm, welcoming and friendly. Our experiences over the three days we were there didn’t change that first impression.
Andy’s written a review of the hotel for Tenerife Magazine so I won’t cover the same ground as she does it much better than me anyway, but I will add that I adore the style of the hotel. The owners also run the Hotel Reverón Plaza in Los Cristianos. In my book the Reverón Plaza is one of the nicest resort hotels on Tenerife with bags of individual panache and a family friendliness. The Hotel Spa Villalba is in exactly the same vein; oozing style, charm and with a cosy part-of-the-family ambience.
Because of its location I expected that it would be popular mainly with walkers. However, after a couple of hours of getting to know the grounds, lounges and spa (especially the spa) I realised that whilst it was the ideal base for anyone wanting to enjoy some walking on Tenerife (especially in the crater and the southern hills) it is also a spot that clearly brings a warm glow to the hearts (see that as a euphemism if you like) of hopeless romantics.
Amongst our fellow guests were the stylish young French couple whose hands were glued together and two separate young Spanish couples who found it hard to leave the warm comfort of the spa facilities – at the Hotel Spa Villalba you get the double bonus of being able to lounge about in your swimsuit as well as getting up close and personal with nature. It’s also a hotel where you can simply chill out; the thirty-something British couple in the room next to us seemed to spend all their time sitting in the sunshine on their balcony reading.
There were hikers as well of course and over breakfast I chatted with a group of Germans who were taking their time to explore the area on foot and by car. Then there were those who simply were addicted to one of the most peacefully enchanting spots you’ll find on Tenerife. The feeling of complete and total relaxation helped by hotel staff who, from director and receptionist to waiting staff, all have genuine smiles permanently fixed to their faces. All the guests I spoke to praised the hotel to the high heavens.
No wonder. The hotel is sophisticated, the food in the restaurant is creative, the spa is modern and sexy and yet at the same time the Villalba feels like a rural and rustic retreat from the hustle and bustle. If romance doesn’t blossom here forget it, you’ve got the wrong partner.
After spending our days exploring Vilaflor and the surrounding countryside on foot and then giving aching muscles a treat at the spa before dinner, we didn’t want to leave and vowed to return – a spa after a long walk is a newly discovered and addictive pleasure.
The winner of the Tenerife Magazine competition is in for a wonderful treat and a very different Tenerife experience. I hope they’re a walker, or have a soul laced with romance… or, even better, both.