The impressive structure of Los Gigantes Hotel looks lost and out of place perched uneasily atop a deserted Tenerife promontory.
But that photograph is over forty years old and it now takes pride of place behind the reception of the recently renovated luxury hotel, which remains the focal point of this west coast region that is unrecognisable from when the picture was taken.
In fact, there was no town until the hotel arrived and now Los Gigantes is a very populated area with hotels and apartments stretching all the way up and around the adjacent hills.
After checking in and while en route to my room, I could tell that I was not housed on the ocean side of the hotel, however, the bright, clean and calming bedroom immediately offered the tranquillity that I was hoping for on this post-summer excursion in search of some much needed winter sunshine.
The spacious balcony offered a pleasant hillside vista, with a twist, as I was surprised by the spectacular Moher-esque cliffs that appeared to prop up the town with the dark blue Atlantic waters lapping against the sheer rock face.
The hotel, while grand and impressive from the front, is very focused to the ocean side – and rightly so – as the huge external area is dominated by the main swimming pool, bordered by glass and overlooking the craggy coastline.
There is a very good chance that you might not leave the confines of the hotel throughout your visit to Los Gigantes such are the facilities available combined with the range of daily activities planned to entertain the guests.
As well as the hotel’s two swimming pools, the sunbathing area boasts Balinese sunbeds in the gardens, a pool bar, gym, tennis courts, table tennis tables and a full-size snooker table.
Days are to be enjoyed at your own pace, whether lounging in the glorious sunshine, swimming in the sea-water pool or partaking in one of the many on-site activities.
While there is a no kids policy at the hotel, the main pool area can still prove quite noisy with the tannoy-led events, or the gaggle of your near neighbours in a pool area where, when busy, space can be at a premium.
The alternative is to take a little stroll down to the quiet pool, where you will get the required tranquillity with the lap of the ocean providing the perfect soundtrack to your lazy afternoon.
For an added spot of pampering, the hotel’s Spa area is a great option, especially if a stray dull day arrives unannounced, as there are a range of massage options to choose from before making use of the excellent facilities including the whirlpool bath, rain shower, sauna, and Spa circuit.
If you can muster up the enthusiasm to leave the hotel for the day, there are many excursions available, most notably a visit to El Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, where a ten-minute cable car journey will have you at 3550m from where you can climb the remaining 150-odd metres to the summit.
Other excursions that can be arranged from the hotel include a range of very popular boat trips, watersport activities and a visit to the Siam Park waterpark, which is one of the most highly rated theme parks in Europe.
Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz is located at the opposite end of the island but is highly recommended if you can afford a couple of days away from the resort, while the nearby San Cristóbal de la Laguna is the cultural capital of Tenerife and a UNESCO World Heritage site, as it is a non-fortified colonial town.
The beaches in close proximity to Los Gigantes are certainly not listed amongst the most aesthetic of the Spanish collection as the volcanic terrain gives the sand a black hue. However, the island does have some picturesque white sand beaches, most notably Playa de Las Teresitas, which is located just outside the capital Santa Cruz.
Closer to Los Gigantes, Puerto De La Cruz, to the north of the island, has many fantastic outdoor bars and beautiful restaurants and is home to the spectacular Martiánez Pools, designed by the Canary Islands’ most famous architect César Manrique.
One of the highlights of my stay at Los Gigantes was enjoying a pre-dinner drink at the open-air hotel bar watching the sun set behind the adjacent island of La Gomera, as the darkening sky seemed to run through the entire spectrum of colours.
All half-board and full-board guests enjoy complimentary dinner at the hotel, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet, while a chef cooks to order the fish of the day as well as the obligatory meat options.
The fish selections really were first class throughout the week, while the dessert cart varied every evening, proving a fine finish to the veritable feast.
The downside of the dining experience was that the buffet was the only option available to guests in the evening, so the eating-out experience is effectively lost amidst the clatter of the open-plan area, where waiter service is non-existent apart from an early drinks order.
The buffet scenario will suit many people and has its positives as you will spend a lot less on your vacation, however, dining out is always an essential part of any holiday, so the hotel could really do with a couple of á la carte options, which would give a much more varied and interesting gastronomic experience.
So taking a night or two off the buffet will cost you a few quid, but it also gives you reason to get out and about in the evening to take a look around the quaint village of Los Gigantes.
Quality dining options are few and far between as many restaurants are unwilling to go up against the all-inclusive hotels of the region, however, Tamara is less than a five-minute walk from the hotel and offers a fine Italian style menu with superb pizzas and tasty pastas. The restaurant enjoys a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere with excellent service to match the fine food.
Los Gigantes is definitely aimed at people who are looking for a quiet and relaxing holiday and nightlife in these parts caters for a very acquired taste and will not please every palate.
The hotel does put on a professional show every night in the ballroom area but if a Michael Bublé tribute act is not your thing, you may have to go searching elsewhere for a night out of choice. It must be said however, the Beatles tribute act at the hotel was very impressive, despite the dodgy wigs and Spanglish-Scouse accents.
There are only a handful of pubs in Los Gigantes and again, the very ordinary cabaret acts may not be to your liking.
Highland Paddy’s is the token Irish bar, which is great for football with a plethora of screens showing different matches, although the karaoke that follows is enough to make you opt for an early night.
The village of Puerto de Santiago sits about 400 metres from Los Gigantes.
Well that distance would be as the crow flies as there is the small matter of what is known locally as Cardiac Hill to negotiate, which takes about fifteen minutes at a very leisurely pace where gradient proves a rather effective conversation killer.
Five minutes and a lot of effort can be saved by taking the short cut over the cliff steps, which any local will point out, and a younger crowd will be found hanging around the excellent Route 66 bar, which offers decent rock and roll live acts every night.
The local discothèque will see you into the early hours and enjoys a nice mix of tourists and locals, especially at the weekend.
Real nightowls might need to venture further afield to get their holiday fix by taking the 30-kilometre trek into the renowned Las Americas where you can party hard until first light.
Taxis into Las Americas from Los Gigantes cost around €35, while a local bus will get you there a lot cheaper, albeit by taking the scenic route.
But to be honest, a holiday at Hotel Las Gigantes is all about relaxing and enjoying the day time, and we were blessed with seven days of almost uninterrupted sunshine, while many parts of the island were shrouded in heavy dark clouds.
There appears to be a micro climate in these parts and a day spent relaxing at this spectacular cliff-side hotel with its wide range of interesting and breathtaking panoramic vistas really is as good as it gets.
Los Gigantes is part of Thomson Holidays Couples range, which is a collection of contemporary 4 and 5 star properties that are exclusive to adults and are strictly child free.
A Thomson Couples holiday staying at the 4T+ Hotel Los Gigantes for 7 nights with half board, based on 2 sharing costs €639pp departing in January 2014 or €799pp departing in May 2014. Flights to Tenerife depart from Dublin Airport.
To book or for more information call, 1850 45 35 45, visit www.thomsonholidays.ie or contact your local Falcon Travel Shop or Travel Agent.