The Canary Islands, Spain’s tropical archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, are where Brits, Irish and Northern Europeans tend to escape when they want a quick dash to a place they can pretty much guarantee year-round sunshine.
With spectacular sand dunes, dramatic volcanic landscapes and enchanting pine forests, Gran Canaria is one of the most diverse islands in the group — and the Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort’s offerings are as varied as its location.
As you ascend the steep, meandering drive and look up at the dramatic piece of architecture that is the Sheraton Gran Canaria, you realise that you are in for something special. When they take this much care with the exterior, you just know that a lot of thought will have gone into the interior too. And it has; this beautifully designed property melts into its surroundings, sitting serenely on the mountainside like it is a part of it.
The way the resort operates is just as subtle — it is understated luxury. This isn’t a brash, all-singing, all-dancing hotel (in fact, there is very little singing or dancing). The kids’ club is low-key and the entertainment programme is pretty much nonexistent. For parents and kids who hate being hassled by that perma-smile team found at many holiday resorts, this is the place.
Rooms are contemporary in style and very spacious. Many of the default family rooms are actually two interconnecting rooms with two bathrooms and separate seating areas and balconies, so families really have room to spread out. There are several luxury self-catering villas on the resort that have largely been sold off, but the hotel still has ownership of a couple that it rents out.
If you’re staying in the main hotel, be warned: The design of the buildings means you may have to take more than one elevator ride or flight of steps to reach a pool or restaurant, which could be annoying with a pushchair or very young children.
The resort is isolated and there are no other restaurants within walking distance, but there are several very good restaurants onsite. Gofio offers a substantial buffet with a different theme daily; the Chameleon’s speciality is traditional Spanish tapas. La Palmera is a lovely setting for poolside meals, and the Perenquen is the most formal venue, with a creative selection of Spanish and modern European dishes. Children are welcome in all and a reasonably healthy children’s menu is on offer too.
Whilst the organised activities are minimal, there is plenty to keep the whole family busy from morning until night. A series of beautiful swimming pools flow into each other from different levels of the resort. This means that even when the hotel is full, the pool areas never feel crowded, and it shouldn’t be any trouble to find a good pitch on any of the sun decks. There is a secret, unpublicised swimming pool that you can hunt for as well; if you succeed, you’ll probably have it all to yourselves.
There is a particularly spectacular adults-only pool right on the top of the hotel, with views over the mountains and the coast. It’s worth dropping the kids into the kids’ club for an hour or so of art or games whilst you enjoy this. The spa pool is quite something too. The spa itself was being renovated when we were there, but it looked like it was going to be rather lovely. Oh, and don’t miss a trip to the top floor to walk out to the mountain top and enjoy the sunset from one of the Balinese beds.
I will admit it — I actively tried to shield my children’s eyes from the huge billboards advertising the local waterpark as we exited the airport, but somehow they got wind of it. Aqualand did turn out to be a lot of fun. I could have floated around the lazy river all day, but flying down just one of the many water slides was enough to put me off a repeat performance. Everyone else went back for more, though!
The sand dunes are great too explore too, but go before the sands get too hot. Then there are boat rides, whale and dolphin spotting trips and watersports to try out.
Golf is very big here; there are two impressive golf courses and children are very welcome to get involved. We had the most fun just hiring out one of the golf buggies and pootling off around the resort, however. There’s also a football field, bike rentals and a gym.
A very regular, free shuttle bus takes guests down to the hotel’s little beach club, which has a splash pool and changing facilities. It’s a two-minute walk from the shops and restaurants of Maspalomas and the miles of golden sandy beaches, along with their infamous sand dunes.
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Editor’s Note: Photos by Anna Tobin except where noted.
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