Golf and gastronomic wonders in Tenerife
'I love Tenerife don't you? It's just like going home. But warmer.'
This was the overheard testimony of two senior English tourists as a Norwegian Airlines jet hurtled towards this hugely popular destination.
It’s a curious statement considering the largest of the Canary Islands are just a few booming drives away from Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Brits love Tenerife and it’s easy to see why, the sun, sea and sangria are plentiful and the culture-shock is virtually non-existent.
An average annual temperature of 23ºC, and 3,000 hours of sunlight per year, are two very persuasive reasons to visit but the island offers far more than guaranteed sun.
A surfeit of luxury accommodation and some cracking courses have helped contribute to its burgeoning reputation as a golfing destination.
In recent years an abundance of superb four and five-star hotels have sprung up in the south of the island and have formed close relationships with nine well-established golf courses.
The courses offer something for all standards of golfers, from scratch and single-handicappers to municipal course triers keen on a few very cilvilised sun-drenched rounds (the category which is closest to home for this writer).
All nine clubs work together with 17 of the aforementioned hotels and offer a top-class service for holidaying golfers.
We kicked off a short trip to the island with lunch and an afternoon round at Golf Costa Adeje.
The course is particularly popular with the lucky Brits who live in Tenerife during the winter months, when winter is winter in name only, and offers a an 18-hole and nine-hole golf course,
After the rainy gloom of Gatwick, lunch on the chilled-out course-facing terrace was heaven-sent.
The high-end buffet-style restaurant has a relaxed and welcoming vibe, and is a hit with locals and visitors alike.
I loved the local dish of bacalao, salted cod, and enjoyed the first of a few absurdly-refreshing glasses of Dorado, a likeable local cerveza brewed in the north of the island in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
We took the the 18-hole option - a picturesque and palm tree-lined treat, and a great introduction to the island’s golf.
Like the majority of Tenerife’s courses it was formerly a banana plantation and some of the plantation’s original wallstones are integrated into the course.
The fourth hole is a real standout, featuring an infinity green and the first of many of the island’s many vista-filling sea views.
We ably attempted to complete this attractive and very playable course but were defeated by lengthening shadows and an increasingly irate buggy sat-nav, which implored us to stop squinting in the dark, and we eventually retired to the welcoming clubhouse for another Dorado.
Our base for the four-day trip was the Jardin Tropical Hotel, set on the seafront of Costa Adeje with magnificent views of the Atlantic and the island of La Gomera, (which we would visit the following day).
The Arabesque-inspired four-star luxury hotel has undergone a major refurbishment, including an interior revamp overseen by award-winning Barcelona-based designer Jaime Beriestain.
But what really sets the hotel apart is peerless service for visiting golfers.
It offers a golf lounge with staff dedicated to making life easier for golfers, who can make reservations and book tee times on all the golf courses in the island, and a team of golf professionals to give you experts tips on getting around those courses.
The 390-room hotel is also a wonderful destination for foodies.
It includes one of the most outstanding Argentine steakhouses in the Canary Islands, authentic Italian cuisine, and divine fresh seafood at Restaurante Las Rocas,
We were fortunate to dine at the latter and even luckier to be treated to the chef’s inventive and fairly wonderful seven-course seafood taster menu.
The food served on the elegant sea-facing terrace was flawless and worthy of the fine dining tag.
An astonishingly good trio of seafood tartare (prawn, tuna and salmon) was unquestionably the highlight, but a hearty, yet devishly refined dish of octopus with black potatoes was also worth the 2,000-mile journey,
The next golf course we visited was the wonderful mountain-side Tecina Golf on the nearby island of La Gomera.
Just a short ferry ride and a mountain drive away away from Costa Adeje, Tecina is a genuinely fun course with the USP of spectacular sights on every single hole.
It begins atop a 175m electric buggy ride (or shuttle bus if you feel the urge to walk the course) and winds its way down taking in some spectacular panoramic views over the Atlantic to the ever-imposing Mount Tiede, Tenerife’s volcanic peak.
It’s a course which puts a smile on your face and makes you reach for your camera almost as often as your clubs,
In addition to the constant stream of awe-inspiring natural landscapes the course was teeming with wildlife, most notably a kestrel which watched us make our way down to the 10th green following some leap of faith tee-shots into the azure.
The 19th hole proved to be another serene location and the Dorados and tapas flowed freely.
Course director Primos Pusnik said golfers often played a single round and then returned for a longer stay at the adjacent Hotel Jardín Tecina, which seems like a perfeclty sensible decision to make.
The resort is billed as an oasis of silence and is surrounded by 70,000 square metres of lush gardens.
It is a hotel which integrates into the environment and blends in perfectly to an island regarded as the most unspoilt of the Canary Islands and declared a World Heritage Site in 2012.
Back on Tenerife we dined by the sea once more, this time at five-star family hotel the Iberostar Anthalia in Costa Adeje.
The hotel is another one for gastronomic golfers (what other type are there?) and has a hard-earned reputation for fine dining, international cuisine and traditional Canarian dishes.
On a warm November evening the seaside setting was ideal and the seafood was again as close to perfect as made no difference.
Bowls of Gambas Pil Pil (juicy, fat prawns served in a hot olive oil, sizzling garlic and chilli) were followed by mussels, Spanish cheeses, and some amazing char-grilled octopus, and they were just the starters...
A titanic turbot accompanied by Canarian potatoes and local mojo sauce (made from paprika, olive oil, vinegar, cumin, garlic and chili) was as super as sounds, and topped only by the scene-stealing pudding of Bienmesabe - a Canarian almond desert which was richer than most Russian oligarchs.
The hotel also offers a similar bespoke service for golfers who’ll have every need catered for, every tee time booked, and every question answered.
In golfing terms the real jewel in Tenerife’s crown is the Ritz-Carlton Abama.
This immaculate course is part of an exclusive five-star cliff-top resort carved from the southern slopes of Mount Tiede volcano.
It’s a stunning but challenging course which is meticulously tended by a team of 16 greenkeepers, and boy does it show.
Perfectly-spiralling raked white sand bunkers dot the verdant fairways amid 25,000 palm trees, waterfalls, and 22 lakes.
It’s an elite-standard experience which will stay with you long after your last shot in the sunshine.
The perfectly manicured greens feel like a dream underfoot, and always turn towards the sea,
They are fast and demanding but never unfair or infuriating.
It’s definitely no stroll in the parque (and at times was a little above my skill set) but good or bad you’ll relish all 18 holes.
The premium standard of the course is reflected throughout the resort of The Ritz-Carlton, an oasis of luxury, which boasts its own sheltered golden sands beach.
A total of 461 newly refurbished rooms and suites include 148 villas set apart from the main hotel, and each group of villas has its own private pool overlooking the sea.
There is also a row of luxury rooms and suites within the villas reserved for adults.
Another option for people keen to stay in a villa, without sacrificing any luxury, is the Hotel Suite Villa Maria.
The five-star resort’s 78 villas all have private gardens (some with hot tubs), inspired by Canarian architecture, but are all different and avoid a uniform style.
They have breathtaking views overlooking mountains and the Atlantic, and Los Lagos golf course, Golf Costa Adeje’s nine-hole par 33 golf course.
Golf Las Américas was a great final course to enjoy at the end of the trip.
After the challenges of Abama it was a change of tone to complete nine holes at this very likeable course in Playa de Las Americas.
Described by one of our group as the ‘perfect holiday course’, it’s as charming and welcoming as its club professional James Ferraby, who posed for a quick snap with our group.
The club is in the heart of the bustling resort Playa de Las Americas but is remarkably tranquil and crafted into a natural amphitheatre with trees and shrubs acting as a screen from surrounding noise and bright lights.
It’s very playable but by no means a pushover.
There are streams, ravines and lakes aplenty on the course and the veranda of the impressive colonial-style clubhouse is a fantastic place to rest your studded-soles after a round.
Hotel Las Madrigueras is just a buggy-ride away from Golf Las Américas, and indeed that’s how the hotel’s residents make their way to the course, straight from an underground car park at Las Madrigueras. Very civilised.
The exclusive five-star establishment is a the top end of the market. It has a rarefied atmosphere, from the beautifully-fragranced reception area, to the impeccably tasteful interiors of the hotel’s 44 superior rooms and 13 suites.
We tasted some tremendous tapas in the serene surroundings of this peaceful adult-only hotel and time drifted by in the afternoon sun.
After days of enticing sea-views and eating our way through most of Tenerife’s sea-life, it was a treat to move from terra firma to the deep blue yonder.
Tenerife is a marvellous place for a spot of whale-spotting and for a reasonable price you can take to the seas in a yacht and check out the cetaceans.
It’s not only the Brits who are fond of Tenerife’s gorgeous temperatures.
The warm seas, volcanic dip and abundance of giant squid to feed on make it the ideal sub-tropical spot for whales.
An engaging father and son two-man crew, whose enthuasiasm for the island’s wildlife was infectious, used their expertise to locate a pod of pilot whales.
It will surprise few people to hear that it was a magical experience to see these magnificent creatures at sea, and I was almost as happy to see them as I was seeing a fairway shot land safely on the green of an especially tricky hole at Abama. Almost.
A three-night golf break at the five-star Hotel Suite Villa Maria, based on two people sharing a one-bedroom villa, including buffet breakfast, with two rounds of golf at Golf Costa Adeje Championship course, costs from €1,248 (€624 per person).
A three-night golf break at the five-star Las Madrigueras Golf Resort & Spa, including breakfast, one evening dinner at the Bogey restaurant, a 25-minute golfer’s massage, use of the spa facilities, two green fees at Golf Las Americas, and one golf buggy per room, costs from €499 per person, based on two sharing a superior double room.
A three-night golf break at the five-star Ritz-Carlton, Abama, based on double occupancy of a deluxe room with resort view, including daily buffet breakfast, use of the gym, one water circuit at the spa, and one green fee at Abama Golf – inclusive of shared buggy and use of driving range – costs from €595 per person.
A three-night B&B golf break at the five-star Hotel Jardin Tropical, based on two sharing a double room, costs from €593 per person, and includes one green fee at Abama Golf and one at either of Golf del Sur, Amarilla Golf or Costa Adeje.
A three-night B&B golf break at the five-star Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa, based on two sharing a double room, costs from €386 per person, and includes a round of golf at each of Golf Costa Adeje and Américas Golf.
For a memorable sea trip and a chance to see some pilot whales and/or dolphins get in touch with Roulette Charters - visit www.roulettecharters.com and email [email protected]
And for everything you’ll need to know about golfing trip to Tenerife, go to www.webtenerife.com/tenerifegolf/