Why Gran Canaria is perfect for a winter holiday

Name’s received very little whatever to do with birds,’ suggests the only other Englishman at the Grand Lodge Residencia, Maspalomas. He is obviously an authority on the Canary Islands.

‘Theo darling, you really do not know for certain,’ replies his spouse, Annabel, active FaceTiming her grandchildren back in Wiltshire. Her pores and skin is the color of teak.

‘Yes, I do. Mistranslation of Pliny. He was writing about sea lions. Canis. Canaries. Pet dogs, d’you see?’ And Theo returns to his crossword puzzle.

Vibrant and stunning: Las Palmas’s stunning houses. The metropolis attributes complete streets of fantastic 19th-century architecture

The Isles of Happiness, the Romans named them. Canine, sealions, whichever, the Canary Islands marked the conclusion of their acknowledged environment. A penal colony, certainly, but a extremely lengthy time ago.

Some 60 miles off the coast of Africa, this unlikely volcanic archipelago — there is a volcano erupting on the island of La Palma suitable now — has remained one particular wintertime escape nevertheless legitimately available. A small Covid charge, and rigorous monitoring, have spared the worst.

You can come below. You ought to.

Scraping at the unforgiving soil, Antonio the lodge gardener conjures miracles from black gravel. ‘Ah, but is absorbent. Releases drinking water sluggish-slowly.’ He is very pleased to get pleasure from what meteorologists deem ‘the most effective climate in the world’. Tempered by the trade winds, the yr-round sunshine keeps the thermometer in the regular, dry mid-20s (or mid-70s in outdated cash).

The Grand Residencia is Gran Canaria’s only five-star seaside lodge that remained open for the duration of the pandemic. Owned by rich Germans, it stands discreetly in Antonio’s dramatic yard of palm trees (symbol of the Canary Islands) and tall and spiky candelabra cactus.

Gorgeous by working day or night time, it sets a gold normal in heedless luxurious. Bed room suites are generous, their non-public terraces overlooking the stunning pool, and with whirlpool baths which at the push of a button burst into a giddy underwater gentle clearly show. The parrot-prints are no inside designer’s cliche, not when macaws and parakeets are shrieking outdoors.

The Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia (pictured above) 'sets a gold standard in heedless luxury', according to Kit

The Seaside Grand Resort Residencia (pictured previously mentioned) ‘sets a gold common in heedless luxury’, according to Package

My guideline, the vivacious Maria, is a Jane Austen fan. She states that the British ended up coming to the island extended just before the 1970s — 19th-century medical doctors advised wintering below, establishing tourism considerably as we did at Awesome and St Moritz. ‘You gave us Spanglish. Our phrase for cake is queque, and for potatoes, quinegua. Quinegua, King Edward: did you get it?’

In 1891, the British had been kind ample to endow Gran Canaria with golf, and though locals derided the English activity of football, it is now central to their society. Equally Antonio and I guidance Norwich. Canaries. Of course. 

Maria and I envision poke-bonneted Englishwomen tripping together the cobblestones of Las Palmas, the island’s beautiful outdated Spanish colonial money. Whole streets of high-quality 19th-century architecture are enlivened by balconies of carved Canarian pine, the fire-resistant, triple-needled species from the island’s high-peaked centre identified as ‘milker of the clouds’ for its rain-generating abilities.

Late-Victorian British retailers were being below in these kinds of quantities that Alfonso XIII — whose predecessors experienced dominated the islands since Spain’s 15th-century conquest — became worried that Britain had quietly included Gran Canaria to her own empire. He arrived to see what was going on. Legend has it that the agreement-awarding mayor was acquiring a scandalous affair with the madame of the neighborhood brothel. She correctly distracted His Majesty, who departed none the wiser.

The good yellow hotel in which the king dallied is nevertheless there in the Old Town. Subsequent doorway, beside a fairly opera household, stands the monastery of St Francis. ‘From there,’ says Maria, ‘the 1st banana was exported to the Caribbean. Yes, it was that way spherical. It was a Considerably Japanese fruit.’

Kit reveals that the cathedral of Santa Ana, pictured above, 'presides serenely over a square as decorous as any in Bath'

Package reveals that the cathedral of Santa Ana, pictured previously mentioned, ‘presides serenely over a sq. as decorous as any in Bath’

The original port in Las Palmas was replaced by a public garden known as Doramas Park (pictured above)

The initial port in Las Palmas was changed by a community backyard acknowledged as Doramas Park (pictured previously mentioned)

KNOW Right before YOU GO

  • You ought to possibly have evidence of currently being totally vaccinated or a detrimental PCR Covid examination taken inside 72 several hours of travel or a unfavorable antigen test taken inside of 48 hrs of vacation when viewing Gran Canaria (beneath 12s exempt).
  • You will also be essential to finish a Spanish Well being Variety (spth.gob.es).
  • Even further information on Canary Island entry necessities at hellocanaryislands.com.
  • The Canary Islands are at present on the ‘amber’ vacation record. This indicates people who are double-jabbed need to have to ebook and consider a PCR examination on ‘day two’ of returning to the Uk. A Passenger Locator Type need to also be accomplished before returning dwelling and an antigen examination taken with proof of a detrimental result prior to traveling back. These regulations will commence to be comfortable from Oct 4. See gov.british isles.


The unique port, harmful and malodorous, was changed by a general public back garden, Doramas Park, the place now stands a heartbreaking monument to the island’s aboriginal Berbers. Targets for slave traders from Roman occasions onwards, they would leap into the Bandama, the large dormant volcanic crater, instead than endure captivity.

The neoclassical front of Santa Ana, the island’s cathedral, presides serenely in excess of a square as decorous as any in Tub. At the rear of it, Columbus’s Property is stone-flagged, with a awesome inside patio and absorbing exhibition galleries. For Columbus, the Canaries ended up a departure position for the New Globe. His fleet is said to have taken on new water from La Charca de Maspalomas, the southern lagoon, as even now do the flocks of collared doves embarking upon their personal migrations. (Maspalomas, as I’m sure Theo is familiar with, suggests ‘more doves’).

Now a protected reserve, the lagoon marks the entrance to the stupendous golden dunes which prolong for a few miles across to Playa del Ingles.

On the candlelit balcony beside the lagoon, the gourmet evening meal served nightly at the Grand Residencia is of a standard seemingly impossible on a remote island. German dishes — apfelstrudel and prinzregententorte — sit curiously beside the exquisitely introduced indigenous fare. Check out the nearby catches barbecued stone bass, langostino souffle, or the speckle-skinned corvina: not some unholy hybrid of Covid and corona, but a sweet-fleshed fish reminiscent in flavour of turbot.

There are imported German wines, but the local wines, sniffed at by some for their igneous tang, are superior price: Gran Mogaren Valsequillo quaffed beautifully.

Community cheeses are inclined to be of goat or ewes’ milk. Neighbouring Fuerteventura produces a mild and creamy selection which, jointly with cumin-stuffed courgettes, reminds one particular that Morocco is just outside of the horizon.

By day, visitors soak up the sunlight about the pool, their every whim attended by silent workers. A handful of Germans venture to the nearby seashore, to perform canasta in the nude. They are so sunburned as to resemble the Mulberry right away bags in the duty-no cost malls all-around the Faro: the lighthouse at the conclude of the environment. What I really like most effective is the spa complicated, special to resort attendees. A thermal mineral pool shoots jets of bubbles all around sightseers’ weary limbs.

Gran Canaria is back in organization. At the market in Las Palmas, Jose’s tapas bar Piscos & Buches is open up once again for cochino negro (black pig) and queso con marmaladia (cheese with pimento jam).

The great agave-stalks are getting reduce as Christmas trees. On Las Palmas seaside, the extensive, sand-sculptured crib is less than preparing: the only problem being politically proper responses to the figure of Joseph. Final calendar year, tuts Maria, he attracted disapproval for not undertaking his reasonable share of transforming Baby Jesus’s nappies.

Composer Camille Saint-Saens, whose statue guards the Outdated Town, arrived below incognito from Paris to escape own tribulations. Listening to a grand piano played from a Belle Epoch balcony, he fell underneath the spell of its player, Dona Candelaria, and wrote for her the Valse Canariote. Leonard Bernstein, it is reported, composed significantly of West Aspect Tale even though on the island.

I, way too, am a musician. Soon after dinner, more than a glass of guajiro — the area honey-rum liqueur — I find the Canarian folk-singing of Nolle Ortega inexpressibly shifting. Despite getting to sing by way of a confront mask, her sweet, pure soprano, accompanied by the 5-string timple — a area kind of ukulele — comforts me hugely. ‘Even caged,’ she claims, her eyes smiling, ‘the canary will go on singing.’

My spending budget will not extend to a further week at the Grand Residencia, but definitely I can bounce a handful of balconies? So, Playa del Ingles, you’d better get this celebration began. I’m being on in the Isles of Joy.

Vacation Specifics

Sovereign Luxurious Vacation (sovereign.com) has a seven-night B&B remain at the Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia from £2,069pp, which includes personal transfers, airport lounge obtain and return flights from London Gatwick. Based mostly on January 19, 2022 departure. Additional info, grancanaria.com.

Supply backlink