TRAVEL REVIEW: A Lanzarote ‘honeymoon’

Lanzarote, Playa Blanca, Princesa Yaiza hotel'EB
Lanzarote, Playa Blanca, Princesa Yaiza hotel'EB
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CHOP! A piece of Japanese omelette flew through the air.

It soared from the chef at the tepenyaki grill, just missing my mouth, and a table of Spanish holidaymakers burst into laughter.

This was the surprising last night of our stay at the five-star luxury Princesa Yaiza hotel in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.

Saki, brilliant tuna and scallop sashimi, chopsticks, we expected all those at the distinctive hotel’s restaurant Kampai.

But we hadn’t bargained for the chef’s entertainment element which bonded the table together as friends and created a truly memorable final evening.

Unexpected, in a word, describes the entire holiday.

Having always stayed self-catering, eating out every night, we were uneasy about having a half-board provision even for three days.

That British tradition of getting value from inclusive meals – versus experiencing the ‘real’ side of a place by venturing out to dine – is always a difficult line to tread.

Yet the cuisine was one of the most fabulous things about Princesa Yaiza.

Quite frankly, there was no need to leave. Ever.

From the second we walked into the spectacular lobby and were offered champagne, to the suckling pig enjoyed in top restaurant Isla De Lobos and Canarian specialities at breakfast, the food was gourmet all the way.

There were even chocolates on the pillows and a complimentary bottle of cava in the suite fridge on arrival to truly kick start the holiday vibe.

When we did drag ourselves away we discovered why people flock to the Canaries, Lanzarote, and its jewel Playa Blanca, each year.

Just seconds away from the from the hotel is the front, the beach and a fantastic cocktail bar overlooking the sea which we visited every night to drink under the stars.

Playa Blanca town, with its traditional tavernas serving sea-fresh specialities like dorada fish, is a short stroll to your right and the fairly new Rubicon marina of upmarket restaurants a ten-minute walk to the left.

Explore a little further and it won’t be long before the history of Lanzarote comes to life.

The Martian landscape looked a tad unwelcoming at first, especially while winding the way to the southern tip of the island by taxi, but it belies a fascinating past of volcanic origin. Eruptions in the 18th and 19th centuries have left a legacy of lunar-looking lands which constrast starkly with the white sands of Playa Blanca.

The island is eruption-free now but any jaunt to the Timafaya National Park – on one of the many excursions available in every resort – includes a demonstration where cold water is poured into the ground and hot water shoots out.

It is also mandatory to visit the bustling Teguise market, where traders barter to sell everything from jewellery to Aloe vera products made with the island-grown plant seen in virtually every shop. And the Jameos del Agua - part of a volcanic cave system formed by eruptions four thousand years ago, now a centre of art, culture and tourism, is a place of wonder and tiny crabs hidden in its lagoon waters.

While there is a world of things to do, Playa Blanca, at the most southerly tip of the island, focuses far more on relaxation than exploration.

Billed as the ‘sophisticated’ side of Lanzarote, much building work has taken place there in the past ten years, but all is now complete.

The resort is known for its fresh seafood, exhilarating spa treatments and beautiful beaches. A world away from egg-and-chips and nightclubs.

There are a wide range of watersports available on the beach, and a thrilling jet-ski ride on the waves gave me jaw-dropping views of the resort, but that was as adventurous as it got pursuit-wise.

It was hard to do anything but relax and let down those work-weary shoulders, and the hotel certainly made that part incredibly easy. The elegant suite had an ocean-view balcony, overlooking a seawater pool, decadent bathroom and a mini kitchen with all facilities rather than a mini bar.

Little wonder perhaps that our wide, ever-present smiles, caused people to treat us as – and call us – honeymooners.

The Princesa Yaiza hotel – a nod to the picturesque small town of Yaiza nearby, which miraculously escaped destruction by molten lava – celebrates its tenth birthday next year. It has made great efforts to fit in with the local aspect in every sense. The innovative decor is all indoor plants, white walls, volcanic rock and natural wood.

Near the three buffet restaurants is an internal garden, with high ceilings and a stream curling around sofas where diners can unwind with a drink from the hotel bar.

We were invited to dine in Isla de Lobos – which overlooks the sea and has fantastic views of Fuerteventura – for breakfast as a special treat.

Cava, silver service, and a three-course start to the day was out-of-this-world.

But we also tried the buffet option, which was less formal but no less satisfying or tasty.

Although we don’t have children they are catered for fully at the hotel which has its own fun-filled paradise play park for kids in a separate little island – not something you often find alongside a spa of relaxing treatments.

While we were a world away from the stress, rain and complaints of home, we still managed to find a tiny connection to it.

It wasn’t Henderson’s Relish in the dining room – despite a sighting – but our porter, who told us he was half-Spanish, half-Yorkshire,

Well, he definitely chose the right country to live in.

And after leaving his workplace we were determined it would be only hasta mañana and not adios.

n www.princesayaiza.com