If you’re looking for a luxury family friendly property in the Spanish Canary Islands, the Abama will have popped up on your radar. Owned by the Ritz Carlton group, Georgina puts it to the test to see if it’s worth splashing the cash.
Who went Georgina, husband, Abbie (3 yrs 10 months), Sam (18 months)
Where Ritz-Carlton, Abama, Tenerife
Booking: We booked each part of our trip direct. The hotel booking was made with the Ritz-Carlton, Abama, the car hire direct with Hertz, and the flights direct with Monarch from London Luton to Tenerife South. This was the simplest option for us, but there are some excellent travel agents with great knowledge of the resort.
Getting there: Our flight was around 4 hours from London Luton to Tenerife South airport. From Tenerife South, it took around half an hour to drive to the resort. It’s a fairly simple drive and there are directions on the hotel website. On arrival at the hotel we were whisked out of our car and into reception while the car was valet parked for us, and our bags were taken straight to our room.
Hotel room There are a few room options available at the Abama for families with children. After the ‘standard’ rooms, the cheapest is a Junior Suite, but you’ll still all be in one room. If you’d rather not share a room with the kids, you’ll need to go for a One bedroom Suite, or two interconnecting rooms.
We opted for a One bedroom Suite located in the Citadel, the main building of the hotel. There are also rooms available in the villas, which are slightly separate from the main building. We saw guests in the villas driving around in golf buggies, which looked like fun, but I was glad to be in the main building where we could easily walk around. We did find the hotel quite difficult and confusing to navigate, especially when trying to find step-free routes using the buggy. Our room (number 282) was on the second floor just above Ritz Kids, so it was a bit noisy when they were playing during the day.
The Suite was more than big enough for the four of us. Even with a foldaway bed and a cot, the lounge area felt spacious. We had a large balcony with two sun loungers and a table and two chairs. I did walk past some villa rooms with glass doors leading directly out into the hotel gardens, but for us it was great to have an enclosed space for the kids to run around safely. The balcony was accessible from both the bedroom and the lounge area, so it means that you can use it while the kids are asleep. The curtains were thick and blocked out plenty of light, and we used our trusty Cot Canopy Breeze to cover my son’s cot.
The only downside to the Suite is that if your kids are light sleepers there is only a thin screen in between the bedroom and living area, which doesn’t block out much noise if you want to watch TV in the evening. We arranged babysitting for most of our evenings so this wasn’t too much of an issue for us. If you do plan to stay in, the English TV channel options weren’t great, so take a good book, or some DVDs.
We had a minibar fridge and a Nespresso machine. Only six Nespresso capsules are provided, so take some with you if you don’t want to have to purchase more on site. There was no kettle but they did bring one when on request. We were given plenty of bottled water in the room and there were lots of places around the pool, beach and gym to refill water too.
The housekeeping staff were all incredibly nice and helpful, responding quickly to requests – ice, kettle, even a bathmat – and they were lovely and friendly to our kids. Our evening turndown was done quickly at around 6pm when we were settling the kids to bed, and our daughter loved her special little slippers.
Facilities for kids Ritz Kids is the hotel’s free kids club. It is open from 10am to 6pm, and can also be used in the evening for a charge of 8 euros per child per hour up until midnight. However only children over the age of 4 are allowed to stay in Ritz Kids unaccompanied. This means that if you have younger children, you either need to stay and play with them, or hire a nanny to take them in. We did both (see the bottom of our review for more info on Childminders Tenerife).
I was very impressed with the facilities on offer at Ritz Kids, it was a clean, well equipped, fun place for kids to enjoy their time, and had a nice fenced in grassy area to play on.
Outside of Ritz Kids the only activity that we noticed that would be of interest to young children was the koi carp pond. The fish are fed every day at noon, and our kids enjoyed watching this.
Other than that, they were pretty happy just to play at the beach and around the pool. There is a mini train that runs every half hour from the main hotel down to the beach area, with stops at Ritz Kids and at the villas. We used this to take the kids to the beach as it’s too far for children to walk.
There is also a funicular but this was broken during our stay. We also spent a lot of time playing around the pool. There is a ‘family’ pool towards the side of the hotel, but there were lots of children playing in the main pool during our stay and there was a lovely friendly atmosphere. If you forget your armbands and rubber rings, these are all on sale at the hotel shop.
Facilities for adults We spent most of our child-free time just relaxing by the pool and walking around the grounds. There is a desk in reception offering excursions organised by an external company. I used the gym (once!), which wasn’t huge but was well equipped, and there is also a spa, tennis courts and a golf course. If you want to fully relax while the kids are taken care of then there is an ‘adults only’ pool by the villas. The beach area is nice, although it’s not that big, with plenty of loungers and a café. On the weekend the beach does get busier as it isn’t technically a private beach so it is used by locals. We didn’t see this is a problem though, and it actually gave the beach a nice buzzy atmosphere.
Dining When we booked the trip I was quite concerned about getting bored with the selection of restaurants on offer. I needn’t have worried. Eating at the Abama isn’t cheap, but it is varied, and we thought that the quality of the food was excellent.
There are two Michelin starred restaurants. MB has two stars and we had a phenomenal meal there. Kabuki is a one star Japanese restaurant, which we also enjoyed, although MB was definitely the culinary highlight of our stay. There is also an Argentinian (Pampa), Italian (Verano), Tapas, and several restaurants by the pools (Mirador and Los Chozos) and a restaurant by the beach. We booked MB and Kabuki before our trip, and would have done well to book other meals too, as we couldn’t always get a table when we wanted one. There is a good kids menu on offer in the main restaurant outlets, and the great news is that children under the age of 4 eat for free. This isn’t mentioned on the menu, but staff were quite happy to apply it to our bill, and I have since had this policy confirmed by the hotel. Drinks are expensive in the resort, so we brought some duty free with us so that we could enjoy a drink in the room without having to pay mini bar prices each day.
What made the Ritz- Carlton, Abama, stand out to us? The staff that we encountered during our week at the Ritz-Carlton, Abama, were simply exceptional. It’s unusual to stay at a big resort like this and walk away with the genuine feeling that the staff enjoy and take pride in what they do. We were impressed by virtually everyone we came across, from the housekeeping ladies who played with our daughter, to the cocktail barman making us his signature drink, the waiter who chased after a little girl when she forgot her stickers, and the ever-smiling guys working around the pool area. We also thought that the food was outstanding. As I have mentioned above, it isn’t cheap, but we did not anticipate how good the hotel restaurants were going to be.
A note on Childminders Tenerife
When we booked our week in Tenerife, we knew that we would want some time to chill out without the kids and recharge our batteries. Although the Ritz-Carlton, Abama has a kids club, children under the age of 4 need to be accompanied by an adult in order to use it. So I got in touch with Childminders Tenerife to find out a bit more about the service that they offer.
Childminders Tenerife offers experienced, professional nannies for daytime and evening childcare. They are fully registered with the local authorities, but they also work to the standard that you would expect when hiring a nanny in the UK. When I made a booking enquiry, I was sent details of the nanny who was available. This included a copy of her CV plus references and copies of her identity documents.
I filled in some information for them and put together a schedule of the hours that we were hoping for. They were quick to respond very helpful with suggestions, and flexible with timings. A few weeks before our trip, Ally Tankard (our nanny) got in touch with a weather update and lots of suggestions. During her first couple of hours with us we all went to the beach together and she got to know the kids, and answered all of our questions about the resort. It was like having our own childcare and concierge service rolled into one! She was also happy to pick things up for us from the supermarket and also offered to do laundry.
Over the course of the week our children had a wonderful time with Ally, and it meant that we were able to have a lovely break knowing that she was looking after them. We even arranged for her to pick them up and take them to breakfast a couple of times so that we could enjoy a relaxed breakfast buffet sitting in the ‘adult only’ section! Ally became a part of our family during our week in Tenerife, and several other parents commented to me that they had seen her with our children and were very impressed by her, and we met a few of her colleagues (Vicky and Pippa) who also seemed lovely. If we return to Tenerife I would very happily book Childminders Tenerife again.
The above article was first published in Jetlag and Mayhem
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