Written on: 23/09/2005 by malchard (3 reviews written)
Entertainment, hilly area.
Arriving at the Hotel Playa la Arena you walk into a vast reception area which has such an air of opulence and lavishness, it takes your breath away and you wonder if you have been dropped off at the right hotel, particularly as it is often part of a package deal. Being a relatively new hotel, the design is contemporary but with an elegance not normally found in modern buildings and you immediately know this hotel, adorned with lush hanging vegetation, is somewhat special. Efficient and helpful reception staff provide a warm welcome and you think to yourself " I am going to really enjoy my stay here" as you walk across the vast expanse of marble floor to enter one of the glass fronted lifts en route to your allocated accommodation.
Upon entering the room, you immediately notice the quality furnishings/ fittings plus the spacious and spotlessly clean bathroom which sports not only a bidet, but a separate bath and shower too. You then focus on the huge bed (7 foot) in the centre of the room before checking out the private balcony at the far end of the accommodation. The room is already cool and the air conditioning system really does work so very well and is silent running so you know you are going to get a good nights sleep at the end of the day. On a slightly negative note though, the comfortable bed is in fact two separate divans butted together with individual bed linen and made up accordingly, which is perhaps not how the British public prefer their sleeping arrangements. They also have a tendency to move apart on the tiled floor, so perhaps some simple velcro strips would fix that (management take note!). Sound insulation is also good and the carpeted hallways add to the serenity, so peace and quiet in the room is assured. You will see also that the balconies without the pool view will in any event, afford you a good view of the sea as well as looking out on the old town particularly from the higher floors. All in all, you will be more than pleased with the high standard, outlook and cleanliness of the accommodation.
After unpacking, exploration of the facilities is a must and you pass through the lower level of the reception area which is adorned with shrubbery, fountains ,pools and flat wooden bridges, all that is missing here are koi carp. You then head towards the immaculately manicured and tiered gardens which are filled with sub tropical plants which make you feel you are in the Caribbean. The curved swimming pools look so very inviting and you reflect once more that an awful lot of time and thought has gone into the design of this complex. Moving on, the gardens descend down towards the sea and as you follow the winding path (lifts are also available) you come across the most amazing waterfall which would not be out of place in Disneyland, it is that special. A security gate then lets you out onto the road adjacent to the beach and this keeps the whole area safe and secure so that it can only be enjoyed by guests staying at the hotel. Standing outside you will always notice that resort visitors passing by often look in amazement at what they are missing by not staying at this facility and you might then feel rather smug that you made such a good choice.
Now sun beds are always a consideration at holiday hotels, however the need to lay down towels at an ungodly hour is not necessary here as comfortable sun beds are always available and are not laid out in regimented rows due to the overall design of the area. The poolside bar/restaurant compliments the surroundings perfectly and although we did not dine there, the lunchtime menu always looked appetising. It should also be mentioned that the toilets which cater for the poolside area are always dry and spotlessly clean which is a welcome change from many a hotel we have stayed at.
We had previously read one or two reports suggesting the dining room was akin to a canteen, although when you have to cater for so many hundreds of people, it is surely impossible to get a particularly intimate atmosphere under such circumstances and we certainly felt more than comfortable at all times in this environment.
From our point of view, we can offer nothing but praise for the whole experience, the dining area was forever clean, tidy and well organised, with waiters/waitresses always attentive and eager to clear away dirty crockery; the dining itself was first class.
The food was varied, plentiful, expertly prepared/presented and the show cooking was the icing on the cake, particularly fillet steak which was on the menu twice a week and would put many a restaurant to shame with the quality of the cuts. Needless to say unless you are on a strict diet regime, the pounds will certainly pile on if you opt to try so many items from the huge variety on offer.
To be brutally honest, for us this was the only area where we were a little disappointed as in our view, the entertainment was a little below par. The music hall is exceptionally well appointed though and you could also sit out on the adjacent open plan patio watching the acts, however, the shows were often poorly attended which suggests our views were reflected by many of the hotel guests. There is also a piano bar which has a somewhat sophisticated air about it; the pianist provides the relaxation which makes for an ideal atmosphere for chat amongst friends and family. The bar itself reminds us of the film Cocktail but we never saw Tom Cruise serving drinks whilst we were there.
We should perhaps point out that the local area is very quiet but with a distinctly Spanish flavour and there are few bars to enjoy alternative entertainment, some of which may shut early unless sufficiently patronized. Also if you have teenage children then this is perhaps a no go hotel as it really only caters for older guests or those with young children, so they may get bored quickly and that could spoil your overall enjoyment. Similarly, if you like to party into the wee small hours then this will not be the place for you.
The hotel is situated in what is not much more than a village location so do not expect too much in terms of local activities, it is also somewhat hilly so may not suit people who have mobility problems. The black volcanic sand beach just across the road is relatively small but never seemed to be too crowded so perhaps most visitors to the area are happy with lounging around hotel or villa pools.
On the plus side though, there is a complete absence of time share/holiday club touts and that for us was sheer bliss as they can often spoil your quality time in the sun with their constant harassment.
Having spent last years vacation at the Vulcano (a sister hotel), we guess it is natural to make comparisons, but there is little to choose between them as they both provide the same very high standards in terms of food, room comfort, cleanliness and general "feel good" factor. Hotel Playa la Arena will more suit those requiring total relaxation, whilst the Vulcanos location provides plenty of nearby alternative evening entertainment, due to its relative proximity to Las Americas and the nearby strip of bars, some of which provide live music.
A most beautiful and immaculately kept hotel, which is a credit to both its owners and the management/staff who keep it that way. It exudes a warm ambience coupled with a cosmopolitan feel due to its popularity with the indigenous population and provides a relaxing and tranquil holiday for those who do not want the " in your face" attitude that Las Americas conveys and delivers. We only wish Spring Hotels would expand into mainland Spain and the Balearics as we would then never need to consider looking elsewhere in the future.
Needless to say in true Arnie fashion, "I'll be back".
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