Living like a king in Tenerife: RIU Palace on shores of the Canaries is the perfect location to unwind
With a sub-tropical climate year-round it is little wonder that Tenerife is literally such a hot spot for Northern Irish tourists.
Costa Adeje on the south coast of the largest of the Canary Islands is among the favourite destinations with celebrity fans including the Beckhams, Mariah Carey, Daniel O'Donnell and Shakira.
On my first trip I stayed in such a great hotel that I was only away from the complex for one afternoon to do a spot of shopping. That hotel was the RIU Palace right on the seafront.
This five-star resort showcases Tenerife at its very best with great food, drink, service, suites and entertainment.
Trust me, visit it and sit in one of their pools looking around and you will agree the views are simply stunning. There are volcanic slopes to the rear and amazing sea views to the front (as well as a small beach).
The hotel's curved design means lots of the rooms look out to sea and, if you have the budget, opt for one of the suites which gives you exclusive access to the hotel's adults-only infinity pool and beach bed enclosure.
But if not, there is still plenty of choice with two large swimming pools facing the Atlantic, plus a sandy terrace with sunbeds. Staying in a junior suite with a sea view and balcony also allows you to relax in the sun on one of the loungers.
These suites are beautifully designed and have their own whirlpool bath where you can relax while looking out to sea as it faces the balcony.
The resort is designed so you will never want to leave, and after trying the dining options and relaxing on a sun bed all day, this will hold plenty of appeal.
Food wise, I would recommend you go half board if you want the best value for money. The selection of food was astounding in both quality and quantity.
For breakfast there are various stations including omelette and eggs, crepes, fruit, cereals and bread. And you can also avail of the free champagne bar at breakfast if you wish.
Breakfast is more than likely to leave you too full for lunch but you can buy lunch at either the pool bar or tapas bar with a wide selection of seafood, burgers, sandwiches and pasta.
For dinner you have three choices, all of which are included for half board. You can head back to the mammoth buffet which serves every type of cuisine known to man (and woman) with soup, cold and hot starter, mains, salads and dessert options all available.
During my time there this included Peking duck, steak, roast chicken, pastas and ravioli, seafood, ribs, stir fry, fajitas, risotto and pizza for main course. I saw hundreds of different dishes over a week.
I am usually not a fan of buffet restaurants as I have been in too many bad ones both at home and abroad, but this was a revelation.
The food was faultless and the desserts were a particular highlight for me with up to 25 choices available each evening. No wonder I barely left the RIU Palace.
And if you want to stay healthy they have a health food station set up where they offer low-calorie and tasty dishes.
As well as the main buffet restaurant you have a choice of two a la carte restaurants - the fusion Krystal restaurant where you must try their mushroom ragu with poached egg starter and a tapas restaurant beside the pool.
Both those also offer matching wine pairings which is worth exploring. Just be aware when packing that when dining in the restaurants at night, men have to wear full-length trousers, though shorts are fine for breakfast.
If all that food makes you feel too guilty you can try out the hotel's gym in the wellness centre where you will also find the Body Love spa offering a range of treatments including massages and facials.
At night, the hotel offers varied entertainment throughout the week for all the family.
Sitting outside with one of the bar's many creative cocktails in hand while watching various acts on the main stage was a nice way to chill before bed. If you do feel like venturing out to the main strip of Costa Adeje, shops, bars and restaurants are just 20 minutes away and the more lively party resort of Playa de las Americas slightly further.
There are also plenty of excursions to be had. While my sole concern was a week relaxing in the sun, I had been very temped to visit Mount Teide, the highest summit in Spain which is also a dormant volcano. I could see it at the back of the hotel but a colleague visited it before Christmas and thought it was one of the best excursions he has been on.
Teide National Park is situated at such a high altitude that it rests above the clouds, which means clear blue skies are guaranteed. On the ascent to the park, you will come across a large pine forest in which the trees have developed layers of thick bark that makes them fire-resistant.
You will pass through the island's famous "sea of clouds" before reaching a deep crater in the rock formation with volcanic dust, and boulders of every shape and size lying around.
Apparently this is where US astronauts received specialist training before the first manned journey to the moon.
It is also a favourite location for movie shoots given its landscape.
Clash of the Titans was filmed there, as was One Million Years BC, Fast & Furious 6 and some of the Planet of the Apes films and Doctor Who shows.
As well as taking a drive up, you can also take a cable car up to practically the summit sitting at 3,718 metres above sea level.
Due to its altitude, lack of light pollution, and proximity to the equator, it is one of the very few places where, at night, it is possible to see both the northern and southern constellations of stars. Little wonder then that astronomers have been coming here since the 18th century making it one of the world's most important observatories.
Tenerife also boasts two very different parks - Siam Park, which is one of Europe's biggest water parks and offers an array of thrill-seeking slides, and the Loro Parque zoo.
Set against a backdrop of spectacular Thai architecture, with everything from meandering rivers to free-fall slides, the star attraction is the Tower Of Power 28-metre-high ride. At the bottom you shoot through the middle of a giant aquarium containing sharks and manta rays.
Loro Parque is a delightfully designed zoological garden which received TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice 2018 award for the best zoo in the world for the second year running. Loro is Spanish for parrot so you can expect to see a lot of exotic birds. The show at the Loro Parque Dolphinarium is home to nine magnificent bottle-nose dolphins.
If you have time another recommended excursion is a whale and dolphin watching trip.
And when you are all done with sightseeing and shopping, the ultimate treat will be returning to relax at the amazing RIU Palace.
TUI deals at Hotel RIU Palace Tenerife in Costa Adeje:
Summer 19: Depart August 25, 2019, for 7 nights, on a half board basis from just £889pp.
- Direct flights from Belfast to Tenerife.
- Transfers to your hotel and 20kg luggage
- Transfer time from Tenerife Airport - 35 minutes
Check out www.tui.co.uk
To book tickets for Loro Parque and Siam Park, go to www.loroparque.com and www.siampark.net
For more information on Tenerife go to www.webtenerife.co.uk