‘A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking’ – Earl Wilson
When it comes to spending money Dave and I are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. He would happily live the minimalist lifestyle if it meant he’d saved enough to retire at 45 where as cash burns a physical hole in my pocket as soon as I get it. One of the few things we can both save or make sacrifices for though is our holidays as we both adore to travel.
Over the last few years we’re tried to work on the power of 3 concept; 3 foreign holidays and 3 weekend breaks. I wanted to kick off this year by going skiing. I skied a lot as a child and Dave has been snowboarding but we’ve never been skiing together. However having both been royally fed up with work, and not really that keen on going somewhere even colder than the North East of England so we packed up for a week in sunny Tenerife at the end of January.
Tenerife would never traditionally be my first choice of destination, I went to Playa de las Americas when I was 18 on a girls holiday and it was basically Whitley Bay in 30 degree heat. However we were only able to get a week off work so it seemed the best shot of nice weather without having to fly longer than 4 hours from Newcastle.
We chose the Bahia Principe in Costa Adeje because it was the cheapest 5* resort that got decent reviews. We’ve stayed in All Inclusive places before which have been on the cheaper end of the scale but food and drink reviews came up good on Trip Advisor and the fact that you got to visit 3 of their 4 a la carte restaurants per week was a big sway for us to break up the monotony of the buffet every day.
It’s a massive complex with over 400 rooms which all sit around the edge of 3 large swimming pools (1 is a infinity pool – swish!) and also boasts 3 bars, 4 a la carte restaurants, a gym and spa and little shopping village which includes a pharmacy and tourist shop.
Visually it’s stunning, overlooking the Atlantic ocean and the grounds are kept impeccably clean. We didn’t see one bug or creepy crawly, which meant no annoying bites or stings. All the staff are also incredibly friendly and attentive, we even had our lunchtime waiter trained to just top up my wine without me even having to ask. I half considered offering him a job as my personal wine butler back home but not sure he would want to cope with the temperature change!
We stayed in a standard room (room 8004 to be exact) which was situated at the far end of the complex furthest away from the reception and near the sea; a small block of 6 bungalows. Despite being right outside one of the main pools, the room was absolutely silent (apart from the aircon – which is free) and for being a standard room was really big. The king size bed was one of he biggest we’ve ever slept in, there was a fridge and small mini bar which was stocked with beer, coke and fanta each day as well as a litre bottle of water.
There was a large bathroom with double sinks, jacuzzi bath with shower head, toilet and bidet. A sign of a super posh hotel for me is a phone next to the bidet should you ever come into peril whilst washing your bum – now that’s living!
Rooms were cleaned and serviced daily with new towels and linen.
Food and Drink
As I say we’ve done AI before with varying degrees of success but the Bahia Principe is all inclusive done properly. Despite them saying that the bars are open from 11am to 11pm you could get an alcoholic drink 24 hours a day if you really wanted one as they have self service cava and bucks fizz laid out at breakfast time. Wine and beer are served in plastic cups around the pool area which is understandable, however you can get proper classes at the main bars and restaurants which feels so much classier. Wine and beer is also self serve, with spirits and cocktails available at different bars around the resort and spirits and mixers are self serve in the main bar in evenings.
My only small gripe (and this is going to make me sound like a right plonky) but I’m pretty convinced that the wine is watered down. For what is supposedly 13%, if i’d had two large glasses of that at home i’d be smashed in half an hour however I was drinking multiple, multiple, glasses on holiday without feeling much effect at all. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, it meant I was never really too drunk, therefore never really had a hangover, but it feels a little dishonest if that is in fact what’s going on.
The food was also pretty spectacular and apart from some marmite for my toast at breakfast I can’t imagine what you’d want that isn’t provided. There’s 4 a la carte restaurants; an italian, asian, brazilian and mexican. We tried all but the asian and all were really high quality, especially the Brazilian where the waiters come round with swords of meat cutting it off fresh for you until you tell them to stop! The buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and although have theme nights to keep things interesting, there’s also always staples like pizza, paella, pasta and fish dishes should you want something a little less exotic. Everything seemed incredibly fresh, nothing looked like it had been sitting out for hours and I got very used to having donuts and churros for breakfast every morning!
The Amenities & Entertainment
The problem with winter sun is that it can be a bit risky. I don’t like lying out if the sun isn’t out as it turns sunbathing into essentially lying outside in your bra and knickers. We were lucky with the weather which although has cloudy patches, the sun was pretty much out most of the time at a very sunbathable 20-ish degrees everyday. If the sun isn’t out there’s little else to do than sit around and drink (which is pretty much what we do every Saturday anyway so not too much of a stretch!) there’s a gym (which i went to once for research purposes) and a beauty spa (which is chargable). They also have a very lively animations team organising table tennis, archery, bingo etc round the pool during the day.
We went with Thomas Cook who did offer different excusrions from the hotel. If we’d been staying longer than a week we possibly may have ventured out but I don’t get chance to top up my vitamin D as much as i’d like these days so we just stayed by the pool the whole time. It bothered me that wifi was only available in the reception area, which only has a few seats in. If you wanted wifi throughout the resort you had to pay daily for, boo, skinflints!
The evening entertainment was good. It was all live music of varing quality; singing wedding band favourites but all seemed to be able to get everyone up dancing night after night (or perhaps that was all the wine?!) The highlight for us was without a doubt a Beatles Tribute band who were really excellent
There wasn’t much we didn’t like about the Bahia Principe to be perfectly honest. It was exactly what we needed to escape the dreary January blues and for the amount of free flowing food and drink it was extremely good value for money. I would hate to see what it looks like in peak season, it was hard to get a seat for the entertainment as it was in January however i’m sure they make provisions for that and put out more tables, it will undoubtedly create bigger queues at the buffet though I’m sure.
Despite that though we would definitely go back, and I’m absolutely converted to the idea of winter sun over skiing too!