Meloneras has a touch of Miami
anders falkirk/metro world news
Mundo, a restaurant in Gran Canaria’s Playa del Inglés, offers up minimalist decor and Asian fusion cooking. The Canary Islands are shedding their image as a bargain-package-holiday destination.
The beach resort of Playa Meloneras is the new face of the Canary Islands — the group of islands just off the northwestern coast of Africa — a newly upgraded, cooler and gilded zone of the popular island of Gran Canaria.
Meloneras has been developed over the past five years and has a touch of Miami Beach about it, especially when walking along the promenade beside the white beach villas of the Riu Grand Palace hotel.
Further along the seafront, around the huge 19th-century lighthouse, lie a series of good restaurants and exclusive boutiques including Hilfiger, Boss and Mandarina Duck. There are no signs with tourist menus in five languages, and no bric-a-brac stores selling cheap I Love Canary Islands T-shirts and beachwear here.
This transformation has been a success. Tourists from nearby Playa del Inglés come here at night to take a walk in the sunset — and have a drink at Café de Paris.
But Playa Meloneras isn’t the only example of a fresher Canary Islands emerging.
On all seven islands there are butterflies coming out of their pods. Here and there you see signs of an exciting metamorphoses, not unlike what happened to Mallorca a decade ago.
You notice it especially when it comes to hotels: There are now a number of beautiful, sleek, designer hotels to choose from.
Not far from Playa Meloneras, for example, in a desert valley, you find the striking Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort hotel, with its polished lava stone and rusted iron panels, its designer pools, waterfalls, spa, decks and rooms with terraces offering astonishing views over sea or mountains.
Recently, a handful of modern restaurants with ambitions beyond paella and pizza have appeared, including Qué Tal in Puerto Mogan, Mundo in Playa del Inglés and Egoísta in San Augustín.
It’s a welcome transformation not only for tourists, but for the local tourism industry, which was suffering from a reputation dogged by outdated hotels and sloppy, overpriced restaurants.
Visitor numbers have been in decline for a number of years and feedback has been poor.
These changes raise the bar, which is essential as today’s tourists are widely travelled and demand a higher quality from hotels and restaurants.
Don’t assume the Canary Islands are becoming universally hip. They are and always will be a sun destination for hordes of Brits and northern Europeans; and reasonably priced hotels and restaurants will continue to abound.
What you’ll find instead is pockets of cool. Las Palmas, one of the two capitals of the Canary Islands, has what it takes to become a chic break destination.
A vibrant city, it combines Spanish urban life, Latin American culture and Las Canteras, the four-kilometre long sandy beach and a growing number of stylish cafés and bars, mainly in Triana and La Vegueta.
Las Palmas might not be San Antonio just yet, but it’s already showing what Gran Canaria could be made of.