Posts Tagged ‘The Majestic’

How anyone can ever be bored in Tenerife I’ll never know. Even the humdrum of everyday life normally keeps you on your toes, but the weekend before Christmas was a perfect example of how one minute you can be living the highlife here and the next completely brought down to earth and then some.

Friday had started off in a rather sad and bizarre fashion (part of one of the more fascinating Tenerife experiences that either Andy or I will write about one day). We weren’t directly involved, but it took some of the shine off collecting my mum, sister and her boyfriend from the bus station.

Despite there being a weather alert for high winds to such an extent that the cabins had been taken down from the harbour funfair’s big wheel it was actually a hot, sunny day and we spent a lovely day reintroducing my family to Puerto de la Cruz’s charms.

On Friday night we went to the Bitter & Twisted show at the Majestic where it was a great Christmas present to watch my mum in stitches at John Sharples and Barry Pugh’s clever and very funny show.

On Saturday we drove them back to Playa de la Arena where they were staying for some sun therapy prior to a snowy Christmas in the UK. The sun was shining again on that coast after a couple of days of cloud and rain and we deposited them at the beach as we drove on to Puerto Santiago and booked into the Barcélo Santiago Hotel.

Highlight of the Weekend
We’ve stayed in some fab hotel rooms and suites around the world; in Sheratons, Shangri-La’s and Dusit’s and so on, but the room we had at the Barcélo Santiago was one of the sexiest. I was completely seduced by its sophisticated, modern design and frosted glass interior walls. The views from the generous balcony of the Los Gigantes Acantilados and La Gomera simply made staying there one hell of an attractive package. I would have quite happily spent the whole visit in that room.
I could rattle on more about it, but Andy has already described our stay in her Real Tenerife blog in more beautifully described detail.

After spending the day and a good part of the night in the hotel we decided to have a change of scenery to end the night. We strolled, after a long and most enjoyable dinner at the hotel’s a la carte Sabor Español restaurant across the road to one of the top entertainment venues in south west Tenerife, Route 66.

Resident band Old Dogs New Tricks weren’t playing that night, but Los Tres Hombres did a great job of keeping the bar rocking to some classic sounds. It was a lively end to the day and all was well with the world until I had to pay a visit to the men’s room.

Lowlight of the Weekend
When I was ready to leave I turned to unlock the door and the bolt didn’t move. I tried again and again, but the little mock gold locking mechanism wouldn’t budge.

At first I wasn’t a bit concerned – in fact I figured the bottle of wine over dinner and couple of beers in Route 66 had impaired my toilet door opening skills somewhat. But as I dropped to my knees to inspect the stubborn lock it became clear that it wasn’t me at all. At some point in the recent past a new lock had been attached…and it had been a botched job.

At that point I have to admit to starting to get quite worried. No amount of rattling, cursing and pulling would make the damn lock budge. I looked around for an alternative way out, but the door went all the way to the ceiling. There was only one potential escape route; a little gap between the gents and the ladies’ toilets. If it came to the worst I figured I could squeeze through, but that option seemed a bit drastic.

Ten minutes later and still imprisoned, it started to look like my only way to escape this hell. But before I resorted to scaring the be-Jesus out of some poor unsuspecting woman I tried one last pathetic approach. I banged loudly on the door and shouted “HELP” over and over.

Unfortunately being locked in the toilet of a bar playing loud rock music meant that my cries for help must have been completely drowned out and no rescue was forthcoming.

Finally after twenty minutes of imprisonment and trauma the door started to rattle and bang and then after a few moments it sprang open…I was free.

After a wonderful day and night I’d walked into that toilet with the swagger of James Bond (the Sean Connery and Daniel Craig versions not Old Codger Moore’s) and emerged gushing relieved gratitude like a Chilean miner.

Andy, meanwhile, was still singing along to the band oblivious to my ordeal.

As I said at the start how can anyone ever be bored on Tenerife?

As a footnote, I pointed out to the barman that the lock was faulty, but as far as I could see he didn’t actually do anything about it. So guys, if you’re visiting the loo at Route 66 don’t lock the door. And gals, if you’re in the loo keep one eye on that little gap between the male and female toilets, you just never know when you might have some unexpected company.

You can quote all the arguments why people opt for ‘all inclusive’ deals when they go on holiday, but in the last week I’ve witnessed first hand why for local businesses they are as a welcome in a resort as an outbreak of swine flu.

First of all it was Playa Paraiso. We wandered around the little resort during prime lunch time hours. What we saw came as a complete shock.

Every restaurant and bar was almost completely empty – it was a ghost town. And yet there are big hotels right in the centre of the resort… and they weren’t empty. But their occupants weren’t leaving the premises. Even the little beach was empty and the rows of sun beds lay unused.

Lonely Sunbeds

I’ve been reading constantly about the decline of Puerto de la Cruz, but of course we have a thriving and vibrant local scene here; there’s always something going on and Canarios flock here at the weekend, so the reports never quite match the reality. The same can’t be said of the smaller purpose built resorts where the AI hotels are draining every last bit of life from the streets.

Our next experience of the dramatic impact of AI was in Playa de la Arena at the weekend. We’d spent the Saturday night in Puerto de la Cruz, showing my sister and her boyfriend the town.
We’d eaten tapas then strolled along the streets of the old town, where living statues and unusual puppet shows entertained the throng of visitors and locals, before heading to a packed ‘The Majestic’ to watch what must be one of the best acts on the island, ‘Bitter & Twisted’, perform their show which had us all in stitches. It was two in the morning before we knew it.

Switch forward 24 hours and we’re sitting in a bar in the centre of Playa de la Arena at 23.30. There is no-one else in the bar, or any of the bars nearby. It’s uncomfortably quiet.

“It’s the AI,” the owner tells us. “It’s changed everything.”

There are plenty of people about the resort during the day, enjoying strolling around what at this moment is still a pleasantly relaxing resort. However, most of them might as well be carrying bricks and lobbing them through the windows of all the businesses that they pass.

And this is what really irks me about AI. People choose the resort because it has a nice feel to it (maybe they don’t; maybe they’re not arsed as long as the hotel gives them all they want for their handful of silver), but when it loses that feel because the restaurants and shops become boarded up what will they do then? They’ll stop coming, many of them oblivious to the fact that it was they who hammered in the nails on the ‘for sale’ signs.

I’m hoping there will be a backlash and it’ll come sooner rather than later. One business man told us that some of the AI customers who did come in to his bar moaned that the quality in the Playa de la Arena hotel had plummeted. You might say that as a local businessman who has suffered, it’s no surprise that he would say this.

But recently my neighbour, who like many Canarios spends some weekends in hotels in the south, cut her stay at the Playa de la Arena Hotel short and returned north because she thought the hotel was a disgrace.

It’s a crying shame, but unfortunately greed will ultimately consume and destroy. And in the case of AI hotels, the ‘greed’ accusation shouldn’t simply be levelled at the ‘welcoming foyers’ of the people who own the hotels.

I just hope that there are enough people out there for whom quality is more important than quantity and that the age of the AI will come to an end sooner rather than later.