“Yes,” I heard myself say. “I’d love to.” I’d just been invited to spend a week at Sands Beach Resort in Lanzarote, and dear reader, you know how ambivalent I am about accepting anything which might imply that I have to write effusive prose about it afterwards, be it a hotel, a meal or a trip of some sort! Truth is I’m kind of stubborn and independent. I do make exceptions in the right circumstances, and if my curiosity gets the better of me. The right circumstances are that I feel no pressure to write anything, good or bad, and that it fits with my personal interests. Both these applied, plus I was only a hop, skip and a jump away in Fuerteventura the other week – hence my enthusiasm.
Sands Beach Resort is located in Costa Teguise, on the north east coast of Lanzarote, and is thought to be the first Canary Island to be settled by “modern man.” It’s famous for its volcanoes and caves, and its carefully controlled architectural heritage.
I arrived mid-afternoon, after driving pretty much the length of Fuerteventura, taking the ferry from Corralejo to Playa Blanca and dropping off Trixy at kennels recommended by fellow blogger, Julie Cliff-Jones (check out her website if you want to know more about Lanzarote), and then driving almost the length of Lanzarote, so in other words, a bit hot and dusty.
Just walking into my apartment-for-the-week was refreshing in itself. High ceilings with pretty little stained-glass-effect-windows and skylights let in oodles of light without the heat, but for when heat might build up there were plenty of ceiling fans. I loathe air con, but love light, so sometimes that’s a problem, but it wasn’t going to be here – stylish kitchen, cool bedroom and a long bathtub – I sank onto the comfiest couch my bum has encountered in a while, and smiled.
Outside my window there was some serious splashing going on. One of the reasons I accepted this invitation so readily was because I knew how committed Sands Beach Resort is to encouraging and providing facilities for sportspeople. OK, “So how does that fit with my personal interests?” you might ask………..Your question does not offend me, let me explain. Well, for the umpteenth time in my life, I am resolved to get fitter, and I thought that I might pick up some tips at Sands, where folk were training for the Lanzarote Ironman, which was to take place a couple of weeks later. My room was overlooking the training pool, would this sight be inspiring or depressing?
Don’t be put off, if you’re not sporty, the layout is such (see photo) that there is a pool for each of the six, different zones of the complex, one has a kiddies’ playground by it, others are clearly quiet areas where grown-ups can catch some rays in peace, a clever design. In addition there is a pool next to the Mai Tai Bar, and a mini lagoon for those for whom Atlantic beaches may be a bit on the wild side, where all sorts of water sports happen – even yoga on an SUP board! How cool is that? Not, of course, to forget the Atlantic Ocean, which is just across the promenade. In other words you could lie by a different pool every day of a week’s stay, and still not use them all.
Well, perhaps not everyone would want to be thrashing up and down the training pool the way I observed different groups doing during the week, although if you need motivation it’s there sure enough; Marieke Vervoort, ladies 100m Para-Olympic champion was training there, and believe me, there is no-one more inspiring! Although it was pointed out to me that one of the swimmers was around 80 years young, and training for the Ironman too. Hmmm.
Sands Beach Resort’s commitment to fitness and well-being isn’t confined to the water, though. I sat in on a yoga session and a keep fit class, and there is a modern gym, a sports shop, bike and scuba hire, and always-healthy alternatives when it comes to food.
Food? Did I mention food? Although, to be honest I didn’t take real advantage of the evening buffet because I ate out a couple of nights, plus I had such ample lunches on other days that I didn’t want to eat a full meal again, but the breakfast buffet was to.die.for. I alternated between the healthy fruits, yoghurts and cereal choices and the cooked breakfasts to pretend to myself that I was making some attempt at this keep fit lark, and I have to say that I never saw the exact same choices of cooked stuff every day. There was always the standard bacon and eggs (scrambled or fried) but then the sausages were different, or there were mini pancakes with different syrups, hash browns, black pudding, or delicious fried peppers – something I’d never thought of having at breakfast, but will in future. The thing I kept going back for was the scrambled egg, which was the best I’ve ever had (not cooked by me) and was just as good every day. I kept expecting it to devolve into the usual dried-up offering you get in most hotels, but it never did!
Of course, woman cannot live on scrambled egg alone, and I can highly recommend the snacks and dishes in the Mai Tai Bar at lunchtime…..very special mention for their brownies – I have eaten a lot of brownies in my life, and never had a really good one outside the US – until the Mai Tai version. If you go to Sands Beach, even if you are training, you cannot, under any circumstances, leave without trying their brownies!
Hmm, back to keeping fit, methinks! I sneaked into the yoga class & perched on a chair, hoping that no-one would ask me to join in. This overfed and under-exercised body was way too embarrassed by the lithe ones around me, and by the time I realized that it really wouldn’t have mattered, it was over. It’s a few years since I did yoga, but I was always the one at the back, still trying to keep my balance on one leg, when the rest of the class was imitating my cat stretching after a long nap. Here it was all so different, and it occurred to me too late that I would have been perfectly able to keep up. After brief instructions on breathing, the instructor said that he was then going to speak as little as possible, and the relaxing music took over, and the only sounds were the occasional cracking sound of stretching bones from time to time. He moved slowly and with amazing grace for a muscular young guy, he wasn’t your average (in my experience) pie.in.the.sky yoga guru. I watched later when he gave a Body Fit class, and realized that I had missed my chance to embark on that keep fit program I had in my imagination!
In my defense, I was chatting with Katja, who is head of the animation team at Sands, and she was telling me all about all the other sporty stuff guests can try in the hotel, like SUP, diving, and organized runs. Sometimes all we need is the encouragement which comes from doing it with others, especially trained professionals who can advise to get us to try something new. Something which may well become a lifetime commitment or passion even.
Adult sports aren’t the only thing Katja’s team organizes, though. Children’s’ activities are a high priority with emphasis on arts and crafts as well as sports, not simply babysitting. The kids all wear the signature T-shirts for identification, and have to be signed in and out by parents. Obviously, I can’t speak from experience about what it’s like to vacation at Sands Beach Resort with kids, but I did speak to several people over the week, and was quite genuinely amazed by their enthusiasm for the resort; not amazed because I doubted the quality of the hotel, but at the serious loyalty of the folk with whom I spoke, most had been coming back for between five and eight years, so easy was it to wind down there, with great entertainment in the bar at night, but especially because of the facilities for children.
Children or not, sporty or not, the single most important thing about any accommodation for me, regardless of whether it’s a humble BnB, a hostel or a 5 Star big city hotel, is the staff, and I simply can’t praise the Sands Beach Resort staff enough. I honestly thought in Ireland last year that my experiences there couldn’t be topped, but they were every bit as good, from the cheery “Buenos días” of the cleaning staff, to the helpfulness and smiles in reception, to the enthusiasm of the animation team. No-one there, I trust, will be put out if I especially mention Rosemary McManus on the help desk, who recommended first class excursions and eateries. Thanks, Rosemary!
So, you ask, did I take advantage of all this sporty goodness? Er ….. ‘fraid not! Sands Beach Resort recommended so many other diversions and excursions …. More about those very soon! …… that I never got down to anything more serious than watching the amazing Ironman participants being put through their paces by professional trainers as I sipped a Bacardi Breezer on my terrace – ah, well, I simply need to go back and cocoon myself in that healthy atmosphere and not allow myself to be distracted the next time! …… and that should be soon, from the look of my expanding waistline if for no other reason – well, that’s my excuse anyhow, and has nothing, whatsoever, to do with those brownies!