Of all holidays, sneaking away for some winter sun seems the most indulgent. It feels like cheating the system, cheating the cold and cheating cold, grey days at home. Tenerife is a hugely family friendly destination and an easy option from Aberdeen airport which is the closest airport for my tribe. Last year we stayed in the Be Live hotel in Los Gigantes and had an adventure on the seven seas on pirate ship Flipper Uno. This year we wanted a shorter transfer time from the airport so we decided to try Hotel Isabel in the nearby resort of Costa Adeje. For a change I was travelling with my mother, Madam Pensioner, and Mr Boy. (Mr Toddler and Mr Husband were at home spending quality time together, but that’s another story). Hotel Isabel surpassed our expectations, to the point that I’m considering booking for 2018. Here’s why.
CHECK IN – With no queues for the taxi rank my family hopped in a cab and arrived at Hotel Isabel about twenty minutes after collecting our luggage at the airport – the fare was €28. We were helped with our luggage, swiftly checked in and then escorted to our bungalow armed with maps and information about the resort. We had to pay for our stay on arrival. It was a seamless transfer and it was easier than a lengthy package holiday transfer or picking up a hire car.
BUNGALOW – Hotel Isabel does have hotel rooms on offer but we’d booked a one bedroom bungalow (two bedroom bungalows/villas are also available). It was spacious and homely, and handily situated on the ground floor as it was a … bungalow. We’d booked full board but our kitchen area had a fridge and microwave (really useful when travelling with tots or for chilling wine) and we could easily have prepared meals here if we were self-catering. The lounge area had a tele and a sofa bed for my mother, and the bedroom, for me and Mr Child, had its own tele and lots of storage. I liked having a little front garden with table and chairs where we could hang out and drink coffee and apple juice in the sun. Some families used their garden area for having a few drinks in the evenings with the kids asleep, but whilst the days are glorious sunshine the evenings and early mornings are pretty chilly in February. The room was cleaned every day and Mr Boy was delighted with the towel swans and other details he discovered each day – you can’t beat a towel swan.
FACILITIES – Hotel Isabel has three pools. A baby pool full of toys which is ideal for toddlers and children, it’s about 20cm deep. There’s lots of shaded areas in and around the pool, as well as sunny spots, so ideal for families who need to shade the baby but desire a tan themselves.
The big pool is the best for small babies as is has a gradual entry so babies can sit in millimetres of water, ideal for those who can just sit upright or have started crawling. The third pool is just a lovely pool, no toys, no gradual entry, but its shallow end is around 20cm so works well for toddlers upwards. We found we just alternated between the three pools for a little variety and never had a problem getting sun loungers.
The play facilities are excellent. There’s a little train that Mr Child repeatedly visited claiming he was heading off to see his other granny in London. A small climbing frame with a slide is right next to the baby pool: it’s in the shade all morning and gets the sun in the afternoon so you can time your playtime. Running down one side of the hotel is quite an extensive play area with a large playground, four plastic motorbikes for whizzing around a wee road, a zipwire, a small football pitch and crazy golf. There was also a bouncy castle that was sometimes either inflated or deflated (we never did work out its timetable but Mr Boy adored it). This huge play area got the sun in the morning and shaded in the afternoon so again you could plan your playtime as you wished.
There is entertainment every evening but I didn’t see any of it. The Baby Disco was at 8pm which was too late for my sleepy boy so my mother and I hung out in our bungalow once he was asleep with a glass of wine and the tele on (the TV received BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4). Rock and roll.
DINING – The Hotel Isabel resort is vast and whilst our bungalow was ideally situated for the pools and playgrounds it was quite a long walk to the restaurants. We didn’t mind as it was nice walking out for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we could have taken a buggy or scooter as required. We also saw lots of my mother’s peers whizzing about on mobility scooters so it was a large but accessible complex. The food was good. Usually I get a bit tired of buffet dining after about day 5 but we stayed for ten nights and I felt the mass catering at Hotel Isabel was particularly varied. I ate my bodyweight of prawns in garlic butter one night, then returned for generous seconds – I would have paid around £30-£40 for this amount of seafood at home. Admittedly I ate so much on this holiday and I’m still trying to explain to Mr Child why he doesn’t get a choice of six cakes and four flavours of ice-cream at home. I miss it!
STAFF – The staff are very helpful and professional, and many of them clearly adore children. My son was always acknowledged, he was given lollipops after dinner (after the staff gave me the nod to check it was ok) and he was given attention.
LOCATION – Another real bonus to Hotel Isabel is its location. As well as being very close to the airport it’s in a lovely resort with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s right next to a supermarket so great for picking up supplies cheaply. The beach is a five minute walk away and there’s lots of cafes, shops and restaurants on the beachfront. Admittedly it’s a whizz downhill then a steep uphill hike on the return leg but if Madam Pensioner can manage it then most people can. Costa Adeje isn’t a remote spot, it’s busy but gentle, bustling but very civilised, and it’s very popular with tourists who want an easy break in the sun.
THE LOWDOWN – We flew direct from Aberdeen Airport with Thomson to Tenerife South – we’d booked flights only. We independently booked Hotel Isabel direct on their website which meant we only needed to give 24 hours notice for any changes or cancellations (which is good as poor Mr Husband and Mr Toddler remained at home, but as I said that’s a story for another time!)
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