Reviewed: Villa Amaranthus, Gran Canaria
Once upon a time, holiday accommodation was mainly somewhere to sleep between exploring – maybe chosen for its quirky history or lovely boutique touches.
Now, after 10 overseas trips with my daughter, I know we’re going to be spending a lot more time in it. So it’s got to be right. For starters, that means not having one small hotel room, and secondly, having somewhere lovely that’s still baby or child-friendly so I can relax and she can enjoy herself.
I’ve been a big fan of TotsToTravel for a while now, as they vet every single one of the villas listed, not least for safety, and guarantee an ‘essentials’ kit so you needn’t drag a huge amount of baby paraphernalia on a plane (everything from smaller items like sterilisers and monitors to toddler toilet seats, high chairs and cots).
But I hadn’t managed to actually test one out myself – until our holiday in Gran Canaria.
Villa Amaranthus is one of several on the Salobre resort, also home to a five-star Sheraton hotel, in the south of Gran Canaria. Ours had three bedrooms (sleeping up to eight including babies on cots), with seven of us staying – four adults, a four-year-old, a nearly three-year-old and a 10-month old. It also has its own enclosed private pool and a great covered patio with comfy chairs to lounge with a cold drink.
It’s around half an hour from the airport, just off the island’s main motorway, and a short drive from the coast in the south.
The pool – our days quickly fell into a little routine… morning out exploring, lunch out, then home for naps (if we were lucky) or a chilled-out afternoon around our own private pool. We chose to pay extra to have it heated which was a good plan with little ones as they spent hours splashing in the warm water with us. More importantly for me, it’s also completely enclosed behind a lockable gate from the patio so entirely safe.
The service – before our trip TotsToTravel set up a personal account so I could keep logging on and checking details (or pester them on the very useful live chat). And Deborah and her team at Villa Gran Canaria, who own the villa, were hugely helpful too. From getting directions in advance to leaving a charged-up mobile so you can call them easily if you need to, they solved every query and little problem we had – a brief water outage in the area, replacing the WiFi router part-way through, sorting extra toys and child plates…
The essentials kit – although this applies to all the TotsToTravel villas, it’s so incredibly helpful not having to transport lots of baby kit. Cots are fairly standard these days, but it goes way beyond that with bed guards, toddler toilet seats and steps, a swanky steriliser and bottle warmer, even having kids’ plates was a big bonus.
The location – set just off the main motorway, it was really quick to get everywhere, from the beaches on the south coast to the north of Gran Canaria. There was also a big supermarket and shopping centre nearby too – but as soon as we were back at the villa, it felt like we’d escaped the world completely. As the site says, you do really need your own car as otherwise taxis would be essential as even the small shop on site but is quite a walk from the villa.
The facilities – it turned out to be the little things I appreciated, especially the free bread delivery every morning (and bottle of wine in the welcome pack after a long flight). I loved the idea of having our own space but being able to use the resort’s facilities too, although in the end we didn’t make the most of the golf course, hotel’s restaurant or spa. Partly because we were enjoying our own peaceful villa (none of us cared too much about the golf, although it’s worth booking early for the hotel’s restaurant), but the resort is all fairly spread out so it’s not quite all on the doorstep. You can arrange babysitting too.
What’s not so good
The toys – there were a few baby toys and DVDs but not much to entertain indoors if the weather had been bad. Fortunately it wasn’t and we’d brought more than we needed anyway, but best not to rely on these.
The microwave/oven – although both worked, neither were brilliant so we tended to stick to simple meals which could be cooked on the hob (frankly all we needed after a massive lunch out). The BBQ also had a slight tendency to flame, although that didn’t stop us cooking outside on several nights – the lovely patio pretty much demands it.
The bath – a baby bath was provided, which was perfect for the 10-month-old, but there’s no fullsize bath in either bathroom for the two girls – the TotsToTravel listing does make that clear but it’s worth highlighting if you’ve got toddlers. Based on her giggles, Minnie had far more fun in the ‘tickly’ shower anyway after days of suntan lotion, sand and chlorine.
Disclosure: I received a discount on my stay from TotsToTravel. All opinions remain my own.
Gallery images courtesy of TotsToTravel. All other images and video copyright MummyTravels/Cathy Winston.