The Sandos San Blas hotel, just on the outskirts of Los Abrigos (El Abrigo), encompasses a hidden treasure - its very own Nature Reserve.
The story goes that the original plans for the hotel were that it was to be Hawaiian themed. As excavation commenced for the hotel's golf course, two thousand year old artifacts were uncovered together with evidence of a historical society stretching back thousands of years. Accordingly, the hotel was redesigned to incorporate these lands of hidden wonders as part of the hotel amenities. Now the hotel is an eco-hotel and the reserve has been laid out in paths of natural stone and made accessible to the public.
You can access the hotel through the Museum desk on Level 2 and book a guided two hour tour of the Reserve and the museum. This costs just €5 per person and is amazing value for money.
You are first brought to the museum part of the Hotel where you watch a short video presentation on four screens, positioned on four walls. This is about the evolution of the flora and fauna in that area, and also a little about the people. As the video deals with various aspects, lighting illuminates different artifacts in glass cases around the room. Seating is on stools that swivel in whatever direction you want. Then the lights come on and you have an opportunity to examine the items up close. The whole thing is very effective.
You then walk from the hotel, cross the road, and enter the reservation. A guided tour takes you through this amazing landscape for about an hour. Each guest is equipped with a little radio mike system so to communicate with the guide and other guests. The pace is fairly fast and the terrain is rough, especially for the first 20 mins, so be prepared. I brought a bag with water, sun hat etc - forget it! It's too cumbersome in steep rough terrain. Bring a camera with a neck strap, stout walking shoes, and nothing else - but DO NOT forget the camera!!!!
After 20 mins the ground levels out a bit and the paths widen. You are then treated to about four different "shows" where actors perform different displays of life in the area a hundred or so years ago. Each "show" is unexpected and spaced out from the previous one. It's as if you come upon them as you walk.
Apart from the moonlike landscape, you will also cross a lake by raft and visit a beautiful waterfall.
We visited in late summer when everything was very dry - indeed there's a second waterfall which had dried up but is very prolific in Winter. I was disappointed that I didn't have any flora and fauna shots as such, and I would like to go back in my own time and in less arid months. I understand that there is no difficulty in exploring the reservation without a guide.
To round up the "trip" we went back to the hotel and into "the tunnel". This consists of a series of interconnecting rooms where different things happen. Again, it's on an interactive basis. I was most impressed with room one, where we were treated to a display of an erupting volcano. including real life earth tremor effects and the smell of cloying smoke.
The hotel has put an enormous amount of effort into exhibiting these wonders of nature. I have read reviews where people have knocked the eco element of this hotel - but I must ask whether or not they have actually walked through the reserve or taken in the museum? A full bibliography is exhibited detailing the names of the highly respected scientists and historians who were consulted regarding the construction of the facility. In addition to this, a number of elderly local people gave their input by way of personal anecdote.
Please, do not miss this amazing facility! I cannot rate it highly enough. Trips run between 9.30 and 12.30 each day and you must book in advance in the language of your choice. Tours in Spanish, English, and German are standard but special trips can be organised in other languages.
Small but excellently situated (aren't they all :), good service and one of the places were VAT was included to prices. The place served us the cheapest dinner (starters, main course and a bottle of wine and water) just a little bit above 40€ per two.
Favorite Dish: The order: Tuna Salad, Prowns, Risotto Marinara and Spaghetti Scolio.
Good value for money with friendly service, give it a try, you won't regret it.
La Proa is the supposedly speciality restaurant of the San Blas Hotel. As a guest of the hotel, if you are on All Inclusive board, you are entitled to two dinners at this establishment. It's also open to bookings from members of the public, but I can't think why outsiders would want to eat here.
I understand that it started life as an a la carte restaurant specialising in seafood. The lovely empty bubbling tanks are still in evidence, but that's really where the a la carte ends. I don't know what happened to the original idea - maybe it wasn't a real success? - but the premises is now a supposedly themed restaurant offering a choice of Mediterranean themed food or Mexican themed. Just before that it was Mexican and Chinese, but they recently dropped the Chinese option.
As options go, when you reserve your table, you must indicate whether you intend to eat Mexican or Mediterranean - that's a bit much when you haven't yet seen the menu!
On arrival you are likely to be initially impressed as the building is very attractive architecturally and the decor is bright and airy. There's a view out to sea and tables are well spaced. Perhaps you'll be a little confused when the menu is presented on a photocopied A4 sheet - then you realise that half of this sheet is the Mediterranean choice and the other the Mexican. Speaking of choice, there's very little - two starters, two main courses, and three desserts on each menu. I watched people get up and leave, ordering nothing.
The main advantage of eating here is that there's table service as opposed to the hotel buffet service plus they're a bit more attentive when it comes to filling your wine glass.
This restaurant really needs to buck up or it's going to seriously damage the Hotel's efforts to present itself as five star.
When one considers the excellent standards of the buffet restaurant in the same hotel, the supposedly superior restaurant has standards that are in a different (lower) league.
Favorite Dish: We ate here twice, so I had one Mexican meal and one Mediterranean. I must admit that the food wasn't bad at all, and the only thing I was really disappointed in was the dryness of the chicken in my tacos and the tiny portion of guacamole.
Having eaten there for the second time, I noted that there's a bit of an overlap in the dishes being served. For example, the avocado in the avocado and prawn Med starter is a portion of the guacamole served with the Mex tacos. Similarly the prawns in the Med dish also feature in the prawn and octopus ceviche type Mex dish.
On the positive side, the steak on the Mex main was very tasty as was the salmon on the European.
Desserts are a bit of a disaster - e.g. an exotic fruit salad that consists of chopped melon and served with an alleged lemon sorbet that turns out to be vanilla ice cream!
This is the main restaurant in the Sandos San Blas Hotel in Los Abrigos, Tenerife. It is geared towards the hotel guests, most of whom are on an All Inclusive basis.
Although it's designed to seat perhaps 600 people, the layout is so good that you don't notice most of the time. The restaurant is sectioned off into two different round buildings, and a third housing the kitchen area. All are interconnected to a central buffet where the food is displayed and some food is cooked in front of you.
Architecturally the building is very interesting and indeed the roof of each section is incorporated into the gardens above and planted with indigenous species of flora. I was also fascinated by the spectacular modern multicolored chandeliers in each section of the building.
The restaurant opens five times a day - breakfast from 7.30am to 10.30am; snacks from 11am to 12 noon; lunch from 1pm to 3pm; snacks from 5pm to 6pm; and dinner from 7.30pm to 10pm.
You can choose where to sit and a waiter is assigned to your table where your drinks order is taken and quickly delivered. It should be noted that waiters will not come back to offer you a refill or a further drink, though these are brought quite rapidly if you indicate your desire for more.
At breakfast they will bring you coffee and milk, but most of the waiters will not bring you tea, which you must fetch yourself from the buffet. I found this mildly irritating, especially when they refused to fetch the tea for my elderly Mum.
The food is not quite the typical buffet style, especially because of the extent of the dishes cooked to order as you watch. A typical dinner presentation would be a salad buffet (which became more interesting and adventurous as our vacation progressed), two hot soups and one cold, freshly baked breads, four types of fish (two or three cooked to order), a joint of the day (usually beef, veal, pork, or leg of lamb), four types of meat (two cooked to order), an oriental type dish, a selection of four different types of pizza, three or four types of pasta, four types of vegetable, three or four types of potato, and a dessert table to destroy any diet (three types of ice cream, maybe 12 types of cake, mousse, gateau etc., sliced melon and mango, tinned fruit, and a huge display of fresh fruit.
Lunch is a smaller variation of dinner i.e. a smaller selection of dishes. You will never find the same dishes served for lunch and dinner on the one day - ditto with the soups. I was, however, disappointed that there was no selection of cold meats at lunchtime as that's what I prefer at that time of day, not another mini dinner.
Breakfast is a feast of hot and cold foods with orange and tropical juices, fresh bread, four or five types of danish pastries, freshly made pancakes, fresh and tinned fruits, cold meats, smoked fish etc. One thing I didn't like about this meal was that yogurts are served from vat like bowls. I prefer the little tubs.
The snack times are for things like hot dogs, chips, cold meats and bread, juices, tea, coffee, and pastries.
Favorite Dish: I found that the hotel kitchen made more and more of an effort as the two weeks passed. This is a fantastic sign of any establishment.
While I was there they introduced made to order pancakes (sweet and savoury) at dinner time. They also started to introduce new types of salad (e.g. insalata caprese, cold curried mussels, seafood mixes with vegetables etc.). When we arrived in the beginning the salads were boring - plates of tomato, lettuce, sliced egg etc.
For an all inclusive hotel buffet the standards are very high indeed.
One word of warning is that the hotel gets extremely busy with an influx of Spanish at the weekends and the restaurant then becomes a mad house. My advice would be to go early for your meals and you will avoid the rush.