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In the first of a two-part series, Sarah Dawson visits Gran Canaria to find out what the island offers in the way of revitalising wellness breaks throughout the year.

Sunshine and Spas in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is the largest of Spain’s seven Canary Islands located off the coast of Morocco. French. Since the 60s and 70s, the island’s southern resorts; Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas, Meloneras and San Agustin have been a playground for the Brits, Germans, Scandinavians and the French. And now, this oceanic gem, which enjoys a micro-climate averaging 24ºC all year-round, is reinventing itself as an alluring spa destination. 

My wellness weekend, organised by the Gran Canaria Spa, Wellness and Health Association began with a Thursday afternoon four-hour flight from London Gatwick. We were met by our chauffeur Christian, who was to escort us to some of the island’s hottest spas over the following days. 

We were hosted at the four-star Gloria Palace San Agustin Hotel – a formidable nine-storey complex in the San Bartolome de Tirajana neighbourhood of San Agustin. With 364 double rooms, 86 family rooms and 16 junior suites it’s ideal for family groups and couples. It also boasts the island’s largest thalasso spa, where a two-hour ‘Get in Shape’ treatment costs just €20 and an all day Special Thalasso costs €137. 

I loved the contemporary décor in the hotel’s lobby and the simplicity and comfort in our room on the eighth floor with its spacious balcony boasting 180º views spanning the bay of San Agustin. Later that evening, the sophisticated 9th floor Chill out Terrace transported us into a world of comfy reclining sofas with plumped up cushions, ambient tunes, delicious cocktails and star twinkled views. 

The following morning we visited the hotel’s indoor Thalasso Spa, where we had a short ‘taster’ of the seawater jets followed by a holistic massage in white-washed cabin styled treatment rooms. My female therapist’s professional and well-honed technique soothed away stress and tension from a busy working week. 

The Gloria Palace San Agustin is one of three four-star hotels in the Gloria Palace chain. Just a short drive from San Agustin on the coastline of Mogan is sister hotel Gloria Palace Amadores, which also featured a thalassotherapy centre and spa, along with 364 double rooms, 21 family rooms and seven suites. With fewer family rooms than its San Agustin counterpart and a more modern décor and design, the hotel tends to attract a younger, discerning clientele. 

The Gloria Palace Amadores also boasts a superb alfresco top floor restaurant with stunning panoramic views and impeccable food and service. Our waiter served up dish after dish of mouth-watering tapas dishes; tortilla (Spanish omelette), goat’s cheese salad, and the island’s speciality, papas arrugadas with mojo rojo sauce (red peppers, garlic, cumin) followed by fresh seafood; bream, bass and prawns served sizzling hot with garlic and oil. The third and smallest hotel in the chain is the Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa at Tamara, near Amadores beach, which has 176 double rooms, 13 junior suites and six presidential and two royal suites. 

After lunch, our chauffeur Christian escorted us to the chic fishing port of Puerto Mogan, on the south coast’s most westerly point. We called in at the Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa, a charismatic hotel with a four stars-plus rating, in a beautiful setting nestled between great volcanic mountains and the ocean. 

Puerto Mogan is a sub-tropical valley and a sophisticated resort for the discriminating tourist. You can enjoy safe swimming and snorkelling from a protected beach, take a gentle amble along the port and marina and try delicious fresh seafood, especially tuna. With the area’s many canals and bridges you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Venice, rather than a Spanish island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and is why the marina is called La Paquena Venecia – ‘Little Venice’. 

The hotel’s architecture has an impressive impact, as has the property’s 48,000 square metres of lush botanic gardens with enormous silver green palm trees from Madagascar surrounded by omnipresent pink and purple bougainvillea. The hotel grounds lead directly down to the beach, and have many peaceful leafy spots – ideal for couples seeking quiet and intimacy. 

The surrounding scenery is unrivalled; daunting mountains with cliff top drives and hair-raising bends. An extra attraction – especially for those with an interest in history – is that the hotel sits beside some archaeological grounds, ‘Las Crucecitas’, where the ancient relics of the Guanches, the first settlers on the island, remain untouched. 

The hotel’s Inagua Spa is small but superbly managed with a lovely holistic feel. Hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, colour and music therapy, along with traditional and oriental techniques are all tailored to guests’ individual needs. 

I was booked in for the Facial Aqua (60 minutes, for €60) and in a brightly lit room with small top shutter windows I felt immediately comfortable. My beauty therapist didn’t ask about my skin type, but intuitively seemed to know which products I needed, and I was very impressed with the glowing results. 

The spa is located in the middle of the botanical gardens and we were told that its hydrothermal spa circuit is great for strengthening the cardiovascular and immune system. I greatly enjoyed the spa experience at the Inagua, save for the fact that some of the hotel rooms overlook the pool/hydro spa so it didn’t feel absolutely private. 

Gloria Palace San Agustin Thalasso & Hotels (four star)
Talasoterapia Canarias San Agustin
c/ Las Margartas, s/n – San Agustin
Tel: +34 928 765 689Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa (four stars)
Playa de Amadores
Tel: +34 928 128 505Gloria Palace Amadores Thalasso & Hotels (four star)
Talasoterapia Canarias Amadores
c/ La Palma, 2 – Puerto Rico, Amadores
Tel: +34 928 128 522
Website for all three hotels: www.gloriapalaceth.comHotel Cordial Mogan Playa (four stars+)
Spa & Wellness Inagua
Avenida de Los Marrero, 2 – Puerto do Mogan
Tel: +34 928 724 100’s trip was arranged by the Gran Canaria Spa, Wellness & Health Association. Tel: +34 608 722 408
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