We spent two weeks at Atlantic Sands, Gran Canaria in July 2012. I may be sticking my neck out here, but when a resort chooses to call itself 'Atlantic Sands' you might be forgiven for expecting at least one of the two words to be relevant to its location. Disappointingly Atlantic Sands is a significant distance from the Atlantic and all around the complex is dust (not sand) - (from the extensive building site to all sides). The walk down to the water’s edge was approx. 15 minutes (no beach – just water & boulders – it’s another 10-15 minutes’ walk from there to the nearest tourist beach) and had pavement some of the way. Sunglasses were mandatory for this walk, not for the sun, but to stop the dust blowing into your eyes from the procession of cement mixers and lorries thundering up and down the lane to the building site where Atlantic Sands is situated. It's fair to say we were very disappointed with the location of Atlantic Sands. Whose honest name should really be something along the lines of 'Dustbowl Valley'.
So, once recovered from the shock of the location, how about the complex itself...
Accommodation: Actually this was really nice, well appointed and modern. The marble floors and stairs landed up being a bit of a concern for our 2 year old as they became instantly slippy with wet feet from the pool. Big gripes were that the air conditioning was broken - succession of suspect explanations for this from reps & complex mgmt. In the summer months it’s just too hot here without the aircon. We did manage to ‘hack into the aircon’ – i.e. lift a flap & switch it on despite the resort failing to supply the remote control units, but alas this basically caused a small flood in the room they were used in – this was especially concerning in our daughters’ bedroom where the water from the aircon unit trickled down the wall and through a power socket before pooling on the marble floor next to her bed!! Because the aircon was broken the resort had supplied massive industrial scale fans for the apartments (if you had a mind to, you could strap these to your back and fly off to one of the other islands for the day - such was the ridiculous over-power of these fans). We also noted that our 2 year old could easily insert his fingers between the guards, and had we allowed the fans to actually be used when he was around, we feared he may loose a couple of digits to the massive metal blades rotating at about 500 miles per hour. Not safe. The resort staff were friendly and courteous when we raised the issues, but clearly had no authority or inclination to sort out any of these problems.
Pool: This was very good for us. There was lots of shallow end in the main pool and an additional baby pool perfect for our 2 year old. There was sufficient deep end to keep our 8 year old happy. Lovely temperature and appeared to be relatively clean. Of course sometimes we had to shout to each other in the pool, to be heard over the noise of the drilling, banging, sawing etc. from the work being done on one of the blocks of apartments right next to the pool. Many of the sun-loungers were broken and in need of more maintenance than I was able to give them by bending the frame around with my bare hands.
Poor bar: Most of the staff at the pool bar were really friendly and couldn’t do enough for you. The menu though was straight out of an east end café, with virtually nothing to give you the impression of being on a Spanish Island (really – how hard is it to cook garlic prawns or chorizo). Presuming you are planning on going there because you have been offered some ‘deal’, you will find out that the lunch vouchers included in this ‘deal’ permit you to have just the ‘special’ lunch…which is perhaps also the wrong name for this, with a more appropriate name being something like ‘the cheapest & least appetising lunch we can possibly rustle up'. Also be warned that the timeshare reps (who by the way presume they actually own the resort themselves) like to sit around the pool bar to impress their guests (guests = poor suckers who scratched off a ‘winning’ card down at the beach, and have been conned back for an attempted forced sale). The reps really don’t like people using the pool, as there is a risk of them getting their high-heels and/or trousers wet if someone forgets that the pool is just a sales prop, and actually jumps in or throws a ball or something.
Evening entertainment: Haphazard, poorly advertised, poorly attended and tacky. However kids loved it and I did dance once after sufficient lubrication.
Surrounding area: We had a car. A car is absolutely essential if you happen to land up staying at ‘Atlantic Sands’. Don’t rely on the courtesy taxi that they claim is part of the ‘deal’ – when we were there the minibuses/taxis were all off the road due to some insurance problem. Driving is fine in the area, and the roads are fairly well signposted – we only got lost once. We used the car on a daily basis both to buy essentials from the next village, and to drive to Playa Amadores which was our beach of choice during our holiday. Playa Amadores is a nice horseshoe bay, bright blue water, nice sand for the kids to play, and loads of good cafes / restaurants / beach shops. We’d also recommend Mogan for a good day out. Lots of watersports on offer in the surrounding resorts too.
Booking experience: This perhaps annoyed me the most, since I had specifically asked the booking company ‘Resorts 4all’ (whom we had contacted to follow up a Groupon / KGB offer) to confirm that the ‘offer’ was not related to timeshare or equivalent. Well they basically lied to me. While you will be told by the reps it is not timeshare, it is certainly an equivalent arrangement. When it came to the ‘timeshare talk’ – we were quite straight with the rep, and to her credit she backed off and we had no pushy sales confrontation. Oh, and there was the little point that we had actually booked to be at Club Puerto Atlantico, which actually IS next to the sea, however had been moved to ‘Atlantic Sands’ without any discussion/agreement. When I complained, they said that I’d been done a favour and that ‘Atlantic Sands’ was much better, and anyway there were no 2 bedroom apartments in the other place, so Resorts 4all were probably always planning on putting you in Atlantic Sands. Doesn’t leave a great taste in the mouth to be deceived like this.
In summary, there are approximately a gzillion better places to go for your holidays. The dishonesty of the booking staff at Resorts4all was frankly staggering. The isolation of the complex eventually didn’t bother us too much as we just drove away from it to find civilisation when needed. The apartments and the pool area are pleasant enough. We wont be back to ‘Atlantic Sands’ – I think I prefer the Balearics!