From time to time, reviews of hotels can be coloured by extra-mural holiday experiences - the weather is lousy, the surrounding resort doesn't match the pictures in the brochure, or other guests leave something to be desired - and the poor old hotel gets blamed for it all.
On our latest trip (visit No.3) to Jardin Tecina on La Gomera we had every reason to follow this subjective approach, given that before we’d even arrived we fell victim to very professional pickpockets in the ferry harbour at Los Cristianos on Tenerife, given that for two days while we were on La Gomera the entire Canaries region was in lockdown because of a colossal autumn storm, given that the Spanish air traffic controllers all called in sick shortly before our departure, and given that the tour operator on our semi-independent trip came up short when its services were most urgently needed.
HOWEVER… it is greatly to the credit of the hotel and its staff that even in the face of these setbacks we can give the Jardin Tecina a solid thumbs-up recommendation. The hotel is first-rate, worthy of its 4 stars and then some, and any complaints are really of the nitpicking variety.
The first of them is quite easily corrected. The buffet dinners were uniformly excellent, with a wide choice of salads, a carvery with different meats served each evening, some quite decent hot dishes, and more desserts - fruits and cakes and whatnot - than you could shake a stick at. However, the possibility of taking coffee from an automat in the dining room (rather than as an add-on afterthought in the bar) would be appreciated. It works well enough at breakfast, after all. By the way, the cava at breakfast is a nice touch.
The second quibble concerns Wi-Fi and is more difficult to rectify without some significant investment. Free Wi-Fi is offered in the lounge/lobby area only. The rest of the large hotel complex had no signal*. The addition of plug-in broadband or Wi-Fi in the rooms, even for a reasonable charge per stay, would be a real plus. I can only assume that it is: a) expensive, and b) that the hotel management had done their sums and calculated that not enough customers really require it. Hence it might be best to wire selected rooms rather than the entire area, and thus allow those guests who may need to work or respond to mail the chance to do so. Sitting in the lobby armchairs, often without a place to plug in, is not the best way of working on a laptop.
Now the positives.
The hotel has more than 400 rooms but does not feel factory-like, mainly because it is spread over a vast area and so avoids long, soulless corridors in favour of spacious 2-storey villa-like apartment accommodation. The gardens are also lush and well-tended, giving an overall sensation of refined elegance. The cliff-top location is naturally spectacular, and many of the rooms without a direct sea view have the compensation of fine vistas of an occasionally snow-capped Mount Teide (on Tenerife). At night, the lighting on paths is adequate but also allows for the stars to be shown off to good effect.
The pool areas are also pleasant and on none of our three visits to date - including one busy Christmas week - have they seemed cramped or overcrowded. The pool bar has a nice feel to it, too. The complimentary towel system works efficiently, provided you do not lose your card. There is a lifeguard on duty, though he seems to spend most of his time dealing out the towels, since the predominantly “50-plus” German, Scandinavian, & British clientèle are not the sort who generally require much guidance or control.
The seaside Club Laurel area at the foot of the cliffs (access by keycard-operated elevator) is also very attractive and a sun-trap on warm days, though it suffered somewhat from a violent storm in October 2010, and was not at its best during our stay. The à la carte restaurant down there (not included in the half-board package) also offered excellent “splurge” dining when we tried it on earlier visits.
The hotel staff are without exception both friendly and extremely helpful, and there is no shortage of them, in the customer service and maintenance spheres alike. The overall ambience is relaxed and yet efficient, and even in the hurly-burly of a crowded buffet restaurant there are more than enough waiters to serve wines and clear away plates without delay. We recognised many familiar staff faces from earlier trips in 2006 and 2007, which is a very good sign, as is the fact that so many of the guests themselves are “repeaters” (several with FAR more visits under their belt than us). Somebody is clearly doing something right for this to happen.
Rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, and the addition of tea- & coffee-making facilities on our last visit was a distinct improvement. TV reception was so-so, but the selection of channels covered all the usual suspects in several languages, and there are pay-per-view film channels. Getting a superior room with a sea view is not a must, but there is clearly an advantage to being on the upper floor rather than the lower, as those downstairs rooms with terrace rather than balcony do suffer from a certain lack of privacy as other guests stroll by. Odd numbers tend to signify upper floor rooms. Most returning guests have already ascertained the nicest rooms on previous visits, and the staff do try their best to look after their wishes.
The real benefits in kind of being a member of the Club Tecina loyalty programme only start to kick in a bit later, but there are some nice freebies even on one’s third visit, including attractive room-rates and ferry advantages that encourage independent travelling rather than “taking a package”. It ought to be noted that even on our first visit there was absolutely no impression of our being treated as “anonymous paxes” - something that is not always a foregone conclusion, even in the best-ranked of large holiday hotels.
This is NOT necessarily a great establishment or location for a week of up-till-dawn singles clubbing and roasting oneself to a delicate shade of beetroot-red on a white sand beach. Nor is it absolutely ideal for families with teenagers in tow, or even perhaps 18-35s with tots. The fault does not lie so much with the Jardin Tecina itself, but in the first case La Gomera is NOT Ibiza and it never will be, and in the second most of the hotel guests are from the older end of the age-spectrum, meaning that they appreciate their own grandchildren, but not always other people’s kids.
Having said all this, apparently there is some kind of Mini-Club arrangement for families, which may come into its own more during the summer holidays. Nevertheless, it is only fair to be forewarned that there are lots of steps and gradients in the hotel area to hamper people pushing strollers or buggies, that there are no Aqualand water parks or bungee-jumping facilities or go-kart tracks (yet) on La Gomera, that the island's black sand and shingle beaches are nothing to write home about, and that evening entertainment is sedate rather than sensational.
A leisurely stroll down to the village of Playa de Santiago for a nightcap or digestif will do you good and save you money - the bar prices there are a good deal more customer-friendly. I would nevertheless still go with the hotel’s half-board, even at the risk of feeling tied to the place - the food is good and the price is about right.
But enough of what it is NOT. The Jardin Tecina is on the other hand a very fine spot for winding down in a completely stress-free atmosphere and an excellent base for walking and hiking on what is a lovely and unspoilt island, and it is also ideal if you fancy some golf on the friendly and very beautiful Tecina Golf 18-hole course, though the green-fees are not cheap, even with a hotel residents’ 15% discount.
An efficient shuttle bus service gets you to the golf course and back, though it is only a few hundred metres from the hotel and easily walkable. The 4th, 10th, and 12th holes are memorable, and the views on the front nine in particular are magnificent.
Aside from the rugged and spectacular landscape and the Garajonay National Park, the big draw of the island of La Gomera (and one that must only be whispered lest the magic be spoiled) is that it is still uninfected in terms of the sort of mass tourism one finds just a 45-minute ferry ride away over the water. If you have been to the fleshpots of Gran Canaria, or Lanzarote, or Tenerife, then La Gomera is “a very untypical Canary Island”.
In sum, the Jardin Tecina is not for everyone, but we like the place a lot, and would heartily recommend it to our friends. Next time we’ll be a lot more careful in Los Cristianos and will probably also book a slightly longer stay: the one disadvantage of being "far from the madding crowd" like this is naturally in the getting there and getting back. A week’s holiday in Jardin Tecina inevitably gets noticeably shortened in the travelling at both ends, especially if the smaller Fred Olsen ferry that drops you conveniently in Playa de Santiago is out of service owing to rough seas. Some might like to try meshing flights in to Tenerife Norte (Santa Cruz) with the twin-prop planes of Binter Canarias that fly to and from Playa de Santiago’s tiny airport twice a day. This could prove a quicker - if costlier - alternative.
Lastly, a special mention here for the hotel’s public relations staff, in particular Ann, who was most courteous and helpful in offering shelter from the storms (both climatic and wallet-snatch-related) and did everything and more than it says on the PR tin.
(*Stayed November 2010 - comments reflect situation then)
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Priceline, Cancelon, Cheap Tickets, TripOnline SA, getaroom.com and Evoline ltd so you can book your Hotel Jardin Tecina reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Jardin Tecina Playa De Santiago
- Hotel Jardin Tecina La Gomera/Playa De Santiago