Reading the previous reviews - we were fortunate not to have weather-induced 24-hour delays experienced by others unlucky enough to arrive during the reported dreadful weather before our holiday!
I cannot begin this review without commenting on the dreadful start of our holiday at the hand of Thomson Holidays Ltd. 1kg overweight on our cumulative hold baggage resulted in a £12 excess baggage fee... the payment of which resulted in a 24p credit card processing fee! The flight was on time but seats were dreadfully cramped for me (my wife, somewhat shorter than 6', had sufficient space). We arrived in Tenerife at 11:20: I have never experienced bags presented so slowly. Initially we amused ourselves with visions of a little man running back and forth from the plane - the belt moved at the usual speed but bags were being placed on the belt with at least 30' between each one. So slow was this process (and it never accelerated!) at least two of our fellow passengers/guests actually missed the 14:00 ferry! After we had finally retrieved our hold baggage, Thomson's 'A La Carte' representative's stand-in merely handed us a 'Dear BLANK' letter and travel vouchers to La Gomera. The 'Private Transfer' taxi, a 12/15 seater mini-bus dropped on the quay at Los Cristianos. No rep to meet us - it was very much do-it-yourself. We had 2 X 20kg suitcases, our hand-luggage and extra outer clothes we had needed at 5 in the morning in the UK, a wad of Euro notes, our credit cards, but no €1 coins which (if we had known about them) were needed for avaricious Fred Olsen's baggage-lockers. Eventually we boarded the visually space-age ferry and struggled up the narrow staircase to the open deck at the rear. Arrival at La Gomera was similarly un-supported by Thomson.
HOTEL At the hotel we joined a long and rather slow queue. If you don't expect anything you won't be disappointed, but after a 4 hour transfer (not 2 hr 30 minutes as in the Thomson A La Carte Brochure suggests), a soft drink would have been welcomingly refreshing as we waited.
ACCOMMODATION On the main drag 'Jacaranda', we were regularly disturbed by the whine of electric tugs and workmen's communications as mentioned in others' reviews. Although this wasn't a problem for us, it might have been more fitting had we been allocated a rather more minor pathway having asked for a 'quiet room'. Notwithstanding, we have never stayed at such a quiet hotel... They were obviously busy (witness the numbers of guests in the Principle Restaurant) but the masses of people seemed to vanish during the day.
Our Superior Room was quite adequate; immaculately clean; a bath/shower with ample hot water, loo, bidet and hand wash basin with two bath, two bidet and two hand towels, and a single flannel - attractively shaped as a swan. The room servicing was fine except that by the end of week-one we had 'lost' the flannel and the two bidet towels... no real problem - we can manage very well with hand and bath towels, just odd!
We asked for an extra pillow on arrival, it hadn't arrived so we phoned again. Imagine our surprise when, whilst we were at dinner, slipped under the door was a note that our rental car would be delivered at 10am the next day. We telephoned Reception and told them we were still awaiting a pillow (and that we hadn't ordered a car). The pillow arrived a short time later: I do wonder if the person who ordered the car ever got it!
The balcony, as others have noted, is very small and not at all private, we regularly exchanged pleasantries with one couple from Sweden; the guests to our other side used to disappear inside without a word as soon as we opened our balcony door.
Safety Deposit Boxes, even in Superior Rooms, have a €2/day charge... a little greedy on the part of the hotel.
Similarly, despite FREE Wi-Fi signs everywhere, for those of us without an iPhone there is supposed to be a computer suite (which is out of order) so we are compelled to use the "Information" office computer. A charge is levied for this too: €1 for each 20 minutes. For those with Laptops/iPhones, the coverage seemed sketchy at best. Free: I don't think so!
COMMUNICATION Some of the staff were very helpful, some very friendly, but most didn't understand English terribly well. My Spanish (and my 'El Silbo') isn't up to much, so I'm afraid the language difficulties made our stay frustrating at times. I don't think it was entirely a language issue - the staff didn't seem to be briefed on what was happening, where or when. A further example: the Aqua Gym was scheduled to be every day (except Thursdays and Fridays) at both the main pool and Club Laurel (salt water) pool. Due to the preceding week's poor weather, Club Laurel pool was closed but we were told that the activities scheduled there were to be held in the main pool. The Pool Life Guard didn't know where Aqua Gym was, neither did Reception who referred us to the Gym Booking Desk, where, as others report, there were rarely any staff available. So we made sure we were at the pool at the allotted time... No Aqua! (Presumably, no call for it!)
MEALS Many reviewers have represented meal times as a scrum. I would be kinder to my fellow guests, most of whom were polite and courteous... there was certainly a feeling of being in a dodgems ring at times... Breakfast was very busy, a wonderful spread with the most gorgeous, small, extremely-tasty dried figs, stoned dates and wonderful local bananas (like they used to be in the UK). Ordering a cup of tea was dangerous - often, but not always, turning out to be a herbal mix of some variety. (You rarely get a decent cuppa abroad.)
Dinner in the Principal Restaurant was extensive and surprisingly varied. It was unfortunate that there were never hot plates (although good quality napkins might suggest there should have been) so dinner was never hot, mostly just warm by the time one had negotiated the queues: excepting this failing, the presentation and food quality were very good. Desserts were tasty and varied (with inappropriately warm plates, sometimes). Evidently, there's no fresh cream available on the island but there was a good variety of ice-cream.
We had a further example of language difficulties when we booked the International Restaurant (waited service) for one evening. As half-board guests we were led to understand that using this restaurant was merely a case of booking a table, no extra charge. On checking-out, I was surprised to note an additional €12 charge for this meal. The service and peace and quiet made a pleasant change from the Principle Restaurant, but the meal was no better and considerably smaller.
FIRE During our first week we became well trained on the normal response to hearing the hotel's Fire Alarm. During our second evening the fire alarm sounded. I was surprised at the lack of other guests' and staff's response. I stood, however, ready to leave the restaurant before the alarm was silenced. This happened on two further occasions that night, a number of times on two subsequent evenings and once at breakfast. This 'training' of both staff and guests to ignore the fire alarm is unprofessional, irresponsible and down-right disturbing on so many levels. Management should be able to isolate zones if they must have indoor barbecues. If it is a regular occurrence, rate-of-rise detectors would be more appropriate than normal smoke detectors. On no account should a fire alarm system be sounded without some meaningful explanation. It is not on for staff to dismiss my concerns with 'No worry: if problem, follow me."
ENTERTAINMENT In the evenings the downstairs bar under Reception has regular live music and dancing... the El Silbo (whistled language of Silbo Gomero) demonstration one evening is really impressive! On another evening Acrobats perform wonders in such a small area: really professional. Upstairs there is a piano bar where Anna Tina plays light music and guests' requests each evening. On one evening per week (may be Wednesday) she does a simple and rather fun music quiz... it's very clever the way that each answer is worth a different number of points (for reasons which will be obvious if you take part).
WALKS/TRIPS Thomson offered no support at the resort.
On the Wednesday of our first week we attended the Jardin Tecina's own Botanical Walk "In three hours around the world without leaving the hotel." Hans, who guided the walk, was so enthusiastic, so knowledgeable, so interesting and so amusing! If you do nothing else, attend this 'walk'. You don't need walking boots or even shoes! I would be surprised if we covered more than 300 yards, but we certainly went round the world!
On Thursday's he accompanies a walk of the nearby banana plantation (and advocado plantation, if you have a keen party). It's not far, 500 yards total, but you will need shoes on this one.
We booked two 'hikes' through the Hotel Reception with Timah (www.timah.net). Of the two we did, the first was a serious endeavour. Thankfully we had brought our walking boots and walking poles. Tuesday's walk was 10k in the Rain Forest (El Cedro) with phenomenally steep slopes and seemingly miles of steps, some rather slippery, some gravelly, lots of roots and loose boulders. It was not easy, but the views and tour guides' knowledge made it a great day out... (This is not the opinion of my wife's calves! )
On Thursday we completed the Forest of Fables, 9km, very much easier walking after the first descent/ascent. Once again, you would need to wear walking boots and have considerable stamina. The flowers on the former farming terraces were stunningly beautiful; the views, without care, one could easily slip and die for! We finished this trip at Valle Gran Rey where ice-creams, beer and very welcome toilets are available. On the subject of toilets - there aren't any on either of these two walks: you either have to have an extremely strong bladder of be happy to go 'au natural'.
LOCAL TRANSPORT (There is a daily aeroplane to La Gomera just after 10am.) On the days the flight comes in there's a bus some 20 minutes later (bus stop is left out of the hotel, left at the T junction and 100 yards down the hill on the bend) bound for Playa de Sandiago. This service is not listed on the time-table! (Leave the hotel when the plane flies over). It's far more convenient than the 07:30 bus and there are busses back in the afternoon, Linea 2, 15:30, 18:30 and 20:30.
TRANSFER On Wednesday evening before our planned departure on Friday, Thomson faxed an instruction letter indicating that we leave the hotel at 06:00 on Friday to catch the 15:40 flight from Tenerife! Thomson's A La Carte brochure says 'TRANSFER TIME 2 hours 30 minutes incl a ferry crossing.' (not 9 hours!) Were we to have complied with their directions we would have been compelled to pack our baggage the previous night and have it shuttled to reception luggage room (for the night-time/early-morning peace and quiet of our fellow guests); we would have had the inconvenience of having to add our night clothes, tooth-paste and potions, etc. with our hand luggage and clothes for the UK; we would have had to hang around with all our baggage at Tenerife Airport for hours...
There is an alternative ferry run by Armas which leaves at 11:30, arrives Tenerife at 12:30 giving ample time to transfer the few miles to the airport from Los Christianos - say 13:00 to check in for our 15:40 flight. Why wasn't this proposed by Thomson Holidays? The hotel Reception tried and tried to fax my response letter to Thomson's fax number in Tenerife... busy for over an hour and a half; later, no answer. Hotel Reception tried the Thomson 24/7 Help-Line... they got an answering machine! A La Carte? - more "Unfit for Purpose" and "Not As Described".
We considered that this ill-conceived transfer arrangement must affect many hotel guests and appealed for the hotel to contact Thomson... an action they weren't prepared to take. I was quite surprised by their position: reviews like this one must act against their better interests, deterring potential guests.
Without their proactive support, it was back to DIY. The next morning (Thursday) we were still unable to contact our local rep by fax, nor telephone or text message. With the assistance of the hotel, we called the Thomson 24/7 line and, together with another couple, we categorically rejected their ridiculous transfer arrangements.
Ultimately, we took the transfer that we had researched and proposed, leaving our hotel after our lovely breakfast at 10 o'clock. The Armas' ferry was a far better organised operation than Fred Olsen's. For no cost they took our bags from us and loaded them into their van; the trip was an hour as opposed to 40 minutes, but was far more relaxing; the baggage was off-loaded for us at Los Cristianos. I think it was cheaper too, although we used our voucher - so didn't benefit from this saving.
This hotel and the area in which it is situated is so quiet and peaceful. Were it not for the poor communications with and between staff, the extensive transfer times which are misrepresented in the Thomson brochures, and the hotel's apathetic response to our requests for their support over the ridiculous 6am transfer suggestion, I would have given a better grading.
COME AGAIN? We would return to Jardin Tecina for the peace and quiet, but it won't be with Thomson. In view of the DIY nature of this trip we would consider doing it ourselves, saving a great deal of stress trying in vain to contact inept and apathetic Thomson staff.
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- Also Known As:
- Jardin Tecina Playa De Santiago
- Hotel Jardin Tecina La Gomera/Playa De Santiago