My wife and I, together with our 9 year old daughter, stayed at the Riu Garoe from the 8th to the 15th April 2008. Here’s our review of the hotel together with some brief suggestions for things to do.
The Garoe is a well-maintained hotel with friendly, accommodating staff and a good standard of cuisine. Although situated on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz, getting to the town centre is quick and inexpensive. The hotel and the locality are ideal for both families with children and older travellers but not for young singles looking for an active nightlife. Also, look elsewhere if you’d feel uncomfortable with the prospect of being the only English guests in a hotel patronised almost exclusively by Germans.
1. THE HOTEL
The coach journey from Tenerife South Airport to the hotel took just over an hour. Courtesy of Thomsonfly, we had been stuck at Gatwick airport for over fourteen hours and so finally arrived at the Hotel Riu Garoe at 4.00 am. The hotel entrance is bright and well-maintained but not particularly imposing (see photo). Although our party of three were the only guests alighting at this hotel, a receptionist and porter were waiting up for us and we were given a warm and friendly welcome. On entering our room, we noticed they had been thoughtful enough to leave a large buffet meal (protected by cling film), including a bottle of red wine and a fanta orange juice. The half bottle of cava and the basket of fruit, which other Tripadvisor reviewers had found on arrival, had been left too.
1.2 Our Room
1.2.1 Main Area
Our hotel room was spotlessly clean and looked like it had been recently refurbished (see photo). The room was a standard size and fine for two people. However, with the addition of the extra bed for our daughter, a minor gripe would be that it seemed a little on the small side for the three of us. Although I wouldn’t say the room was cramped, we have stayed in larger “standard size” holiday hotel rooms in the past.
On entering the room, the plastic, credit card-sized door key had to be pushed into a slot in the wall to turn the electricity on. However, we found that, if just one of us wanted to leave the room and take this key, the electricity could be kept on by using any cardboard or plastic card of this size.
We found that the air-conditioning system did not cool down to the temperature indicated on the thermostat. However, it worked fine when set onto both full fan power and the lowest temperature setting (5 degrees Celsius). Don’t be reticent about leaving it on these settings overnight, I doubt you’d get too cold. By the way, it appears that the cleaners are under orders to turn the air-con off; we had to turn it back on every day after their visit.
Before going to sleep at night, if you don’t want to be woken up too early, it’s advisable to use the white plastic “blackout” curtain which can be found hidden behind the fabric curtain. We didn’t do this on the first night and paid the price!
A safe is located in the wardrobe which, at the rate of 2 euros per day, may be activated for use at reception. (We didn’t use the mini-bar but a Tripadvisor reviewer from 8 months earlier had mentioned that this requires a 7 euros deposit).
Finally, it was very pleasant to sit out on the balcony in the evening, especially as it afforded good views of both the sea and the mountains.
The bathroom was in very good condition too. For example, there was no sign of mould in the grouting - or anywhere else for that matter - and the shower curtain (the thin nylon type) looked new. However, before a shower, to avoid the bathroom being flooded, a good tip would be to wet the near end of the shower curtain so that it “sticks” to the rim of the bath and to the adjacent part of the tiled wall. After a shower, another tip would be to turn the (conveniently located) hair-dryer on full blast to demist the main mirror and shaving mirror.
We stayed at the hotel on half-board. There was a reasonable choice of food at both breakfast and dinner-time; the meals were all self-service and were of a consistently high standard.
The hours for breakfast are officially between 8.00 and 10.30 am, but you can go as early as 7.00 am as everything except the fried food is available at this time. We found this to be particularly helpful when going on an excursion with an early start. However, on other days we tended to go to breakfast after 9.00 am, when it had become quite busy. At breakfast on the Sunday there was a self-service table where you could help yourself to a glass or two or cava, which was a very pleasant surprise!
We went to the late sitting for dinner at 8.15 pm rather than the early sitting at 6.15 pm. The meals at dinner-time were fine, but we were not happy to find that none of the drinks were self-service (and included at no extra cost), not even water or soft drinks. Instead, a waiter came to our table to take our drinks order, which we had to sign a receipt for, and this was then added to our room bill. Curiously, although we were given a copy of this receipt, it only indicated which drinks we had ordered, not how much they had cost.
1.4 The Bar
In our opinion, the most important thing to remember about the hotel bar is that Happy Hour is between 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm. We didn’t miss it once! In our ignorance, on our first evening we thought the drinks would be half-price. When our cocktails arrived we realised that you actually get double the number of drinks for the same price. I was happy enough, but my wife found it hard going! During the course of the week, my wife and I tried several different cocktails and I can honestly say that all were excellent, and our daughter loved the non-alcoholic cocktails. The service provided by the friendly bar staff was excellent too. My favourite cocktail was the Cobbler Cava Especial, which contains brandy, contreau, drambuie and cordon negro. Although, at 8.50 euros, it was a couple of euros more expensive than most other cocktails, it tasted great and really packed a punch!
By the way, we missed the welcoming cocktails at the bar because we were on the Mount Teide excursion. On our return, we found a half-bottle of cava in our room with compliments from the hotel. Very impressive!
1.5 Hotel Activities
At the hotel we played tennis, table-tennis, squash and mini-golf and for each activity the equipment provided by the hotel was in good condition. A big bonus was that we never had to wait or queue for our turn to play; in fact; during our stay we didn’t notice anybody else taking part in any of these games! The reason for this general lack of interest in games was probably linked to the fact that, apart from our daughter, we spotted only one other child staying at the hotel.
We found the water temperature too cold to use the outdoor pool but regularly swam in the indoor pool. It seemed rather bizarre that the indoor pool was so small yet was located in a very large room with lots of dead space around it. Luckily, though, few other people seemed interested in swimming; we often had the pool to ourselves and so overcrowding was not an issue.
1.6 Getting to Town Centre
1.6.1 Courtesy Bus
Although the hotel is located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz, it was neither difficult nor expensive getting to the town centre. The hotel offers a courtesy minibus shuttling between the hotel and the Centro Comercial (Shopping Centre) Martianez. The minibus leaves the hotel at 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00 and 17:45 respectively on weekdays and Saturdays (on Sundays the last departure is at 13:00). The return shuttle to the hotel is timetabled for 15 minutes later. So, for example, the first return trip is at 9:45 and the last at 18:00. We used this shuttle a couple of times from the hotel and didn’t have any difficulty in getting a seat. But be aware of the fact that, like a lot of Continental Europeans, the Germans don’t queue for buses.
By London standards, taxis are very cheap in Tenerife. The price from the centre of town to the hotel is only 3 to 4 euros. Be warned, though, that you’ll just get a blank expression from the taxi drivers if you pronounce “Garoe” in a typically English way, namely, as “gah-roh”; the correct pronunciation is nearer to “gah-roy-er”.
The main taxi rank in the town centre is in the Plaza del Charco. We found that a better place to catch a cab for the hotel was on the Avenida del Generalisimo near the crossroad with the Avenida de Venezuela. A number of taxis wait here, by the zebra crossing, and take the shorter (and cheaper) coastal road route back to the hotel.
1.6.3 Shanks’s Pony
There is a wonderful, scenic cliff-top walk down from the hotel to the Shopping Centre Martianez; it takes about 20 – 30 minutes but is well worth the effort. Here’s my idiot’s guide to the walk! Start by walking straight down the new public footpath on the right hand side of the hotel. At the end of this footpath, cross over the road, turn right, cross over the zebra crossing and immediately turn left to reach the cliff-top path. Turn left and walk along this path until you reach the Semiramis Hotel. Walk down the steps on the left hand side of this hotel, and continue the cliff-top walk whilst enjoying views across Puerto de la Cruz. When you reach a small square, turn right to walk down a pedestrian walkway and continue until you reach steps on the right hand side. Walk down these steps and at the bottom turn right to reach the Centro Comercial (Shopping Centre) Martianez.
1.7 The Germans
I cannot conclude this section of my review without mentioning the fact that there did seem to be an awful lot of Germans staying at the hotel. In fact, almost all the guests staying there except us were German! During the course of the week we did meet an elderly English man and his middle-aged daughter in the restaurant. On hearing my wife’s English accent, he made a beeline for her as if she were a long lost relative! At dinner time, our daughter developed a sudden and inexplicable interest in the major historical events of the twentieth century. In hushed tones, we had to furtively fill in the gaps of her knowledge. So, if you stay at this hotel my advice would be, to quote Basil Faulty, “Don't mention the war. I did, but I think I got away with it!”
Seriously, though, the Germans were fine and honest too. My wife had left her Panama hat in the bar after our first Happy Hour experience and it was promptly returned to reception. On the whole, the Germans seemed a civilised lot and we found the atmosphere to be very relaxed and easy-going. Most were middle-aged or elderly, although some were younger. However, if you’re British and the gregarious type, who likes nothing better than to chat and make new friends in the bar, then I suggest you stay elsewhere.
2. BEYOND THE HOTEL
In brief, here are some of the places we enjoyed visiting:-
• Loro Park. A very clean, impressive and well-organised park. The penguin tanks in “Planet Penguin” are amazing! To arrive by opening time at 8.45am, we took a taxi from the hotel for 6 euros. We had about an hour to enjoy looking at the animals in the peace and tranquillity of an almost empty park before the coach loads of tourists arrived. The first show of the day, with the sea-lions, takes place at 10.15 am. The park begins to empty out again after 4.00pm, when the coach crowds leave. We recommend going on the Discovery Tour, for a guided behind the scenes tour, which you book at a desk just inside the entrance of Loro Park.
• Mount Teide. We went on a coach excursion, booked through Thomson’s. Well worth the money as the views are amazing!
• Pueblo Chico. A charming model village in Orotava, showing buildings and scenes mainly from the Canary Islands. There’s even a large model of Mount Teide, which you can go inside to view an exhibition showing how volcanic activity has shaped the Canaries. We took the courtesy coach from the Avenida de Venezuela, just before the crossroad with the Avenida del Generalisimo (when walking from the Centro Comercial Martianez). Before lunch, the coach departs at 9.15, 10.00, 11.00, 12.00 and 13.00.
• The Botanical Garden. A few minutes walking distance from the Hotel Riu Garoe, this garden is officially known as the “Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava” (La Orotava Acclimatisation Garden). Planting began as early as 1792. We were particularly impressed by the height of some of the palm trees.
• Playa Jardin. A large and well-maintained beach area on the western outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz, near to Loro Park. We got there by taking the free yellow “Noddy train” to Loro Park from the Plazo Reyes Catolicos in the town centre.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Half Board Hotel Riu Garoe opens all year round, overlooks Puerto de la Cruz in the La Paz district. The hotel is set in 2,800 sq. m. of garden and features 4-storey building with 4 lifts and 190, modern rooms. Riu Garoe is situated approx. 2 km from a small beach and the famous Lago Martiánez salt water pools on the north coast of Tenerife. The RIU Classic Hotels offer comfortable rooms and excellent facilities with great leisure and relaxation facilities, as well as international gastronomy. Enjoy a relaxing holiday - whether alone, with family, partner or friends! The location is ideal because of its proximity to Tenerife North Airport TFN (28km) and Puerto de la Cruz (2,7km - complimentary shuttle service) and invites you to explore the island. Relax with a massage, or get fit on our tennis court. 1 outdoor pools, 1 children's pool, 1 indoor pool. Evening entertainment. For lovers of gastronomy, we offer live cooking stations at our main restaurant, as well as 2 bars. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riu Garoe Hotel
- Hotel Riu Garoe Tenerife/Puerto De La Cruz