I first stayed at the hotel when it opened in 1998 and uniquely, in my view, Timanfaya Palace has remained at the top of its game. Two years ago the hotel was in the middle of renovations when we visited and so I was interested to see how much it had changed.
Well, the alterations make the hotel even better value in my view. The Reception and entrance areas are now generally much grander with lofted ceilings and huge marble pillars (except that they're not really made of marble as I know from seeing them being constructed in 2011!) The piano bar is elegant and comfortable, and the marble floors (genuine marble!) shine - the whole atmosphere is one of sophisticated Spanish glamour. The main restaurant has had a makeover too and the views across the gardens and palm trees to the sea make a a wonderful backdrop during breakfast and dinner. Outside the gardens have been improved too, with new facilities near the mini-golf. Meanwhile, revamped bedrooms with ultramodern furniture remain as roomy as ever and balcony/terrace areas are large in comparison to most hotels. The showers - an important feature for me - are exactly as they should be . . . hot and with fearsome jets of water. Just the thing after a sticky day in temperatures which never fell below the mid 20s when we were there.
But it's the team that make any hotel special and at Timanfaya Palace they've got the best. At Reception (where daily you can pick up the free password if you're a wifi freak like me), the team does everything possible to make your holiday special and they do it with a smile. Anna P has been at the hotel for seven years and it was Anna who checked us in - despite the pressures of a check-in day, she remained cheerful and helpful. Nora and Samanta also impressed us with their helpfulness.
New to the hotel is an a la carte outlet called the Kasbah on the ground floor and also a cafe bar called Drinke's. You can eat in the Kasbah at a reduced cost if you're a hotel guest and Drinke's makes a change if you want to shade yourself from the sun for a cappuccino and a mufffin. The seats are comfy and it's very peaceful, and Loly makes you feel very welcome. It's thanks to Loly that I still have my beach towel because she ran after me with it when I left!
In the main restaurant, Franc and his deputy manager do a fantastic job keeping everything organised. The options available are all self-service and the presentation is amazing. At breakfast, you're greeted with tables and serveries loaded with fresh fruit, yoghurts, breads and rolls of every description, cold meats, cheeses, eggs and bacon, omelettes, croissants, preserves, cakes, doughnuts, teas, coffee, fresh fruit drinks . . . the lot! Full marks to the chef and his team because the breakfasts were marvellous. And as a bonus, the trays are constantly topped up so nothing runs out.
A good tip is to wander across to the grill where some foods are freshly prepared. In the morning, this might be where fresh oranges are squeezed or where eggs, omelettes and bacon are fried. The chefs here are all cheerful but I would pick out Arora. What a lovely smile she has, even when cooking what must be the 100th omelette of the day!
In the evening, the food at dinner hits new heights. Free aperitifs are served as you go in and the displays dazzle even more so than at breakfast. For starters, there's mussels, prawns, pilchards, cheeses (including Stilton which I love), ham, beef, sauces, salads, rice, pasta, freshly-baked breads and rolls. Then there are the mains - from steaks, hake, shark, and paella to freshly cooked meats like turkey, pork and beef at the grill. I like the idea that guests are of all nationalities because the food reflects national tastes, but if you like to eat only British food then you won't be disappointed. Puds are rich and calorie-laden . . . gateaux, ice creams, pies, fairy cakes, vanilla slices, fresh fruit, cheeses.
The waiters work hard to make sure that tables are cleared and orders for drinks fulfilled. Franc busies himself in the process and it isn't unusual to see the general manager, Vasques Romero, and his deputy come in as well. Of the waiters, quiet Alesandra was a star, Jose was a real character (often whistling while he worked) and Alfredo impressed because of his ability to make small talk with good eye contact even though he was working just as hard as all the others.
Outside, the pools were never that busy - possibly because they were unheated - but this suited me. Wall-to-wall sunshine means you need to be able to cool off from time to time. In the pool bar, ice cream cornets at €1,10 were good value - free if you're all-inclusive - and around the gardens there were cheerful helpers who offered everything from table tennis to Spanish lessons. But we tended to spend most of our time reading and swimming which was quite enough after mornings spent walking along the promenade into Playa Blanca.
If you've got this far, you'll have gathered correctly that we liked the Timanfaya Palace. Well you're wrong. We didn't like it - we loved it! And we'll be back to stay for another holiday.
Just one thing. I have an unsolved mystery about Playa Blanca itself. The town is beautiful - not too big and with real character. The cafes are friendly as well and as a bonus you can easily catch one of the ferries from the harbour over to Fuerteventura if you fancy a change. But the mystery centres on one of the seafront cafes in Playa Blanca. It has a green parrot perched beneath a sunshade on the prom. Do you know him? Danny (I think that's his name) is a real character, one day screeching at everyone, the next as quiet as a lamb and content to climb up and down his perches. If you've been there, have you seen him? Even more importantly (for our curiosity), do you know what happened to the green and grey parrots who used to live there? We asked the waiters and they simply smiled and said they'd gone "upstairs" - did they mean they retired from public life . . . or that they are no more, so to speak.
Overall then, Playa Blanca is lovely. And the jewel in its crown is the Timanfaya Palace Hotel. I congratulate Senor Vasques Romero for his inspirational leadership and hope that he doesn't leave until we've had a few more holidays there!
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- Also Known As:
- h10 Timanfaya Palace Hotel Playa Blanca
- h10 Timanfaya Palace Playa Blanca
- Timanfaya Palace Lanzarote
- H10 Timanfaya Palace Lanzarote/Playa Blanca