East Meets West Down Memory Lane

The Russians are coming – and it could be just in the nick of time to save Tenerife tourism. That’s certainly my impression after a pleasant day up west visiting old haunts around Los Gigantes, it was always a more sedate area but in recent years it has thinned out considerably. The main point of my trip was to get s guided tour of Royal Sun Resort which re-opened in November after closing eight years ago, just before I moved down south.

The Royal Sun Hotel was known as The Jewel in the Crown of Los Gigantes, sitting at the top of the hill above the village like a slightly elusive beacon of luxury. In my days at The Western Sun newspaper I had many happy assignments up there, my first big interview was with actress Gillian Taylforth and I did reviews of several acts that performed in the first floor Imperial Bar of an evening. Walking up there from the bus reminded me of what a fantastic viewpoint there is from that lofty perch.

There’s a big Russian stake in the new ownership and that was reflected in the menus, notices, and the guests. Look out for a review soon on blog.tenerife.co.uk but for now these photos give a sneak preview , there’s more work to be done but it’s looking good. Walking down into the village it was busier than I expected as the New Year rush melts away, several business owners said they had noticed an increase in trade since November and Russian accents underlined the point. It would be good to see Los Gigantes enjoy a revival in fortunes – diversity could be the key.

Heading down to the marina I was quite dismayed to see the new barriers to limit parking at the front, it was like Checkpoint Charlie, apparently it has caused a lot of resentment and early tactical parking further up the hill. It was also noticeable how many pleasure boat and whale watching trips were competing for trade along the quayside, if they are all making a decent living that is another encouraging sign. On the other side the beach was busy but being buffeted by some biggish waves, I used to love swimming out from there with the towering cliffs making me feel I was clasped in the hand of nature.

Running up Cardiac Hill like a young frisky gazelle brought me into Puerto Santiago where I used to live, a lively Canarian enclave with nice little bars that I used to frequent. The big car park is still sealed and unused years after completion but again people were around in numbers as I headed down past the pocket sized beach below and the cultural centre with its eye grabbing fishing sculptures clinging to the outside walls. I was always amazed that there were no serious accidents at the tight hairpin turn known as Spanish Corner, even now I wince as two opposing Titsa buses squeeze by each other.

I was going to fill up on tuna at the plaza down below but it was early closing day for the restaurant so that can wait for another trip. Instead I wandered out onto the plaza and tipped my imaginary hat to the statue of former mayor Pancracio Socas. Before getting a bus back to the south I ventured into Playa de la Arena and watched some big waves fighting a duel with bathers on the black sand beach. This was another favourite swimming spot for me but getting a good line was important to avoid the rockier areas. It was always one of the best maintained beaches around, now they even have Wi Fi so you can surf without getting your tootsies wet. Lots of happy memories came back to me, every bar tells a story, but as the Titsa express pulled in bang on time I flashed my bono and headed into the sunset.