Does the idea of a Gran Canaria holiday appeal? Nobody has reviewed as many hotels on the island as Matthew Hirtes. His latest stay was at Puerto Rico’s ClubHotel Riu Vistamar.
ClubHotel Riu Vistamar….enjoy the view at one of Gran Canaria’s most elevated establishments
The ClubHotel Riu Vistamar is a flip-flops-by-day/espadrilles-by-night type of place. Whilst wearing minimal apparel is fine for lounging by the pool, they expect you to cover up in the restaurants even if you’re just popping in for a snack but especially so for dinner where sleeveless tops are a no-no. The Vistamar reopened late last year following a multi-million transformation which was much more than a facelift, with long-term staff telling me it feels like they’re working in a completely new hotel.
Riu, the Spanish chain which has expanded worldwide since its early Mallorca-focused accommodation, runs four main types of hotels: Plaza (urban), Palace (luxury), Adults Only, and All Inclusive. The ClubHotel Riu Vistamar falls into the last category and in fact you can drink around the clock with Amstel and Cruzcampo Radler (shandy) taps conveniently located for self-pouring purposes, along with a machine dispensing fruit juices, ice teas, and waters. I preferred the interaction available at the hotel’s various bars with the Sports Bar’s barman revealing himself to be a more professional than amateur photographer as we got talking cameras.
Unlike the on-tap Amstel etc, these bars have set opening hours. The Sports Bar, where I enjoyed a fruity Vodka Sun complete with wodge of pineapple overlooking Amadores Beach for example, opens at 5:00pm and closes at 7:00am. I switched to a Vermouth at the Bar Piscina Emerald (10:00am-6:00pm). Although I preferred the Vermouth I supped watching the Champions League Final in the big screen at the Bar Salon Sunset (6:00pm-midnight) as it was served in a proper glass rather than one of the plastic variety (and everybody knows everything takes better out of glassware).
The main restaurant is the Amadores which opens for buffet breakfast from 7:30am to 10:30am, where I helped myself to a cooked non-full English (I’m vegan) on the the terrace overlooking the Atlantic, and dinner from 6:30pm until 10:00pm. There’s a continental brekky available for later risers at the Sea Breeze, from 10:30am unti midday, which then transforms into the hotel’s only lunch restaurant until 3:30pm. Lunch features cooling gazpachos, hearty salads, and traditional Canarian dishes such as papas arrugadas con mojo (salty new potatoes with piquant sauce) available on repeat.
The Sea Breeze stays open in the afternoon until 5:30pm for snacks (think burgers, hot dogs, and pastries such as trujas de batata, a local sweet-potato treat), before its final shift of first-sitting 6:30pm and second-sitting 8:30pm (7:00pm and 9:00pm) and reinvention as a grill which you have to book at reception for. I opted, however, for a reservation at the Asian-themed Kai Restaurant (same times) where the lack of Sake was more than compensated with wasabi to make your nostrils tingle, crunchy spring rolls, exquisitely-rolled sushi, and tempura with the lightest of batters.
The Riu brand is all about standing out. Its exteriors are bright and white, modernism at its most simple. Stepping inside the lobby, you get more of the same with the odd swirl of colour to break up the backdrop.
It’s a brisk 20-minute uphill walk from the nearest resort of Amadores to the ClubHotel Riu Vistamar, although there are regular free shuttle buses which ferry you to the beach and back. You enter at the ninth floor, walking down past the two swimming pools until you reach the 8th floor reception. My easy-on-the-eye suite was on the 5th floor and was more cosy and compact than bling and large.
Being an all-inclusive hotel, there are no extras at the Vistamar. Everything is included, including aerobics, micro-Las-Vegas style entertainment (there’s a two-week programme so guests staying a fortnight don’t see the same show twice), and all the food and drink your stomach and liver can manage. Prices vary according to room type and season but start around 130€ a night for a standard double.
Contact ClubHotel Riu Vistamar
Address: Avenida de la Cornisa, 23, 35130, Mogán
- Tlf: 928 72 77 00
Disclaimer: I was invited to a one-night stay at ClubHotel Riu Vistamar in exchange for a review. That’s standard policy for us hotel reviewers. Look out for us on your next holiday (we’re the ones filling jotters with streams of notes and our cameras with photo after photo).
Matthew Hirtes, our resident broadsheet journalist, moved to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria back in 2004. He’s travelled extensively through Spain, covering it for such publications as Telegraph Travel, Metro, and The Independent. The author of Going Local in Gran Canaria: How To Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home, Matthew truly is a resident expert.