Scotland, Europe, the world

Volcano Islan‘

Forget the cheesy image: Tenerife boasts Mount Teide, a vast 3,700m volcano, and great beaches

With what summer there was slipping away, the idea of escaping has an irresistible appeal. Be tempted by TENERIFE, the Spanish island that floats off the African coast with its beaches, vaulting volcanoes and luxury hotels. Robin McKerin investigates.

enerife 2(XH-style has decided to ditch the cheesy

package image and rebrand itself to attract more

upmarket visitors. (ionc is the building of cheap hotels and even in the notorious resort of Playa de las Americas. the worst excesses have been tamed. A more discerning type of tourism has emerged with spas. rustic restaurants and boutique hotels sprinkled across this dramatically scenic island.

The symbol of the new 'l‘enerife lies in the nonh in the largest city. Santa Cruz de Tenerife. where a remarkable new £50m auditorium opened last year. Think the Guggenheim in Bilbao and merge it with the Sydney Opera House and you‘re close to conjuring tip this truly unique creation. The l.o()() seat opera house and concert hall strikes out across the city‘s skyline with a swooping 2()()ft canopy that resembles. appropriately for an island whose lifeblood has always been the sea. a crashing wave. Santiago (‘alatrava. the Spanish architect behind the project. impressed so much Stateside with his creation that he has now been commissioned to work on the World Trade Center site in New York.

Slipping west down the spine of the island. the new face of Tenerife emerges in Pucno de la (‘ruz at the Hotel Botanico. Set apart from the gaggle of tourist class apartments near the beachfront this leading Hotels of the World‘ member offers serious pampering with the Oriental Spa Garden and an lS-hole putting green with driving range and bunker. as well as an open air jacuzzi. While nightly room rates are higher than what many people shell out for a week-long flight inclusive package in Playa de las Americas. the sublime spa is well worth the extra cash.

liunher west still there are little gems like (iarachico. the kind of unspoilt coastal town that has long since vanished from much of mainland Spain. Apart from an abandoned old fort. a whitewashed church and a modern art museum. there is little to do besides join the locals wandering through the streets alter their siestas and while away the evenings in a cosy restaurant or lively tapas bar.

The biggest surprise in (iarachico is the Hotel San Roquc. a chic. French-owned Ill-room boutique escape that fuses traditional l7th century (‘anarian architecture with more than a hint of (‘harles Rennie Mackintosh. CD players and jacu/Jis come as standard. with original modem an and sculpture brightening tip all the public spaces.

Back inland Spain‘s highest mountain. Mount Teidc. awaits. (‘alling it a mountain does not do Teide justice as it is a 3.718111 volcanic monster that makes Scottish mountains look like mere foothills. You can spend the night in the excellent value government run 'Parador‘ hotel. set right in the beam of the Parque Nacional de las (‘anadas del Teidc. The rooms are comfonable and clean and some even have views out back across to the hulking peak.

It is possible to hike to the top of Teidc. but it is a steep ascent and oxygen is thin on the upper reaches. An easier option is to take the cable car that deposits you at 3.550m.

just below the lip of the crater. From this lofty position you

can take in the epic sweep of the national park unfurling below and peer down on airplanes that look like birds swooping into the island. with the rest of the Canaries sparkling across the Atlantic waters in the distance. Up here all thoughts of Scotland's dismal summer and any outdated images of Tenerife soon dissolve.

I Getting There The Edinburgh based airline Globespan (www. flyglobespancom) operates regular direct flights from Glasgow to Tenerife. They are available on a flight-only basis or with hotel accommodation included. Flights last around four hours. A sample return fare for September is £201.80 including all taxes going out 25 September and coming back 2 October. Charter flights from Scotland are also often availableBritish Airways (www.hritishainNayscouk) and British Midland ( both operate numerous scheduled flights from London to Tenerife. When taking into account the Scotland to London leg these often work out at least as expensive as direct Scottish flights. but they do offer the flexibility of a choice between flying into Tenerife's north or south. while Scottish flights only go into the southern Reina Sofia airport.

I Getting Around Tenerife has a decent public transport network. but the timetables are not always convenient so you may want to hire a car. There are numerous car hire companies at the airports and most hotels can also set up car hire.

I Hotels

Parador de Las Cahadas del Teide. +34 922 386 41 5. Hotel San Roque. +34 922 133 435.; Hotel Botanico. +34 922 381 400. I Further Information The Lonely Planet guide to the Canary Islands has a decent section on Tenerife. The official tourist office website is at www.webtenerife.oom. with plenty of information on where to stay. what to do and local festivals.

26 Aug—6 Sep 2004 THE LIST 63