Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote in Playa Blanca
5-Stars Luxury Hotel with lots of comfort but also weakenings
In spring time 2003, we spent 2 weeks in the luxury hotel of Lanzarote Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote. At that time, the hotel complex celebrated its first birthday; Everything was still new, the palms and plants were still young and small. Of course, one expects from an hotel classed 5-stars-plus that everything is perfect and in best condition. If it was like that and the way it actually was I will describe in the following text.
Location of the Hotel, proximity
The Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote is located at the southern tip of the island in Playa Blanca. At approximately a distance of 2 km from the centre of Playa Blanca, the new sports harbour Marina Rubicón is located and behind it, the hotel complex is expanded. The hotel is not a typical tourist hotel as a seven-floored concrete block with a swimming pool in the front, but built in the style of a spanish village. From the exterior, it is not immediately recognizable that these buildings are an hotel complex.
Thus, the hotel complex is a spanish village with approximately 25 little houses, and of course, in a village a church can't be missing. The church that is a copy of the main church of Teguise, forms the entrance hall of the hotel. The core of the village is - typically for Lanzarote - a volcano. This volcano is already visible from a far distance if one drives to Playa Blanca; therewith, the hotel gave a new core to the little fisher village. In the centre of the volcano there is the reception, some bars and a spectacular water fall. It is nice to spend the holiday in a cozy village and not in a giant hotel complex. And, as known, in a village there is always something new to discover!
But we nearly needed a full week until we could find our way in this village, as the paths are not easy in order to get for example from the big pool to one's room or from the reception to the fitness room. One should not make the mistake to try to find the way in the interior of the building; As usual in a village, the paths are in the exterior and not always straight.
The hotel is located behind the new marina of Playa Blanca right at the sea. Here, it is very calmed, either in the day time as also at nights, and by lying at the pool it is possible to relax in a nice way. By sitting on the terrace of one's room, a quiet and calming sound of sea rushing is hearable, as there are only 100 metres to the sea shore.
Of course, one pays this calmness by the fact that one lives a little aside of the events. To the heart of Playa Blanca where at nights there is lots of party and where there are restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets, there is a march of 2 km. Also the beach of Playa Blanca can be only accessed by walking for 20 minutes.
The first impression
Most of the times, the first hour in a holiday hotel is the most exciting one. Everything is new and one sees a lot and starts to know the first people of the staff. Many times, one already knows after an hour if the holiday will be a dream holiday. In the Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote, the introduction already starts during the drive to the hotel, as the black distictive lava dome already fascinates from a far distance.
If one arrives with the transfer bus or the rented car to the hotel, the luggage is immediately removed; one finds it afterwards in the assigned room. The way to the reception leads one through the church where spiritual or classic music plays. Then the access into the lava dome. It is a big fascination to stand in the interior of the volcano and to look at the water fall and the plants and getting a welcome drink of a cocktail served is very joyful.
after checking in, one is guided to the room where the size and the beauty of it amazes. On the dining table there is a basket with fruits and a bottle of water for the first refreshing. In the bathroom, one finds any kind of implements that can be needed during the holiday. This is the way people wish an hotel room to be.
The sense of delight increases by stepping into the terrace for the first time. Our view was straight ove rthe sea to the islands Lobos and Fuerteventura; What a panorama! At the left side, the parrot beaches glisten. Gorgeous!
But there was a first time when our enthusiasm was dampened when we went immediately after our arrival to the swimmng pool. There was a big building site right behind the hotel at the new harbour; The workers were grinding right at the pool. These construction works accompanied us during the whole holiday, but we got used to it.
The rooms in the hotel
The hotel has 230 normal rooms as also 25 suits and junuior suits. A normal room in the Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote is already equivalent to a suite in an hotel of 3 or 4 stars. If one books a simple double room, one gets a room of approximately 40 m². Many appartments in Germany are not of such living space!
Our room was lovely arranged: a king size double bed with a commode glistening in blue colour in front of it. Between the bed and the balcony there was a longue with a couch, a table and two arm chairs. This is the reason why I already talk about a suite although it is a normal room. The bathroom was huge, with two basins and a bath tube. The toilet with a bidet were even separated from the real bath!
In the room, practically everything what can be imagined was available: Starting from a big TV to a mini bar up to a hairdryer, bath robes and even slippers, everything that could have been desired was available. There was such a big assortment of implements available in the bath room that one really could have travelled without a bathing kit.
What I particularly want to mention is that in our room there was a big safe that did not cost any extra charge. By an electronical code it was possible to keep there the valuable things. Other hotels partly charge several euros per day for the use of the room safe.
But the best thing was the terrace and its view. On the terrace, there were two further chairs and a little table. Our view was straight to Fuerteventura and the island Lobos before it. At the left side, especially in the evenings we could see the parrot beaches glistening in the sun. They were dreamy views!
Not all rooms in the hotel offer this terrific view. But all rooms had a view either to the sea, to the centre of Playa Blanca or to the huge pool complex in the centre of the hotel village. But is there anything at all to be complained in relation to the hotel rooms that were practically fuly equipped? Yes, unfortunately, there was a big deficit:
According to the brochure, all rooms of the hotel are equipped with air conditioning. But what is the sense of an air conditioner if it is not switched on? Unfortunately, we had to spend two weeks in a not air-conditioned and too hot room. My complaints were rejected with the statement that two guests of the hotel demanded the heating mode instead of the cooling mode.
Pardon? At nights where we were sitting outside in short pants and short-sleeved, apparently, other guests wanted during the day that was overheated anyway, to be additionally heated? Unfortunaltey, this explanation is already familiar to me from cheap hotels that want to hide with such excuses that the air conditoner is not working due to economical reasons, but i never expected this from a 5 stars hotel.
The missing of the air-conditioning got more fatal in the evenings as then, we could not open the balcony door, as in the evenings, the light was on in each balcony in order to iluminate the hotel; it was not possible to switch it off. As known, light attracts insects and after opening the balcony door, these insects were of course in the room. After two nights leaving the door opened, I had 23 mosquito bites in my arms.
I have to say clearly that if we had booked through a german travel agency, we would have asked for a change of accomodation. But as we booked straight at the hotel, we did not have this possibility.
The pool landscape
In the Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote there are 4 pools from which one is heated. These 4 pools are embedded in a huge pool landscape in which there is a lot of space for the hotel guests. I find it to be very pelasant if not all the hotel guests are lying in a file around the pool, but when they are spread all over, so that one does not have the feeling at all of being in a big hotel.
Of course, the main attraction is a big sea water pool sized 1800 m² in the centre of the exterior complex. As a comparison: a typical pool of 25 m is seven times smaller. This pool with its curved forms, the water fall at the lower end and the access that is similar to a beach at the other side is one of the most beautiful hotel pools that I have ever seen.
In general I appreciate if one can not only refresh oneself shortly in pool but also swim some rounds without having to change the direction any third move. Swimming is even very exciting there: passing the fontaine to the water fall in front, then underneath the restaurant terrace to the shallow access similar to a beach, around the sculpture and back...
The other pools (one also for little kids) are located in very different places of this spanish village. By this way, the guests are nicely spread over the different pools and sunbathing areas.
There are enough deck chairs in the pool landscape. But those I specially liked were the ones that were protected against the wind by little walls. By this way, one could also have a sunbath when the weather was windy, when normally the wind would make it to be a cold experience.
Of course, the use of the deck chairs was free. In addition, there were very comfortable overlays and big towels that could be picked up by oneself. But what was a complete mystery to me was the way the pools were mantained and attended, as it was not a matter of course to get a dry bath towel and a deck chair with an overlay.
Many times there was a lack of bath towels as they were only made available in little amounts. What was rare was the fact that the overlays were already removed in the afternoon around 4 p.m. Thus, those who came back in the late afternoon from an excursion through the island to the hotel and looked forward to a 2-hours relaxation at the pool missed the overlays and the bath towels. Why was this stuff removed so early, when it was possible to sunbath until 7 p.m.? Once, my towels were even removed while I was swimming in the pool; After that it was really cold...
Eating and drinking
It is possible to book the stay in the Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote either only brekfast included as also with demipension. In the hotel area there are 5 restaurants and several bars that open at different times. Those who do not want to go out at all can get the food brought into the room.
A good day starts with a good breakfast. And this is really available every morning. During the breakfast one really notices that one lives in a top hotel. I would have liked to make a picture of the breakfast buffet but therefore I should have pressed the release button for several times, as the choice of the buffet tables was endless. A choice of everything what can be imagined for breakfast was available in a huge abundance.
Café con leche (coffee with milk) was served at the table, as also practically any kind of fruit juice. At the barbecue station, one could get things like an omelette or a little schnitzel freshly prepared. Sausages, eggs or waffles were not prepared on stock but always individually in time.
Every morning, we loked forward to the breakfast; it was a real pleasure to be served so well and to help oneself at different buffets. And the breakfast was even nicer by sitting outside and enjoy the morning sun.
Those who book their stay with demipension get their dinner at the buffet. Those who prefer to go to a restaurants instead, get a voucher at the reception that can be redeemed in the restaurant. We booked our stay only with breakfast included so that in any case we had a free choice in the evenings.
On the first evening after our arrival, we straight had dinner in the italian restaurant Rubicón. Both the expectation and the hunger were big, but also the disappointment was. For 70 € we got a middle class dinner that was far away from 5 stars. The good wine was slopped on the table; the salad was not served as a starter but arrived with a main course; a pizza was served as a dessert. Moreover, the wrong dish was served, and the waiter really wanted to make us believe that an undefinable cream contained spaghetti.
We were so disappointed of this first dinner that from then we only went to PLaya Blanca for dinner. There, there were numerous restaurants and it gets very lively in the evenings. Unfortunately, we always had to drive with the car to the centre, so that our consume of alcoholic drinks had to be limited. But with only one exception, we always got good food there and also enjoyed the atmosphere.
Shortly before our departure, we did have dinner again in the hotel, in the restaurant Yaiza. There, we tried the national cuisine: we ordered 5 different tapas and national wine. This was very joyful. The tapas were fresh and tasty, the service perfect and the prices were fair. What was specially pleasant was having dinner in open air right at the upper pool. There, we could really enjoy our meal and extend it for long time.
In the hotel area, there are several bars that serve drinks and little tasty snacks nearly around the clock. Of course, the bars are most important at day time, if one gets really thirsty or hungry at the pool and in the evenings, when one wants to have a drink after a long extended dinner.
The drinks, no matter if a cocktail or only coffee, were always nicely prepared and friendly served. Of course, a drink tasted even better when one could also enjoy live music playing during drinking. A signature with the room number was sufficient as payment. Thus, it was not needed to have cash money available and this was very pleasant.
What was disappointing was a visit in the fun pub Los Jameos. This club room is very nicely arranged with a dance floor, a stage and a bar. But I could not understand that during the presence of the guests, some installations and musical trials were made.
The hotel staff
Depending on the season, in the hotel work approximately 100 persons that take care of the complex and the well-being of the guests. Statistically, there is one staff member for 3-5 guests - a proud quote!
The reception staff takes care of the general guest wishes. There, each of our wishes were fulfilled and even if it was only a confirmation of our flight or finding out the current weather in the north of the island. Somehow it was comforting to know that there was always somebody at the reception that could be asked about anything.
I have to say a special word of praise to the room service staff. I never experienced such a room service: the room was made two times per day, in the mornings the usual bed and cleaning service. In the evenings, the beds were opened, a white cloth was put as a bedside carpet and again fresh towels brought, for the case one took a shower during the day. This service was really unique and made every evening clear to us that we were living in a 5 star luxury hotel.
In the restaurants, one could clearly distinguish either during breakfast as also during dinner which of the waiters had a proper training and which were hired only as assistants. Many things were slopped and many little mistakes were made. Here, it was clearly noticeable that the respective personnel still had to be upgraded to a level of 5 stars.
Also the service at the pool area left a lot to desire. Why were the towels and the overlays for the deck chairs not made available according to the guest's needs? A bath attendant at the pool was often not there so that one had to walk the long way to the reception in order to ask for example for some towels.
Sports and entertainment
What does one do in the hotel if the weather is not like it is expected to be in Lanzarote? Best is to get pampered in the hotel or one looses a part of the weight already gained during the stay by doing some sports.
In the hotel area there is a fitness room and a squash court that can be used for free. There are rackets and balls made available in order to play squash. The court is in a very good condition and well ventilated - highly recomendable! Also the fitness studio is impressive: the devices are top modern and functional. I always find it to be very pleasant if a fitness room does not consist on two multifunctional devices but of 10-15 single devices, so that one can act as being in a real gym.
The SPA center is mainly enjoyed by women. For lots of money, one gets a full wellness program with manicure and massages and the most exotic baths. We made use of half a day of bad weather to try the thermal basin with its underwater massage jets as also the finnish and the turkish sauna.
It cost us 12 € per person. The yakuzzee with its water injectors was verypleasant indeed, but the sauna and the vapour bath were not according to the german standard at all. Every sauna of an Austrian ski resort is very much better. The high entrance fee made our expectations to be high and the disappointment was respectively big.
For me it was of course very positive that there was a little internet room. For 7 € per hour one could check the emails at two extremely old computers. I wondered where an hotel that still was not two years old could get such old computers from. There were many problems during the handling, but I discovered the most devastating thing too late: the browser was configured in a way that it saved all user names with password. It was not possible to change that as as a surfer, one does not have the respective rights.
During the day and also in the evenings there were not many offers made for the entertainment. The hotel complex seemed to be empty and abandoned. But the children did not need an entertaining program, as the pool complex offered to much space for playing that the kid's occupation and entertainment was self developed.
The hotel guests
One could think that in a 5 stars luxury hotel one only sees people in evening gowns and the men wearing suits and a tie even at the swimming pool; Not at all! The audience was more different as one could have imagined. Of course there were some single boastful and self-important persons that had to show how special they were. But the majority of the guests were younger or older couples or very normal families with little kids. The only group that practicaly was not represented was very young couples between 16 and 25 years.
In the hotel, there were a lot of german and british guests. But at least as big was the number of guests of the mainland. But also the Scandinavians were fairly represented. This mixture made the stay to be very pleasant. I find it very positive if the audience is quite mixed an one does not find oneself isolated between germans.
In fact, one expects from a 5 stars luxury hotel that everything is perfect. Indeed, there are always some little malfunctions but during our stay too many things resulted to be insufficient, so that the gigh expectations were rather disappointed than fulfilled. But I am very sure that some of this deficits are already known by the hotel and that they will be removed in the course of the years, so that one day, one can really enjoy a luxury holiday of extra class in the Hotel Gran Meliá Volcán Lanzarote.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz