Friday 28 November 2014

Fuerteventura the perfect break after a hard winter

Arlene Harris

Published 23/03/2014 | 02:30

It pays to know your rights before setting off on that dream vacation
It pays to know your rights before setting off on that dream vacation
The Barceló Jandia Playa hotel in Fuerteventura

It's been cold, wet and windy – I've had flu followed by a chest infection, while nursing a family with the same ailments. And to top it all, a tree fell through my windscreen, narrowly missing me by a few inches – in short, I've had a bellyful of winter.

So when the opportunity arose to escape from the gloom to foreign skies, needless to say my arm didn't need to be twisted. And while I would have been happy to venture anywhere within flying distance, the prospect of a few days devoted to lying in the sun on the island of Fuerteventura was utterly blissful.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Flying time from Dublin was almost four hours and while this may seem a long way to go for the equivalent number of days, as soon as we breathed in the warm evening air I knew it was worth it. We were staying at the Jandia Playa Hotel located by the beach of the same name on the Costa Calma and first impressions were of a vast building and friendly, efficient staff, which could cater for hundreds of people comfortably.

THE ROOM

Having checked in and marvelled at how far we were away from home, our room on the third floor was a pleasant surprise. I had expected noise and lack of privacy as is often the way with accommodation of this magnitude, but our room was quiet, tastefully furnished and had a fantastic view of the swimming pools and sandy beach beyond.

THE FOOD

I have managed to reach my (very early) 40s without ever staying in an all-inclusive hotel. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have never even had half-board, always opting instead for self-catering, so I was somewhat dubious about the all-inclusive nature of this venue. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Despite the huge volume of guests passing through the restaurant, the array of food was tasty, well cooked and varied. There were areas catering for those who wanted authentic local food (paella, fried fish and stewed rabbit) and other counters with options for the less adventurous (chicken, burgers and the obligatory French fries).

Soft drinks, tea, coffee, wine and beer were also available throughout the day on tap.

THE AMENITIES

Weekend breaks can be, by their very nature, anything but. And while I know a change is as good as a rest; sometimes the museums, art galleries and cultural sightseeing can be quite exhausting – leaving you wearier than you were before you left home.

So although I briefly entertained the idea of hiring a car and taking in the surroundings, these thoughts were quickly dismissed as the prospect of being completely self-indulgent for a few days took over.

Obviously I didn't shun the amenities completely and made good use of the pool and the on-site spa; and in a burst of energy took a stroll along the beach to the nearest strip, which consisted of the ubiquitous touristy bars, shops and restaurants.

After an hour, this proved too taxing and the lure of a complimentary glass of Cava on the terrace proved too great, so we ambled back to the hotel and stayed put.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Waking up to bright blue skies and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin is truly a medicinal experience. Although we only spent four days in the Canaries and had a long journey either side, we came back feeling as if we had just enjoyed a fortnight of rest and relaxation.

Hopefully the worst of the Irish winter is behind us and we can all look forward to another summer as good as the last; but in the meantime, the sun is always just a plane-ride away.

Need to know

The cost

Aer Lingus from Dublin to Fuerteventura costs from €77.99 per person one way – www.aerlingus.com.

Half board at the Barceló Jandia Playa costs from €81 per room per night – www.barcelo.com.

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